By Tangai Chipangura
Simon Khaya-Moyo, the former Zanu PF national chairman and current party spokesperson could not have put it better when he said on Friday that nobody will ever be able to “surpass Zanu PF’s extraordinary record in this lifetime!”
True, it is no mean feat to make people wear the same socks for a whole 35 years, never mind the state of the socks.
One of the most recent extraordinary exploits of this revolutionary party is putting together a government that believes an economy like ours can build a brand new multi-billion dollar city, even when the same government is close to shutting down — unable to pay its workers. What other party or government could ever be able to achieve this feat — in whatever lifetime?
The country was told last week in one of the government-controlled newspapers — in big, bold headlines — that the construction of the proposed new capital city was “taking shape”, and that financing of the project was on course.
The grand plan first came to light in 2012 and at that time, concerns were, more than anything else, about the proposed location, Mt Hampden, in President Robert Mugabe’s home district of Zvimba. Critics said the plan was a strategy to bring luxury closer to Mugabe’s doorstep.
Although even then, the economy of Zimbabwe could never have been able to sustain such a gigantic project, today the feasibility of a project of this magnitude makes the idea sound outright ludicrous.
To imagine that Cabinet would, under the obtaining economic reality, sit to deliberate on this utopia is laughable. But we are told that the Director of Physical Planning in the Local Government ministry, Ethel Mlalazi confirmed last week that Cabinet had indeed discussed and gave the green light for the project to go ahead.
What makes this otherwise great plan sound sadly comic, even tragic, is the fact that we have national leaders of a country that is on its economic knees, who find Cabinet time to discuss impracticable issues of this nature.
What is it that would drive a Cabinet agenda to accommodate issues like the construction of a new capital city in a country that has literally shutdown? What will be going on inside the heads of the men and women that form our Cabinet when they sit down and seriously agree to deliberate on this fantasy?
Yet the same group of people has no idea where the money to foot the next government salary bill will come from.
Granted, there is absolutely nothing wrong with the ideas; in fact, it is noble as it’s everybody’s dream that we decongest Harare by constructing a state-of-the-art capital, complete with a new State House for the great leader and VIP villas built adjacent to a wildlife sanctuary and monument — but surely we need a serious and realistic leadership.
What our government is doing, if last week’s media reports are to be believed, is behaving like a primary school pupil who does not have pencils, books or shoe polish, but is worrying himself to death over parking space for an imaginary state-of-the-art vehicle that he dreams of buying when he finishes school and gets a job.
The new dream capital whose construction our Cabinet is so keenly focused on, is envisaged to have luxury hotels and shopping malls, three-way freeways, a new Parliament building surrounded by recreational parks and government offices and official residences for the Speaker of Parliament and President of Senate.
In short, our government is spending a lot of time discussing the construction of a multi-billion dollar paradise city while the economy slides down to unprecedented levels and poverty reeks throughout the country.
Zimbabwe is on fire right now and its people are struggling to survive. The nation expects its leaders to be concerned about the misery that pervades the country.
The last thing they need to be told is that the President chairs meetings where Cabinet ministers sit and dream of heavenly nirvana in the midst of this grim reality.
Honestly, how could a country that has failed to provide its citizens with such basic needs like adequate food, decent shelter, jobs, clean drinking water, electricity and roads even dream of building luxury cities at a cost that would make even their benefactors like China think twice before embarking on such projects?
The only plausible explanation to this eccentricity is that someone is out to steal money under the guise of planning the dream city whose existence will forever remain on paper. Feasibility studies will fill several sharks’ pockets with money while identification of partners will present another opportunity for heavy palm greasing.
But, in the end, nothing will ever materialise out of this folly of sick minds. It is all a game of creating thieving opportunities for our insatiable politicians.
Leader of the project has, by the way, been selected to be Local Government minister Ignatius Chombo.
What is clear as day is that the majority of the current crop of our heavily recycled aged politicians will not live to see their dream city, were it to become reality. It cannot take a few years to bring our rotten economy back on its feet before money can be found to give Zvimba this heavenly face-lift.
What is worrying however is that while long-suffering Zimbabweans grapple with the debilitating politically-induced economic decay, our politicians are living in cloud cuckooland, dreaming on how best they could curry favour with the President.
Bringing the capital city to his home area with all the trappings of luxury would be the sure way to attract the attention of the king —even if it may realistically be pie in the sky.