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Misplaced priorities: Mathebeleland is marginalized and abjectly poor

11 Aug 2016 at 16:32hrs | Views
The seeking to restore a monarch in Mathebeleland never ceases to amaze most of us who come from the region. Is restoring a Khumalo clan indeed a priority for our region? What value is the King of Mathebeleland going to add in the development of the region? Are the people of Mathebeleland agreeable to the restoration of a King? Have they been contacted by a slender referendum to suggest that the people are agreeable to restore the lost Khumalo monarch? Is it just being assumed that the people of Mathebeleland will go along with the idea of the restoration of the lost monarch? Is it not disenfranchisement to negotiate restoration of a monarch to the peoples of Mathebeleland behind their backs, without a formal request from the people?

Would it be possible if the architects involved in restoring the monarch lay out their arguments to all stakeholders of the region, communicate their program plan, tell us why restoration deserves priority than all other development initiatives in the region? Why do we need a King? Who is going to sustain the overly bloated King's kraal? (Too many wives of the King and his children and his security and domestic staff) I doubt if people of Mathebeleland would tolerate another scenario of "Mphoko" in disguise of a King, milking the treasury at the rate of 1000 US dollars/day.  We would like to know how their plan A, B and plan C look like, their action plan, value adding initiatives that give us a cue that restoration of a monarch is indeed worth entertaining because of it s economic and social benefits and we assist morally to restore Khumalo lost glory.   

Zimbabwe has many kingdoms, for argument sake, if there was unanimous success in restoring the Khumalo Kingdom in Mathebeleland, what is going to stop other Kingdoms come up with the same demands, restoration of their lost Kingdoms too? Can the central government afford over-head budgetary costs to entertain restoration of lost Kingdoms, about fifteen of them or more? Our country is politically, economically and socially at its knees, instead of taking the country on board; to another level of development using global modern technologies around us we are to entertain the restoration of Ndebele monarch.

Home and abroad, it is well established how much in debt this country is, debt going to about 11 billion US dollars. Our eyes, not only the opposition but in Zanu PF itself, are all looking forward to the possible exit of Robert Mugabe from power. Then comes the task of rebuilding an economy that is in tatters. All aspects of life in Zimbabwe has been turned up-side-down by a single greedy person: Robert Mugabe. All front-line-services are destroyed; roads infrastructure is in shambles both in towns and cities. There is no reliable energy to boost industry to produce so that people can get jobs. The railway system is broken down completely. These are some of the challenges at national level. Most industries have overly aged technologies as means to produce, their products are substandard.

To resuscitate the comatose economy of Zimbabwe, we shall have to go to the lending countries that will give us money. We shall need to owner up to the existing debt ever to get new debt. There is no money to finance the restoration of lost Kingdoms at all. The existing Kingdoms in South Africa, if it's the reason to emulate from them, are not productive at all but are milking the treasury in billions of rands sterling at the expense of the common people who still have not benefited from the South African independence. Their relevance to the common people is not tangible either than hero-worshipping the royal clan for what they are. As women we dread the traditions that will be expected of us to do disregarding the fast growing global economical development and enlightenment. We fear polygamous institutions we shall be made to subject ourselves into. This is wholly outdated. We fear u Mhlanga dances that expose our young women and growing girl-children's upper parts of their bodies to the pleasure of men folk.

Let's go to Mathebeleland North, the most marginalized provinces in the country. The rhythm and grammar we wish to impart on our growing girl-children and young women is education first and then community development can begin in earnest and in truth. Mathebeleland needs community development first and foremost and not to dwell on emotions of royal presence, they are rigid and too traditional institutions. We need to change our lives for the better. We do not want to be pushed back to the middle ages, royal glories of traditional Khumalo dynasties of yester year. Their desire to be worshiped, and to live at the expense of the national treasury is the height of folly, is wholly absurd to say the least.

Mathebeleland needs community development and not a monarch. The question, what is community development? We start by defining what is community? Unlike a monarch that is stagnant and static, community development is a human complex that is multidimensional, capable of growth and development. Community development is a planned process and change is involved in the process. The planned process is intended to bring about positive change. Community development is responsible in planning services, building community networks, improve the quality of life of the community and enhance social justice in the community.

