The Sunday Mail
Debra Matabvu and Lincoln Towindo
GOVERNMENT sank over $6 billion during the first half of the year into infrastructure development projects to stimulate economic productivity, while an additional $18 billion would be injected during the remainder of the year, official data shows.
The projects, which fall under the 2020 Zimbabwe Infrastructure Investment Programme covering transport, water and sanitation, public amenities, and irrigation, have all been financed through domestic financial resources. Funding from international finance institutions such as the World Bank dried up in the past two decades owing to sanctions imposed by the United States (US), the European Union (EU) and the United Kingdom (UK).
An update on national projects from the Ministry of Finance and Economic Development availed to The Sunday Mail indicates progress on 12 major developmental projects ranging from rehabilitation of the Harare-Masvingo-Beitbridge Road to the upgrading of Robert Gabriel Mugabe (RGM) International Airport.
Minister of State for Presidential Affairs in charge of Implementation and Monitoring Dr Jorum Gumbo told The Sunday Mail that most projects were progressing well.
“What we have noticed since the coming in of the New Dispensation is that we can harness local resources for development,” said Dr Gumbo.
“This does not mean that we do not need foreign support, but it goes to show how much we can do with local resources. Using the 100-Day Rapid Results System, we are managing to move from one point to the next, slowly but surely.
“Of course, the pandemic is causing a lot of disruptions to progress but this has not stopped us from doing our work. You saw recently the President commissioning part of the Harare-Beitbridge highway, and we are saying that is progress we are talking about.
“There is a lot that is happening across the country, the problem is that much of it has not been receiving adequate publicity.”
Of the $24 billion resource envelope for the infrastructure projects, half will be financed from fiscal resources while the rest will be mobilised through loans, support from development partners and statutory as well as public entities’ resources.
Data from Treasury shows that nine out of the 12 priority projects are all being funded through the National Budget, while funding for the rest is coming from international loans and grants, primarily from China.
Projects being funded by local resources include the restoration of road infrastructure destroyed by Cyclone Idai, upgrading of the Harare-Beitbridge highway, construction of Causeway, Marovanyati and Chivhu Dams, and the rehabilitation of Darwendale and Warren Control Pump Station.
“Exogenous factors, in the form of Covid-19, climate change impacts of drought and floods as well as a difficult operating environment have necessitated reprioritisation of spending away from the development budget towards more urgent health priorities,” reads the statement.
“Against the fiscal allocation of $12 billion towards infrastructure, a total of $6,6 billion has already been deployed towards projects as at July 31 2020 focusing on transport, water and sanitation, public amenities, irrigation amongst others.
“This excludes the significant funds that are being disbursed under the 2020 intergovernmental fiscal transfer (devolution), which are also being earmarked to address basic social infrastructure needs at the community level.”
The five contractors working on the Harare-Beitbridge highway have since been paid $1,8 billion.
“Thirty-six kilometres have been completed and opened to traffic, 15km have been primed and await surfacing (tarring). A total of 200km is targeted for completion before year-end.”
A further $300 million has been poured into repairing infrastructure damaged by Cyclone Idai, with works on major roads such as Birchenough-Chipinge, Nyanga-Rusape and Machongwe-Kopa now complete.
Other roads damaged by the cyclone, including Skyline-Chimanimani and Wengezi-Skyline, are over 95 percent complete.
For sanitation, Government sunk $385 million for the rehabilitation of water systems in Harare and Bulawayo.
Rehabilitation of Darwendale and Warren Control pump stations in Harare have commenced, with contractors now awaiting shipment of 19 pumps.
Cumulatively, Government has disbursed over $1 billion for the construction of three dams: Causeway (80 percent complete), which is now impounding water; Marovanyati (96 percent complete); and Chivhu (30 percent complete). Government also allocated $139 million for the rehabilitation of existing irrigation schemes, planning and implementation of new schemes, which is ongoing.
Through support from cooperating partners, three major projects are currently being implemented. At the RGM International Airport, Chinese contractors are upgrading the runway, building a new terminal building, additional aero-bridges and upgrading the communication systems, among other works.
“Twenty-seven (27) percent for overall landslide works have been completed at RGM International Airport. Excavations and foundation works for arrivals and departures extensions have been completed. Concrete works are at 60 percent and 55 percent of brickwork done to date at level 4,90m.”
Government is also projecting completion the New Parliament building by March next year after completion of the six-storey superstructure, with $30 million disbursed so far while other funds were provided by the Chinese government through a grant.
Construction of Hwange units 7 and 8 – funded through a loan from the Export-Import Bank of China – is now 44 percent complete.
Economist Professor Gift Magano said the projects were of great importance as they significantly contributed to the economy.
“Infrastructure is a key enabler for economic growth and by focusing on infrastructure Government is stimulating economic growth,” he said.
An array of other smaller projects include the manufacture of power transformers by Zesa, with 322 transformers having been completed out of a target of 570 during the third 100-day cycle.
Twenty satellite schools in Chiredzi have also been upgraded and registered.
Refurbishment of the ZimAlloys A3 furnace had reached 60 percent completion by July 22.
The Midlands State University Innovation Hub last month started a national priority programme in indigenous fruit and herbs.
Through Government support, the Intrachem Explosive Plant is under construction, with the superstructure now complete and storage tanks for raw materials erected.
In Mutoko, a tomato processing plant has been completed. The plant seeks to improve livelihoods among youths through participation in the fruit and vegetable value chain. Electrification of Kanyemba was at 25 percent complete as of last week.