LUPANE, the provincial capital of Matabeleland North, is growing in leaps and bounds as the Second Republic continues to accelerate the implementation of transformative infrastructural development projects in the largely rural province, which lagged behind in terms of development.
Lupane is a rural semi-arid area with a growing population and some infrastructural expansion after it was accorded the capital status of the province in 1999, but development has been slow largely due to inadequate funding for infrastructural development.
However, under the Second Republic, Lupane has recorded transformative growth as evidenced by the implementation of new infrastructural projects in addition to existing ones, which had stalled for years due to a lack of funding. Government has completed the reconstruction of the Pupu Battlefield National Monument and clinic and both projects are ready for commissioning by President Mnangagwa.
For many years, the account of the Battle of Pupu deliberately overlooked the African perspective. In telling the story of the Battle of Pupu, the colonialists intentionally snubbed the Ndebele perspective.
Government has, however, reconfigured the memorial site, a place where King Lobengula’s Imbizo Regiment led by General Mtshana Khumalo, killed settler forces’ commander Major Allan Wilson and his fighters on 4 December 1893, to represent the whole story.
Pupu Clinic, with a target catchment area of over 12 000, comes as a relief to locals who were forced to walk long distances to neighbouring health facilities such as St Paul’s and Gomoza clinics. The project is part of President Mnangagwa’s universal health coverage programme under which he is championing the availing of quality healthcare services and specialties closer to the populace. As part of implementing the dictates of the Zimbabwe National Human Settlements Policy (ZNHSP), the Ministry of National Housing and Social Amenities and the Lupane Local Board, have engaged the contractor to provide water, sewer, and road network to ensure that the Lupane Hlalani Kuhle housing project, is fully functional.
A local company, Saltaway Enterprises, was contracted by the Ministry of National Housing and Social Amenities to do the civil works, including 19 housing units earmarked for civil servants at Hlalani Kuhle, as the Second Republic works towards improving the welfare of its workers.
The civil works include connecting water and sewer pipes and constructing access roads. Once the servicing is complete, Matabeleland North senior civil servants, most of whom are residents in Bulawayo, are expected to relocate to the provincial capital and occupy the houses.
The completion of the Welshman Mabhena Government Complex, the ongoing construction of Lupane Provincial Hospital, and the relocation of Lupane State University (LSU) have changed the face of the town and triggered economic growth.
Lupane district development co-ordinator, Ms Ennety Sithole said developmental projects in Lupane have given impetus to the growth of the provincial capital.
“We are very grateful here in Lupane, which is also the capital of Matabeleland North province, for the projects which are being implemented by the Second Republic. The projects, which include a provincial hospital, e-passport office, Lupane State University, and the Welshman Mabhena Government Complex, which are now complete and ready for occupation, have helped spur economic growth in our district, which is also rich in timber, gold and methane gas,” she said.
“We have civil servants’ houses, including the official residence of the Minister of State for Matabeleland North Provincial Affairs and Devolution, which have been constructed. The 5km stretch from Lupane Centre to the District Development Coordinator Complex has been tarred including 10km along Fighting Road.”
Ms Sithole said the projects have helped transform the face of Lupane and the entire province as a whole.
We are even more than happy with the reconstruction of the Pupu Battlefield National Monument, the clinic, and the staff houses. We also have the Bubi Lupane Irrigation Scheme, which is assisting our communities in terms of employment and the scheme has also boosted food security in our district,” she said.
Bubi-Lupane Irrigation Scheme
The Bubi-Lupane Irrigation Scheme, which is situated in Mpofu Village under Chief Mabhikwa, has been turned into a green belt. It is one of the flagship Government projects that symbolises hope for about 100 families.
Through Government support, the irrigation scheme helped transform subsistence agriculture at the household level into commercial agriculture as part of rural development and industrialisation in line with Vision 2030, which is anchored on driving the country’s economy into an upper middle-income one.
The area falls under savanna climate largely characterised by woodlands and grasslands. Over the years, the local community has been largely practising subsistence farming and relying on seasonal rainfall for watering crops.
Ms Sithole said the Bubi-Lupane Dam has alleviated water challenges in Kusile district.
Lupane Local Board chairperson Councillor Monica Ngwenya said various projects being spearheaded by the Second Republic under President Mnangagwa’s administration have accelerated the growth of Lupane.
She said they have lined up a number of projects and are also in the process of courting for more investors in line with the town’s expansion drive.
“We are implementing a number of projects in Lupane in line with our development agenda. We constructed new toilets at the bus terminus using devolution funds because the existing ablution facilities were no longer adequate for the growing number of travellers,” said Cllr Ngwenya.
“Lupane is gradually growing and demand for both residential and commercial stands is growing hence we will soon be releasing 744 residential stands and 100 commercial ones, and work has also started for the a truck port behind the bus terminus.”
Acting town engineer Mthabisi Ncube said they are implementing the US$1,6 million sewer reticulation and road construction at Hlalani Kuhle.
“Ever since Government chipped in with funds, there has been significant progress and the contractor has managed to haul about 300 loads of gravel for the ring road. As for sewer reticulation, it is now fully functional and it is now a proper urban set-up with water, a functional sewer system, and roads,” he said.
“Initially, the project was projected to be finished in April, but the contractor has requested an extension to 30 October 2023. The contractor is on the ground and in the next few weeks, they will be tarring the road.”
Matabeleland North has reaped the best benefits in terms of development projects in the last five years courtesy of President Mnangagwa who has vowed to uplift people’s livelihoods in the province that has previously been regarded as marginalised.
Since coming into power in 2017, President Mnangagwa has pushed Government to spearhead equitable and inclusive development across the country as he seeks to ensure ‘no one and no place is left behind’