In Mathebeleland, allow me to take Lupane as a case study because I have done a lot of research regarding Mathebeleland North and the community development that can practically change the lives of the rural people. The processes involved in community development must be people driven for it to be a success. Situations where interventions came from the top- down resulted in resentfulness of progress from the community concerned. This is evidenced by the resentfulness of Lupane people when a university was built in Lupane. This development showed great insensitivity on the part of the government. Lupane has barely enough primary schools. The government, without consulting the peoples of Lupane imposes a University College openly benefits the peoples of Mashonalands.  It is in this respect that a planned intervention that is people driven ensures acceptance by citizens of that particular community. (The restoration of a monarch in Mathebeleland is a top-down intervention.)

Lupane's dream got lost after independence
Lupane is a province of North East Mathebeleland. It was classified as a tribal trust lands and reserves during the Rhodesian era, meaning remote and underdeveloped. Lupane like all other regions of Mathebeleland hoped and yearned for some form of development to uplift their impoverished lives after independence. Instead Lupane was the center stage for genocide against the people of Mathebeleland. For seven years the people of Lupane lived to witness their own people, men and women, bundled and butchered in their own yards at the glare of young children. Countless mass graves are still in existence in most parts of Lupane. This will be evidence for generations to come of the atrocities committed by ZANU PF against the people of Mathebeleland.

Community development in Lupane comes 36 years too late. The people of Lupane have waited for community development since independence because this is what their leader Dr. Joshua Nkomo promised them during the first election campaign for independence in 1979/80. Dr. Joshua Nkomo promised them clean water and sanitation, rural development that emphasizes the erecting of permanent, durable housing and assisting in agricultural inputs and use of mechanized agricultural production. He also promised the peoples of Lupane schools: primary and secondary schools within reach. The people of Lupane see these developments taking place in other areas of Zimbabwe, and they have asked questions, why not in Lupane? Their lives have minimally changed since the 36 years of independence.

Description of a village structure in Lupane

The villages look like the way the colonialists had prescribed them to live, scattered beyond the Shangaan River so as to have access to water for themselves and the livestock, and systematically deprived from good agricultural lands. Catchments and regrouping of villages were later determined by the availability of water and school presence for the children. Each homestead has huts up to about five on the average. The main hut remained the kitchen were all main activities took place: eating place, resting place, family meetings and as a favorite guest hut. Outside the homestead, about 100 meters away, is a Kraal for the livestock.
A typical village in Mathebeleland North
Cooking, (exclusively women`s job) is done in the kitchen in most cases but could also be done outside if the weather was favorable to that. When cooking, the wood fuel gives warmth, the comfort of all the members of the family. Pollution that causes health hazards caused by wood burning is not considered in the first instance. The illnesses caused by wood burning are not seen as direct attribute to it. In a situation where generations have known nothing else either than wood burning as the source of domestic fuel, how would it still be  possible to see wood burning as the main cause of chest infections, lung cancer, early child deaths!

Modeling a community development in Lupane: durable homes

An effective community development in Lupane would mean structured intervention, bringing together of village populations to form growth points. We would be talking about at least 15 growth points the whole of Lupane area.

A Kimberley brick house according to President Kaunda of Zimbabwe Each growth point would have permanent housing. Within that area there shall be allocation of farming areas where farm equipment shall be shared by the community equally to boost farming production. A clinic and a school will be part of the community incentives to accepting growth points.

Purpose of structured growth points
Introducing development in a structured growth point becomes possible by: Introducing services; primary schools, secondary schools, technical college (a university is already in existence) a clinic, resourcing the community to meet its needs; allocation of agricultural lands introducing farm managers and experts farming equipment centers, irrigation machinery/ pumping stations and water reticulations centers, building community networks; grocery shops, department stores, churches, primary and secondary micro economies creation, centers for social activities and recreational  places, rest houses  and motels, beer halls, market places, improve the quality of life by project developments; water projects, energy projects, health inspection

Mathebeleland Zambezi Water Project (MZWP)
It is a water project currently undergoing construction in north of Mathebeleland. The purpose of the project is bringing water from the great Zambezi River to the second largest city of Zimbabwe, Bulawayo. The chronic water shortages in Bulawayo have been experienced since 1910. This water project (called then by another name) was supposed to have started 100 years ago, whereby the costs of such a project were less than a thousand pound sterling: a lot of money back then. The actual construction started in the 1990s and the cost of the project escalates by the year to match inflation. It could now fetch about 1, 1 billion US$ dollars with the current inflation.

