This is the situation in Nyamandlovu’s Umguza some few kilometres North west of Bulawayo the country’s second largest city.
People of Matebeleland accuse the former Robert Mugabe Zanu (PF) party led government for underdeveloping their region with former Bulawayo Mayor Joshua Malinga, who is also a Zanu-(PF) Politburo member, recently publicly blaming the Matabeleland political leadership for its deliberate silence when it comes to advancing the region’s cause.
“There is a leadership vacuum in the region and some leaders are not moving with the people,” Malinga told the state weekly newspaper recently.
“It is not good to insult the people, leaders should lead the people like the late Vice President Dr Joshua Nkomo and King Mzilikazi.” He said leaders from the region lacked a common vision and agenda on how they could carry out developmental projects.
“The main problem is that we do not have a common agenda as leaders of Matabeleland and that explains why we fight each other in the media,” said Malinga. He said despite having different political affiliations, political leaders needed to meet and discuss issues affecting the region.
“Instead we should understand our problems as a group and discuss them and how we intend to solve them.”
Malinga said the Gukurahundi issue could not continue to be ignored or denied space in public debates.
“There is a need for a deliberate affirmative action to heal the people’s emotions in order to bring meaningful development,” he said.
“Such issues of national importance should be discussed openly and the leadership must learn to accept criticism. Criticism adds value to our leaders and it does not mean that we hate them”, added Malinga
Despite the presence of real underdevelopment evident in the region such as poor road, dilapidated water systems and dead industrial activities Ndebele politicians who are near Robert Mugabe have lambasted their Matabeleland counterparts accusing them of being lazy.
Such politicians who want to please the unopposed aged Zanu (PF) leader Robert Mugabe include John Nkomo and Simon Khaya Moyo.
A visit by Radio VOP at Umguza in Nyamandlovu early this week has revealed that the region is indeed underdeveloped. People there had gone for more than a decade without having a source of water. The situation had gone bad to the extent of them abandoning having conjugal rights because of a serious shortage of water.
Thanks to the United Nations through its donor agencies operating in the country which recently rescued the looming serious health risk in the area, injecting more than US$4 million for drilling 15 boreholes to be used by over 850 villagers.
DP Foundation a UN member organisation’s Chief Executive Mrs Mildred Sandi the one in charge of revitalisation of such projects in Matabeleland told Radio VOP ,during the visit that they were surprised to note that after 30 years of independence there were still people surviving in areas without any sources of water.
“When we came here I was shocked, amazed to see how people lived without safe drinking water for a decade to a point some said we can’t go to bed and have the conjugal rights because we have to bath after that. I wondered how people lived without water. They had to fetch water at some 20km distance and some had to work for water. Those who had water say you have to work. Here is my piece of land, you can till it and have bucket of water”, she said.
Villagers have also established an irrigation scheme they have called Papamani which they are using for generating income. The irrigation project manager Stanford Moyo said there was no hope of life before UN came to their rescue.
“The situation which prevailed here before the intervention of UN was pathetic. We had no water and we used to work for water, can you imagine?. We approached a number of local business people who failed to assist the situation until the time we caught up with DP Foundation who later mobilised resources for the revitalisation of this irrigation scheme, which we are now using for income generating projects, “Moyo said.
One of the residents and member of the irrigation project says their lives have changed by the irrigation project. Some of the boreholes which had existed before in the area had failed due to negligence, after the white farmers who drilled them were thrown out under President Robert Mugabe’s land seizure policy.
The peasant farmers who took over the farms had no resources to maintain the boreholes, but the UN has renovated them.
There has been heated debate in the past weeks with Matabeleland region’s leadership expressing different views with regards to the alleged marginalisation of the region. Among them have been Governor and Resident Minister of Bulawayo, Ambassador Cain Mathema, who accused people in the region of being cry babies. Vice-President John Landa Nkomo also voiced his views on the issue and said the term “marginalisation” should be consigned to history and never be used in any context when referring to development issues in the region.
Last month, the leader of the MDC, Professor Welshman Ncube, called on the Government to act decisively to stop the marginalisation of Matabeleland before people from the region lose patience.
Veteran nationalist and former Cabinet Minister, Mr Enos Nkala, also joined in the debate and said the proposal by some elements fronted by Mthwakazi Liberation Front (MLF) to secede Matabeleland from the rest of the country was complex and could not be done without creating conflict. Zanu-(PF) Politburo member Cephas Msipa also added his voice and said the people of Matabeleland should not mourn about their situation instead take part in developing their area