FINANCE and Economic Development Minister, Professor Mthuli Ncube is set to present the 2022 National Budget Statement today amid high expectations that more resources will be allocated to expedite completion of key capital projects in Matabeleland region.
The budget comes at a time when the Government under the Second Republic is focused on transforming the region in line with the five-year economic policy, the National Development Strategy (NDS1 2021-2025).
Several capital projects in Matabeleland are at different stages of completion and are expected to create more job opportunities for locals and help contribute to wider national economy as part of a transformative drive towards Vision 2030.
Among the notable projects being undertaken in the region is the construction of Lake Gwayi-Shangani in Hwange District, Matabeleland North; Tuli-Manyange Dam in Ntalale in Gwanda, Matabeleland South; the US$300 million rehabilitation of Beitbridge Border Post and dualisation, upgrading and tolling of the Beitbridge-Harare-Chirundu Highway.
Other projects in Government’s radar include the construction of the 250-bed Lupane Provincial Hospital to be completed in December 2022, the Lupane Composite Office Phase Two and the construction of lecture blocks for the provincial teachers’ college situated in Hwange.
The Lake Gwayi-Shangani project, a major component of the National Matabeleland Zambezi Water Project (NMZWP), is a long-term solution to Bulawayo’s water woes.
The project, expected to be completed in December, was made a top priority this year with Government allocating $4,5 billion towards its completion. The project has three phases — the construction of the Gwayi-Shangani Dam, the construction of a pipeline from the dam to Bulawayo and another pipeline, which will draw water from the Zambezi River.
The US$1,5 billion Hwange Power Station expansion project is almost 70 percent complete, according to latest updates, and will add 600MW to the national grid by end of 2022.
The modernisation of the Beitbridge Border Post is in line with Vision 2030 of attaining an upper middle-income economy, and is one of the key projects being undertaken by Government to promote the ease of doing business and trade facilitation.
Government is also pushing the ongoing Emergency Road Rehabilitation Programme 2 (ERRP2), launched by President Mnangagwa in response to the damaged road network throughout the country as well as devolution funding, which are transforming key infrastructure in both urban and rural areas.
Among major roads being worked on in the region is rehabilitation of the Bulawayo-Nkayi Road, Bulawayo-Tsholotsho Road and Fighting Road, which connects Kwekwe-Lupane and Tsholotsho.
Sound road rehabilitation is seen as a key enabler in transforming Zimbabwe into an upper middle-income economy by 2030.
Matabeleland North Provincial Affairs and Devolution Minister Richard Moyo said the region expects today’s budget statement to step-up the milestones achieved so far.
“Government should channel more funds towards outstanding projects. We are actually looking forward to the National Budget prioritising key projects such as the Bulawayo-Nkayi Road, which has already started although there isn’t much progress due to the onset of rainy season,” he said.
“Our hope is that the budget will ensure tremendous progress when it comes to the rehabilitation of the Bulawayo-Tsholotsho Road because our road network is in a poor state. We also have the Gwayi-Shangani Dam project, which is in progress.”
Minister Moyo said the speedy completion of Lake Gwayi-Shangani, Hwange Thermal Power Station Units 7 and 8 expansions and Lupane capital projects will greatly transform the province.
Bulawayo Provincial Affairs and Devolution Minister Judith Ncube hailed Government’s focus on addressing the city’s perennial water challenges and stressed the need to boost industry revival as well.
“We expect the budget to touch on Bulawayo’s perennial water challenges, which are however, set to be a thing of the past. The President himself said that by the end of December 2022, we must be getting the first drop of water from Lake Gwayi-Shangani,” she said.
“Our industries require water and for investors to come to Bulawayo, there should be enough water. The manufacturing industry also relies heavily on agriculture and therefore it is important that the sector continues to get support through the Presidential Inputs Scheme.”
Minister Ncube said the budget should also prioritise the refurbishment of the Bulawayo Thermal Power Station to stimulate economic growth as well as addressing shortage of textbooks and ICT equipment in schools.
She also commended Government for re-opening Ekusileni Medical Centre and urged the Treasury to increase support for other health centres in the city.
Matabeleland South Provincial Affairs and Devolution Minister Abedinico Ncube implored Treasury to scale up funding for road maintenance.
He said several projects such as tarring of the Gwanda-Maphisa Road, Bulilima-Tsholotsho Road, Tshitshi-Maphisa and rehabilitation of the Bulawayo-Maphisa Road were long overdue. Minister Ncube said the budget also had to prioritise construction of the Gwanda Provincial Hospital and Gwanda State University.
“There are a number of main roads, which should be considered under the 2022 budget. There is need to rehabilitate the Bulawayo- Maphisa and Gwanda-Maphisa roads, which are in a bad state,” he said.
“In Mangwe there is a tar which ends in Tshitshi area and it needs to be extended so that it joins the Bulawayo-Maphisa Road.”
Minister Ncube said while there are outstanding projects, Government under the Second Republic had made significant strides in spearheading development in the province and singled out the on-going US$300 million Beitbridge Border Post upgrade.
The province is also home to numerous irrigation schemes, which Government, working with the private sector, is working to resuscitate by upgrading requisite infrastructure to ensure adequate food production.
The projects also cover revitalising the livestock production sector to which the region has high comparative advantage, as well as sprucing up key road infrastructure such as the Bulawayo-Beitbridge Highway, among others to ensure smooth transportation.
“There is also need for funds to be allocated towards revival of Liebiegs Factory in West Nicholson. A number of irrigation schemes need rehabilitation while there is need to establish irrigation schemes in some parts of the province,” said Minister Ncube.