The Sunday Mail
Having been born and bred in Mbire, there could not have been a better candidate to be the chief executive officer of the Rural District Council than Cloudious Majaya.
He knows the length and breadth of the district more like the back of his hand. And not only that, he knows, rather intimately, the challenges that Mbire faces, from a poor road network, malaria outbreaks to resource-poor communities.
“We are a relatively young Rural District Council, having been weaned off Guruve Rural District Council in 2007 but we have transformed Mbire in the short time that we have been in existence to be the centre of investment attraction.
“We have plans to turn Kanyemba into the second Victoria Falls and as we speak we have, due to demand, sold off all the land that is on the Zambezi River front. Land for holiday homes is selling fast, residential land (from high to low density) is also selling, literally, like hot cakes.”
Majaya says the renewed interest in Kanyemba could be because of the potential that the Government has seen in the border post, which offers the shortest link to economic markets like Zambia, Tanzania, Malawi and the DRC.
“To this end, the Government, in conjunction with the Zambian one, is working on a pontoon, which should be commissioned soon. And not only that, they have given us three kilometres of tarred road from the Zambezi River and another five kilometres of tarred road from Mahuwe.
“Whilst eight kilometres out of 130 kilometres might sound like a drop in the ocean, we are very grateful on this stance by Government as this proves that Kanyemba will gain its rightful place in the economic turnaround of the country.
“Probably that is the reason why there has been this rush for land in Kanyemba, it is the next investment destination for any serious investor. Admittedly we have sold out all the land on the river front, and I can say there are serious investors that have bought that land, but we have so many investment opportunities still open, like filling stations, lodges, holiday homes, camping sites and residential stands.”
To this end, the council will be hosting the annual Mbire investment conference from October 24 in Kanyemba.
“Mbire is a vast swathe of investment opportunities. The fact that we lie along the great Zambezi Escarpment should be enough proof to any doubting Thomas of the immense potential that lies here. There are plenty of hunting concessions here, plenty of hunting safaris and that is why we are saying we want to be the next Victoria Falls, without the Falls.”
Majaya readily acknowledges that for Kanyemba, and ultimately Mbire, to get going as a preferred investment centre, there is need to seriously consider working on the road network.
“We are constantly engaging the authorities on the extent of the worrisome state of our roads, we need to fix the roads so that we get going.
“We have had useful engagements with the Minister of State for Mashonaland Central, Advocate Martin Dinha as well as the Minister of Lands, Agriculture and Rural Resettlement, Retired Air Chief Marshall Perrance Shiri, who both have shown a willingness to have our problems attended to.”
At about 330 kilometres from Harare, Kanyemba at one point offered the shortest route to Zambia, until the Government banned the offloading of goods in transit at border posts to curb smuggling. In the old set-up, trucks would offload at Kanyemba and the goods would be carried by a ferry across the Zambezi into Zambia.
Besides the encouraging interest in Kanyemba, Majaya says generally Mbire is developing and is confident that in the next 10 years, it will be competing with some rural districts that have been in existence for a long time.
“We have since completed the construction of the Sapa 1 bridge and now we are moving to Sapa 2. The bridge over Hambe River should be done in the next month. All these are efforts to ensure that Mbire is accessible. We cannot talk of investment in Mbire without an existing road network.
“For example, if Chitsungo Hospital wants to do an emergency evacuation, they don’t need to come through Mushumbi, now that Hambe Bridge is almost complete, come rain or sunshine, they can drive straight to Mahuwe. Same with Chidodo, people would not travel to Chidodo during the rain season but with the help of the District Development Fund, we are working on the major bridges that lead to there so that even during the rain season, people can travel.”
Another project that excites Majaya is the revival of Arda Mushumbi.
“We cannot even quantify the investment that has been made into that farm, and it is not just about the financial input by the investors but the social impact the revival is going to have on Mushumbi in particular and Mbire in general.
“For example, if the workers, either casual or permanent, get paid, that means the economic fortunes here change. You can never quantify that kind of social and economic impact.”
Majaya says he recalls that growing up, there was a general frown on Mbire and that perception is slowly changing.
“To those of us who grew up here, we know how we were looked down upon as a place and a people, but I can safely say Mbire will no longer be the same in the next decade, that is if you share our vision.”