Key infrastructure rehab takes shape ahead of SADC Summit Workers renovate the Rainbow Towers Conference Centre yesterday in preparation for the SADC Summit slated for August in Harare. - Picture: Charles Muchakagara.

Oliver Kazunga-Senior Business Reporter

PREPARATIONS for the 44th SADC Summit of Heads of State and Government to be held in Harare in August are in the final stages, with key infrastructure such as roads, Information Communication Technology systems and accommodation now almost ready, Information, Publicity and Broadcasting Services Minister, Dr Jenfan Muswere, has said.

In a statement last night, Dr Muswere said road works were at “an advanced stage”, with the water reticulation system almost done.

ICT systems and infrastructure, he added, have also been put in place, while accommodation for high profile visitors at hotels in Harare was now ready. 

The Government is leading the construction of 18 state-of-the-art villas, while major hotels are also being rehabilitated.

“We are in the final preparatory stage for the summit. The new Parliament’s architecture has the commensurate capacity for the SADC Summit and other future multilateral events.

“The venue has contemporary high-tech ICT equipment, for ease of real-time dissemination of the deliberations.

“Support infrastructure funding has seen the expedited road construction, accommodation refurbishment, construction of new accommodation facilities and the water infrastructure.

“The hosting of the summit gives a practical priming of the idea of Mount Hampden as a new Smart City.”

Dr Muswere said the engagement and re-engagement strategy had generated positive success stories in terms of the country’s international relations.

“Yes, we are happy about the finalisation and that Zimbabwe is now a citadel of international relations. His Excellency President Cde Dr ED Mnangagwa has led the summit preparations as Chief Diplomat. Therefore, we are basically pursuing the dividends of his perennial diplomatic experience and wisdom. 

“Remember he is the father of our engagement and re-engagement strategy and at this point, we can bask in his diplomatic acumen to successfully convene the summit,” he said.

Dr Muswere added that the deployment of the Whole-of-Government approach had resulted in strategic success entry points in terms of financing, construction and infrastructure development, communication, brand promotion and publicity and domesticating the works.

Information Communication Technology systems and accommodation now almost ready, Information, Publicity and Broadcasting Services Minister, Dr Jenfan Muswere

All these structures have a Committee Chaired by Vice President Dr Constantino Chiwenga.

A number of stretches of roads being rehabilitated, that lead to the new Parliament Building in Mt Hampden, have been completed and opened to traffic.

Hospitality concern, Rainbow Tourism Group (RTG), is revamping the Harare International Conference Centre as part of the preparations.

The hotel will host the SADC Industrialisation Week in July, before the 44th SADC Summit.

In an interview after a tour of the 4 500-seater conference centre at Rainbow Towers Hotel, RTG chief executive officer Mr Tendai Madziwanyika said the refurbishment would be completed on time.

“We are going to be changing all the carpeting and chairs in the HICC. We will do it in time for the SADC Industrialisation Conference. We can assure you that it will be done. All these chairs (on the ground floor) will be done around July 2 and after we finish, we are going to do all the chairs that you see up there.

“All the 4 500 chairs are going to be totally taken out and new ones put in and we are doing this for the SADC event,” he said.

Apart from the HICC, some of the rooms at the Rainbow Towers Hotel are being redesigned to accommodate Heads of State who will be staying there during the conference.

“We went on a tour of the rooms where the Presidents will be staying and again, we broke four rooms to form one diplomatic suite for a President.

“All that is being funded by the Ministry of Local Government because they own the property. We lease the property from them and it’s going to cost just over US$5 million to do everything that you are seeing right now,” said Mr Madziwanyika.

At least 150 companies are expected to be in the country during the investment conference period, with at least 300 participants from the private sector as well as other stakeholders from the public sector, academia and development partners.

There will also be a dedicated pavilion for regional investment promotion agencies from SADC member States.

“We are really excited about our role in showcasing Zimbabwe because as His Excellency (President Mnangagwa) hosts his colleagues from Southern Africa, he will be having something that is brand new, exciting and that can showcase what Zimbabwe can offer and we think that after the SADC Summit, this can be marketable in terms of attracting other business going into the future,” said Mr Madziwanyika.

Since the HICC was built in 1985, this is the first time the conference centre is being revamped.

President Mnangagwa will officially open the SADC Industrialisation Week on July 31.

During the SADC Summit, the President will also take his fellow leaders on a tour of the Geo Pomona Waste Management operations in the capital, open the SADC Liberation Square at the Museum of African Liberation and deliver a public lecture at the University of Zimbabwe.

President Mnangagwa’s public lecture will be titled: “Building research capacity and innovation ecosystems for a sustainable industrialised SADC economy”.

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