The Mathebeleland Zambezi Water Project is divided in three phases:

Phase I: Gwayi-Shangani-Dam,
Phase II: Gwayi-Shangani pipeline to Bulawayo,
Phase III: Gwayi-Shangani to Zambezi pipeline.

The Gwayi-Shangani confluence has a gouge intended to build a hydro- electric power plant. This energy source is intended to benefit manly the rural populations of North, North West and North East of Mathebeleland. This is where the situation of Lupane, becoming a beneficiary of the intended project proposal, very fascinating. Firstly Lupane will benefit from the water project, water itself as well as the energy from the hydro-electric power station, a sub- product of the actual water project.

This water project, upon completion, will be able to benefit most communities of 100 miles radius from the main pipeline. For once the people of Mathebeleland, who have had to endure perennial rains for decades of years, will be able to access reliable water source for the agricultural needs as well as the needs of their livestock in that area.

Advantages of a hydro-electric power plant
Hydro-electric energy generation provides a method for creating electricity from a renewable resource. Hydro-electric power is used in almost all regions of the world even Zimbabwe (Kariba Hydro-Electric power) in comparison to other energy sources hydro-electric energy is a clean renewable alternative source of energy. Once it is built it does require no additional fossil fuel to operate it. Hydro-electric energy has a dependable energy output and has low maintenance costs. They can operate for many years with very little maintenance.

Asking the question, how appropriate is the hydro-electric power for the people of Lupane. The answer is that it is wholly appropriate as it is supplied from larger projects whose objective is to bring development in Mathebeleland. Hydroelectric power has a long history in Zimbabwe whose energy is still depended from the Kariba hydroelectric power station.

The environmental impact assessment that was done to build Gwayi-Shangani Dam that is being built at the confluence of both rivers was satisfied for the purpose of the MZWP project that brings water to Bulawayo. The additional setting up of the hydro-electric power plant was an afterthought that does not require a second environmental auditing. The position of the gouge where the turbines will be positioned does not in any where conflict or compromise the ecosystems found around the confluence. Here technology is taking advantage of a natural existence of a gouge to erect a hydro-electric power plant. The constant supply of water in the dam is done by Phase II of the project that pumps water from the Zambezi into the dam. By so doing: there is a maintained and a desired flow of water flowing down the gouge. The perennial and unreliable rainfalls also do not affect the levels of water needed for the hydro-electric power plant.

Implementation of alternative energy source
Definition of community capacity building (according to Skinner community strengths 1997) "is the ability of a community organization and groups to build their structures, systems and skills so they are better able to define and achieve their objectives and engage in consultation and planning to  manage community enterprises."

 It is paramount to know exactly how much energy consumption will a growth point require for its daily us. The purpose of energy availability must be known to the community as a whole who are the consumers. Energy will be used for: for domestic purposes, for commercial sites and primary industries mushrooming as a result of the presence of a growth point culminating from the availability of reliable energy and water, for street lighting, for other purposes.

The size of the growth point will be about 50 families. The average size of a household will be 5 rooms.  The total consumption of all energy uses will be calculated to make an estimate of how much a growth point would need.   These calculations will be narrowed down to the actual energy per household requirements. These estimates and calculations must be done by the community itself to get the feeling of responsibility their community has on its own consumption.    

"Activities, resources, support that strengthens skills, abilities and confidence of people and the community groups to take active action and leading roles in the development of communities." (Skinner Strengthening Communities 2006)

In the same manner, calculations will be done to estimate the volume of water the community needs from the MZWP: for domestic use, for irrigation purposes, for recreation purposes, for the livestock, for other purposes

In that case a community will need a water reticulation plant to treat the raw water coming from MZWP. In growth point a waste water treatment plant is of big importance. Villagers coming together may be a big step in development if it is planned carefully.

