Three ministers hailed for championing rural development

HARARE - Rural district councils have hailed President Emerson Mnangagwa’s administration for paying primary attention to the rural people’s living conditions and concentrating on the stabilisation and betterment of their livelihoods.

Association of Rural District Councils of Zimbabwe (ARDCZ) said Mnangagwa — who rose to power in November last year following a de facto military take over which saw veteran leader Robert Mugabe reluctantly ceding power — has so far vigorously pushed ahead with a view to making the rural people well off in the near future.

There are 60 rural district councils in the country’s eight administrative rural provinces that have suffered neglect under the Mugabe regime.

The ARDCZ said convenience of the rural people is being taken into consideration preferentially and absolutely under the Mnangagwa regime.

The association singled out three “super ministers” — Environment, Water and Climate minister Oppah Muchinguri-Kashiri; Local Government, Public Works and National Housing minister July Moyo and Transport and Infrastructural Development minister Joram Gumbo — that it said have performed exceptionally well so far since the inauguration of the new government, pursuing people-oriented policies that aim to invest in rural infrastructure and markets as a first step towards eradicating poverty, improving economies and establishing food security for all rural folk.

ARDCZ president Killer Zivhu said the three ministers’ leadership would make rural areas richer and more powerful.

Muchinguri-Kashiri has started drilling at least 840 boreholes in rural areas at a cost of $4,5 million across the country, with the job expected to be completed within the next three months.

The programme is aimed at improving sanitation and access to better water for rural Zimbabwean communities in line with the World Health Organisation (WHO) stipulations.

Zinwa has already deployed drilling rigs for the programme, and Zivhu said these new boreholes will be central to increased safe water supply coverage in rural Zimbabwe.

Muchinguri-Kashiri has also been hailed for launching a fisheries initiative — the first step towards harnessing commercial benefits from dams in rural areas.

She is moving to put fingerlings in dams, a move Zivhu said would spur commercial fishing in the rural areas on a substantial scale.

He hailed the minister for ensuring idle dams in the rural areas were radically transforming livelihoods and contributing to national economic recovery and growth efforts.

She was also commended for okaying the setting up of tourism facilities near rural dams.

Gumbo was hailed for moving in fast to rehabilitate rural roads and other infrastructure such as bridges extensively damaged by the incessant rains that pounded the country countrywide last year.

Several roads and bridges succumbed to the effects of Cyclone Dineo which caused severe road infrastructural damage particularly in the southern parts of the country and Midlands early last year.

Rural councils hailed him for his new thrust to improve the state of rural infrastructure.

Moyo was hailed for shoring up rural district councils’ finance through his intervention to reinstate the collection of land development levy to councils.

Rural district councils have been bemoaning the unilateral transfer of the collection of land development levy in resettlement areas from them to the Lands ministry, with the move starving them of revenue.

The changes were ushered in through the Public Finance Management Amendment Act, 2016 gazetted as Act No. 6 of 2016 on October 28, 2016, making key amendments to the interaction between responsible ministries in central government and its “public entities” or statutory bodies and government-controlled companies over which ministries exercise oversight.

Zivhu said the reinstatement of the levy means most rural councils — constrained by inadequate resources — could discharge its mandate better with better finances.

He hailed the minister for returning this function to rural authorities.

“To us, these are super ministers whose initiatives will improve rural lives and livelihoods,” he said, adding “all roads to sustainable development lead to rural areas, where the vast majority of the country’s poorest people live.”

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