Takunda Maodza Manicaland Bureau Chief
President Mnangagwa yesterday commissioned the Sakubva Urban Renewal Project, an initiative to modernise the old and run-down suburb and turn Mutare into a Smart City in line Government’s Vision 2030.
The project is being bankrolled by BancABC and the first phase will see an injection of US$8 million by the bank.
It is a tripartite arrangement spearheaded by Plan Infrastructure Development (PID), with Mutare City Council making 225 hectares available.
PID is the consultant in the Sakubva Urban Renewal initiative, which holds National Project Status.
The project will see the construction of high rise flats, revamping of Sakubva flea market, the Sakubva long-distance bus terminus, Sakubva Stadium, Sakubva Beit Hall and Sakubva vegetable market.
The President — who was accompanied by Vice Presidents Constantino Chiwenga and Kembo Mohadi — said the Sakubva Urban Renewal Project represented the aspirations of the Second Republic.
“We were invited by the Ministry of Local Government and Mutare City Council to see what they are doing here in Mutare,” he said.
“They want Mutare to be a Smart City. When the Second Republic came into office, we said we must upgrade our cities so that by 2030 we will be a middle-income economy.
“To achieve that goal, there are a lot of things that we need to address — our roads, bridges, schools, clinics and housing.”
President Mnangagwa said in Harare’s Mbare, the 1920s Matapi flats were upgraded after Government saw that the structures were dilapidated.
“We resolved that it should not end there,” he said.
“It must spread to all other councils: Bulawayo, Mutare, Masvingo, Gweru, Bindura and Chinhoyi. Each municipality must embark on such projects. Mutare is the first local authority to embark on such a project.
“They identified Sakubva’s Coronation suburb which has very old houses. I visited the suburb and saw the old structures and these must not exist 39 years after independence.”
President Mnangagwa said urban renewal projects like the Sakubva initiative must be replicated across all cities.
“All the slums here would be demolished and a Smart City will be established in Mutare,” he said.
“I also toured the bus terminus and they have pledged to modernise it. I asked them where they will get funding and I was informed BancABC, whose chief executive (Dr Lance Mambondiani) grew up here in Sakubva, is the one who brought the bank here to fund the project.
“Modern houses, clinics, schools, shopping malls and markets will be constructed here. A number of houses will be demolished and in their place, high rise apartments will be built.”
The President was impressed by the scope of the project.
“I was impressed by this project because this is what we want to achieve when we talk of Zimbabwe as a middle-income economy by 2030,” he said.
“It cannot be a middle income economy when people are crammed in one room. We want this to be history.”
President Mnangagwa pledged to monitor progress.
“They promised me that construction will start once the ground-breaking ceremony has been done,” he said.
“I told them that I will come here in March next year and monitor progress.”
Earlier on, the President had toured Sakubva to get an appreciation of Mutare’s oldest suburb that was established around 1925.
Most residents of Sakubva live in crowded and unhygienic conditions, a result of historically poor town planning and a lot of sub-standard housing built very cheaply by a colonial council wanting minimum-level accommodation for what it saw as purely migrant workers.
It was considered sub-standard even in the 1970s, well before independence, by the municipal officials who had to administer the area and while redevelopment plans have been drawn up several times since then, it is only now that a determined effort is being made.
Manicaland Provincial Affairs Minister Dr Ellen Gwaradzimba described the Sakubva Urban Renewal Project “as an early Christmas present for the people of Mutare from the President”.
“This is a rebirth of Sakubva, our oldest suburb, with houses having been built around 1925,” she said.
“It is even more exciting for me that this event is taking place during my tenure of office. I feel exhilarated with this achievement.
“There is no doubt this project will immensely improve the living standards of the Sakubva community. Your Excellency, the people of Manicaland will live to remember you. The people of Sakubva will dream about you for having provided a decent roof over their heads.
“You will be remembered as a President who delivered a housing programme at a grand scale.”
Mutare town clerk Mr Joshua Maligwa said more investors had expressed interest in other phases of the Sakubva Urban Renewal Project.
“As council, we are availing 225 hectares, but of those hectares there is private land, council land and State land,” he said. “We have started with council land. PID comes in as a consultant. BancABC is providing funding. Say if we build 20 apartments, we will have shares according to what you would have contributed as partners.
“Our flats will be allocated as was said by the President. Residents who were in rented accommodation will get into the apartments. If there are residents who want mortgages, they go to BancABC. Those who want to buy the apartments go to PID. Council is not going to sell the apartments. We are going to give our people at revised rates and terms.”
Mr Maligwa said if council land is exhausted, State land would be taken.
“If State land is exhausted we will extend to private properties,” he said. “We buy them out or destroy their old structures and guarantee the residents accommodation in the apartments as compensation.”
Mr Maligwa said partners were scrambling for the project.
These include Shelter Zimbabwe, First Mutual, Old Mutual, the National Social Security Authority and Homelink.