Training needed for the purpose of the power plant
It includes aspects of training organizational und personal development and resource building, organized and planned in a self-conscious manner reflecting principles of empowerment and equality (Skinner Community strengths 1997)

There shall be a grid station near the growth point that will supply the growth point with energy. It is very necessary to allocate duties in running and maintaining the grid station. On site electrical engineers, that will maintain the grid station will need training in that respect. There are engineers needed to run and maintain the water treatment and the water reticulation plant.  Both projects: energy project and water project come from the same suppler whose remunerations will be administered on the same office.

Economic development as a result of availability of energy in the region
The people of Lupane will understand the need to drive an economy to be able to pay for the domestic and commercial energy needs of the community.  Their agricultural inputs must not be subsistent as before but must be income generating. Whereas wood energy was free, electricity will not be free.  The commercialization of agriculture enhances the following: Agricultural products will improve due to mechanization of agriculture e. g. irrigation schemes. A surplus in agricultural products will be sold to generate income. Market opportunities will develop due to agricultural products and other micro-economies, natural gas is present in Lupane. Drilling natural gas industry can be a substantial source of revenue for the people of Lupane as a whole, a major industry, The presence of a university and secondary schools may offer some employment for the community, water treatment plant will offer training and maintenance from the community, mushrooming of small scale industries that will give value to their agricultural products e.g. tinned tomatoes, tinned peas, tinned corn for sale to generate income, Possibility of major clinics that are able to use energy to be operational in major medical situations

Health and social aspects of alternative energy in Lupane
To mention the advantages of using hydroelectric energy in comparison to wood burning is an underestimate. The differences are wide apart. The community development has a lot to gain when given the chance to turn around their lives for better structured lives that has a lot to gain and a lot of scope for development. Hydroelectric energy is a clean, efficient, reliable energy globally. Wood burning, in the long run will not be reliable as the desertification in Lupane is clearly showing remarkable signs. The people in the community will experience healthy life transformations. A range of front line services will be available within a development package: clean energy use, clinics, schools, agricultural services, clean water and sanitation, development courses that improve their standards of living.  (MDG 2, 4, 5 & 6) Scope for development becomes wider, the ability of a community to afford recreation centers for leisure, football societies, women`s clubs etc. are facilitated within a developing process of a dynamic community.  

Challenges affecting a structured community development
The people of Lupane waited far too long for the development to take place. Whoever comes with some suggestion to transform lives in the area may face suspicion and resentment from the peoples of Lupane. To persuade people to come and live together in one area and sharing certain agricultural equipment may be very challenging. People may be very reluctant to leave their fathers, grandfathers, great grandfathers' graves and relocate at a new place without any emotional connections to parental linage. The people of Lupane have traditional beliefs. Physical nearness to certain members of the community can be treated with great suspicion. The bringing together of many people who have never lived with other villagers as close together as a growth point, may have adverse effects on development and progress. There are cultural issues to deal with. Accidents due to inadequate training in dealing with high voltage may happen. Growth points usually attract social life, if it not well maintained it can transform into havens of criminal pockets and prostitution.

Developing Lupane into a structured community is an ambitious target. The success of this kind of development will need an energy policy from the central government that will put people before politics.  An effective member of parliament is needed to spearhead strong leadership skills that will take capacity to capacity building that will build an effective community development. While the leadership is important, support structures, expertise, capital and training is also very important for the success of the project of this magnitude. This project has to be well thought through in the course of its implementation as it interplays with other development processes.

Opportunities will open up for the people of Lupane, resulting in developing stronger community networks, stronger community relationships, caring people, and safer welcoming communities. Implementing energy changes in Lupane entails a package of other development processes that will interplay to make a community grow.  Healthy communities are made of healthy people and their families. To create a healthy community is to create a sustainable development.

This is the language; the rhythm and grammar we the people of Mathebeleland should be talking and certainly not language to uplift only one family: the Khumalo clan, restoration of the monarch. We shall de-campaign the restoration of kingdoms in Zimbabwe and instead, be campaigners of change, social and economic development regional and national to turn around our lives from feudal existence to twenty first century level of development that other developed nations enjoy.

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