Outrage Over Mugabe’s Plan To Move Zimbabwe’s Capital To Own Hometown

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Zimbabwe
President Robert Mugabe has come under fire after the government unveiled plans
to relocate the capital city from Harare to his rural district, a move his
coalition partners say they were not consulted on.
Local Government minister Ignatius
Chombo this week revealed that plans were underway to build a new parliament
building, government offices, a State House and residential properties in Mt
Hampden, about 40 kilometres west of Harare, to serve as the country’s new
capital city.

Chombo said the move was meant to
decongest the present capital city which has a population of more than 1.6
million people, the Zambian Watchdog reports.

The proposed city is in Zvimba
district, which is President Mugabe’s home district, and which already receives
higher funding from the government despite its relatively smaller population.
The report said Chombo, who hails from
the same district as the president, said the new city would be modelled
alongside the affluent Johannesburg of Sandton in South Africa.
Chinese companies involved in diamond
mining and which have been heavily investing in hotels and shopping malls in
Zimbabwe are expected to be given the contracts for the new project.
“Government will make sure that the
city has multiple supplies of water by setting up three to four water treatment
plants near the city, unlike the situation in Harare where water is pumped from
the city,” he said.
But Mugabe’s inclusive government
partners said they were not aware of the plans and speculated a section of his
Zanu-PF party wanted to use money siphoned from diamond mines to build their
rich enclave.
“As usual you never know, it could be
diamonds funds that they intend to use to build the city,” said Ms Priscilla
Musihairabwi-Mushonga from the Movement for Democratic Change.
Other Zimbabweans questioned the logic
of building a new city when most of the country’s urban centres were collapsing
due to the economic problems that have persisted for more than a decade.
One of the leading dailies, NewsDay,
in an editorial on Friday accused Chombo of “seeking (President) Mugabe’s
attention and to score Brownie points while at it” by pushing the project.
It wrote, “This is the same minister
who has presided over the decay in Harare and the best solution he can offer is
to build an affluent city for the same fat cats who continue to accumulate
wealth at the expense of the majority poor.”
“Instead of coming up with plans to
renew to renew dying cities such as Bulawayo, Gweru, Kwekwe and Kadoma, (Mr)
Chombo can only think of bringing luxury to (President) Mugabe’s doorstep,” the
paper added.
Zvimba already boasts of some of the
best roads in Zimbabwe and most households are electrified.
Mugabe has been in power since
independence in 1980 and has often been accused of under developing other
regions leading to the emergence of a secessionist movement in the southern
parts of the country.
His party is also fighting a provision
for devolution of power in the new constitutions, which is supported by regions
who feel marginalised in the distribution of the national cake.

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