A Bulawayo-based pressure group, Ibhetshu LikaZulu, has called on Finance minister Tendai Biti to stop “shedding crocodile tears” over the Matabeleland region’s underdevelopment to gain political mileage.
Biti recently admitted the region was a victim of uneven and unequal development and pledged to push for the completion of all outstanding projects in the region.
But Ibetshu LikaZulu’s spokesperson Mqondisi Moyo told NewsDay yesterday Biti’s sentiments amounted to politicking.
“Biti’s sentiments are insincere and are a means of seeking political mileage out of the region’s problems,” he said.
“His sentiments must not be taken seriously as he is the same minister who has failed to allocate significant funds for the region’s development projects since he came into office in 2009.”
Moyo said development projects in the region had never received substantial funding from the National Budget since independence in 1980.
“Last year’s National Budget presented by Biti exposed his hypocrisy,” he said.
In last year’s mid-term fiscal policy statement, Biti reported that from a total of $32,2 million earmarked for road maintenance and rehabilitation across the country, only $15 million was allocated to local authorities.
In that allocation, Beitbridge, Gwanda, Hwange, Matopo and Nkayi got $241 847 — a far cry from the $2 590 000 allocated to Bindura district alone.
Moyo said Matabeleland region was rich in natural resources but was not getting maximum benefit.
“Our region is endowed with a lot of natural resources, but it is not receiving maximum benefit from them because the National Budget allocations are skewed in favour of other regions,” he said.
“Biti should come up with a policy that would ensure that the region benefited from its natural resources.”
Moyo’s sentiments come at a time when there is a raging debate over the alleged marginalisation of Matabeleland by government.