The Sunday Mail
ZIMBABWE is implementing devolution as one of the signature programmes for development under President Mnangagwa’s vision for the country to become a middle-income economy by 2030. Under Vision 2030, the President has pressed for balanced development of rural and urban areas, and an end to the lopsided perception of Harare as the “Bamba zonke of development”.
Last week, our Chief Reporter Kuda Bwititi spoke to Mazowe Rural District Council chief executive officer Mr Liberty Mufandaedza (LM) to unpack the devolution matrix for the district, which is the gateway to Mashonaland Central Province. Below are excerpts of the interview.
Q: Give us an overview of the vision that you have for Mazowe in terms of development?
A: Our blueprint is within the broader national vision that was espoused by His Excellency President Mnangagwa, that of becoming an upper middle-income economy by 2030. Similarly, we see Mazowe growing beyond limits with a broad-based citizenry participation approach to all our stakeholders, which are public institutions, the private sector and all business, civic groups, traditional leaderships and the public in general.
Q: What are the key sectors available in the Mazowe area for potential investors?
A: We are proud of the multiplicity of opportunities that we have as a province. There is huge potential in agriculture and agro-processing, mining, tourism, real estate, manufacturing, infrastructural development, information and communication as well as the services sector.
Q: What are the unique advantages found in Mazowe for potential investors?
A: Being the gateway to Mashonaland Central Province, the district shares its boundary with the capital city, which means proximity to airports in Harare as well as easy access to rail and road networks. Mazowe boasts of 42 different minerals according to the 2018 Geological Survey carried out by the district. We also have good agricultural soils, supported by a customarily reliable rainfall pattern as we fall under Natural Region Two.
The district has a growing population of an estimated 250 000 people. It is also host to the national earth station, giving an advantage of establishing a tele-communication network infrastructure. We also possess 98 perennial dams which can enhance irrigation for all-year round farming.
Further, our district is also host to rich history dating back to the First Chimurenga. Heroes like Mbuya Nehanda came from this region. The district is also home to Msekure Mountains, the departure place for various tribes of Zimbabwe having arrived from Guruuswa.
Q: Enlighten us on the progress made since the Mazowe Investment Conference was held last year.
A: We experienced a positive upward trajectory in terms of the projects as we have been managing to approve at least two serious investors every month. Currently, there are eight new investors ready to start construction and implementation of their projects. Last month we witnessed a ground breaking ceremony of a tile manufacturing company in Concession, owned by a consortium of Zimbabweans based in the diaspora. All things being equal, a chemical and detergent manufacturer should be coming to set up a factory here in Concession with effect from next week. The other six have indicated ability and willingness to set up shop before the end of this year. This will bring prosperity to the district as new jobs will be created resulting in more disposable income circulating amongst our people. We are very excited about these developments and prospects.
Q: As Government intensifies efforts to develop the north corridor through Mazowe and Kanyemba to East and Central Africa, how will your district benefit from this?
A: Basically Mazowe is an entry and exit point to the corridor. The two districts are host to the country’s future tourism and logistical corridor. I see tourism booming on this route because of the rich historical and archaeological sites dotted around these two districts. Remember the rise and fall of Mbuya Nehanda can be traced back to these two districts and so does the history of the decline of the Mutapa State through the demise of Nyatsimba Mutota in the Dande Valley. There are so many sites that can bring formidable tourism to the country; the Banje and Huro Dzevasikana Mountains in Mazowe District will surprise many.
The dinosaur footprints just outside Kanyemba, slave holding bays and the salt pans on the shores of the Zambezi River will soon become major tourist attractions. Increased activity to these sites and venues can only start showing benefits in Mazowe.
Talking of logistical advantage, the North corridor through Mazowe to Kanyemba will provide a shorter access route to other African countries up north. The benefits are too numerous to mention. My only hope and prayer is that we quickly get out of this pandemic so that we can engage with colleagues in other Rural District Councils (RDCs) and more stakeholders to unlock value.
Q: RDCs seem to struggle to attract investments despite abundant natural resources. What are the challenges and how does your district fare in this regard?
A: RDCs were structured to provide service to residents and collect revenue, hence the President’s call for transformation. I strongly agree with that notion because this country’s resources are so diverse and rich and are resident in our districts. In order to help market the district and promote investments, Mazowe RDC engaged the services of a consultant to work with the council team in identifying and nurturing investment opportunities. I can proudly say we have now established a very strong clientele base which we have religiously maintained and sustained since last year.
Q: President Mnangagwa has called on local authorities to shift focus from political roles to being engines of economic development and transformation. How is your council fitting into this?
A: To avoid policy politicisation, council has established an Investments Committee comprising technocrats from various Government departments in the district to spearhead economic development and transformation issues. Council has also put in place an Ease of Doing Business Committee, which is purely composed of the executive and chaired by the chief executive officer. These ensure efficiency and transparency in the manner we do our day to day business.
Efforts are currently underway to hold more investment conferences and other activities to expose our business potential to the world. It is my wish to see the world coming to do business in Mazowe. Remember Mazowe has always been a brand since time immemorial; Mazoe Orange Crush, Mazoe oranges, golden stairs (referring to gold that’s abundant in the district). I am sure you will see more of our activities post this current Covid-19 scourge.
Q: Zimbabwe’s New Parliament is being built on Mazowe’s entry point. What does this mean for the district?
A: The New Parliament is a game-changer that will influence development in the district because it has a multiplier downstream effect in terms of commerce and administration. This will mean employment for residents of Mazowe, opportunities to supply raw materials towards the anticipated massive construction activities that will soon take place around the Parliament site. Like we always tell our clients; move one step out of Parliament, you will be in Mazowe, therefore, there’s every reason for business to be set up in Mazowe district.
Circumferential development around the New Parliament structure will have a downstream and multiplier effect to the world of commerce, and Mazowe has the biggest advantage on the supply side of raw materials, employment, water provision and various products to support the new population.
Q: In a few words, what’s your call to the investing world out there?
A: The world must come to Mazowe. As the President rightly said when he met Provincial Ministers (Ministers of State for Provincial Affairs), development should come from district and provincial gross domestic products. We are ready to play our part. Mazowe is open for business.