PRESIDENT Robert Mugabe yesterday caused a stir after dismissing prevailing sentiments that the Matabeleland region was economically marginalised.
Report by Nduduzo Tshuma Staff Reporter
He said all the country’s 10 provinces faced similar developmental challenges.
Speaking at the launch of the $10 million Hwange district community share ownership trust scheme at Hwange Colliery Stadium, Mugabe said claims that Matabeleland was being “deliberately economically marginalised” were false.
“There are people who are crying that in Matabeleland there is no development compared to Mashonaland, but the provinces are all facing similar challenges. They all have bad roads, they all need hospitals and clinics,” Mugabe said.
He said places that were underdeveloped were those outlying areas such as Binga, Dande, Chipinge and Beitbridge, which had no infrastructure like railway lines.
“The border towns are lagging behind in terms of development, but that does not mean the provinces in the eastern parts are more developed. In fact, you have attractive features like the Hwange Power Station and in Mashonaland West most of our electricity is generated from here. You also have the Victoria Falls,” he said.
“Those of you at the age of 40 and more should remember how Binga was after independence, with just a few schools, but we have put secondary schools and we have benefited many from the Presidential Scholarship Fund so that they have graduates to call their own. Provinces are almost the same, but perhaps some are more developed than others. But that is inevitable.”
Mugabe said the Matabeleland region, Hwange in particular, had fallen for the MDC-T’s regime change agenda, but the party had done nothing for them.
“Some people have come to you and said Zanu PF is not good and has stayed too long in power and that you need to change. We want progress and development, yet some want pleasure. They want to marry this woman today and that one tomorrow (in apparent reference to MDC-T leader Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai’s marriage saga). That is the change they want. Next year, there will be elections and if you want to repeat what you did, it is up to you to decide,” he said.
Mugabe also claimed that construction at the Lupane State University site was being hampered by Finance minister Tendai Biti, whom he said had not yet released about $1,5 million owed to the contractor.
Mugabe also threatened to seize three foreign-owned banks —Barclays, Stanbic and Standard Chartered — for reportedly declining to fund the agricultural sector this season.
“Zimbabwe is a sovereign country and will not allow foreign banks to dictate things in our country and tough luck to those who have been opposing bank seizures because there is no stopping now,” Mugabe said.