The major reason Zimbabwe is failing to live up to its promise of becoming one of Africa’s most successful economies is the glaring deficit in leadership.
Our leaders tend not to see beyond the need to hang on to power and enrich themselves at the expense of the electorate.
Nothing illustrates this home truth better than Local Government minister Ignatius Chombo’s plans, published in this newspaper, to move the seat of government from Harare to President Robert Mugabe’s home district of Zvimba.
Chombo’s pretext for this planned city, which without doubt is a shameful way of seeking Mugabe’s attention and score Brownie points while at it, is that the colonialists intended to have the capital there anyway.
The site in Mt Hampden has already been identified for the construction of a new parliament.
Chombo told NewsDay earlier this week that new government offices and a State House would be constructed in addition to hotels and residential areas.
The minister’s dream is that the new city will match the affluent Sandton, a suburb of Johannesburg in South Africa.
“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 treated water is pumped from the city,” Chombo said.
But the irony must not be missed here.
This is the same minister who has presided over the decay in Harare and the bestsolution he can offer is to build an affluent city for the same fatcats who continue to accumulate wealth at the expense of the majority poor.
Instead of coming up with plans to renew dying cities such as Bulawayo, Gweru, Kwekwe and Kadoma, Chombo can only think of bringing luxury closer to Mugabe’s doorstep.
Before waxing lyrical about his pet project in Mt Hampden, the minister must tell Zimbabweans what has happened to the Chitungwiza railway line his government promised two decades ago.
He must also tell the nation what happened to the “major facelift” he promised for Beitbridge in 2006.
Harare has been waiting for the construction of Kunzvi Dam for decades and Bulawayo has been rationing water for at least 90 hours a week because the government has not built a single water source for the growing city since independence.
More than two decades after government set in motion plans to build Lupane as a new capital for Matabeleland North, the Bubi-Lupane Dam stands as the only completed project to demonstrate that intent yet Chombo dreams of building a new capital city for the country.
Zimbabwe is simply too broke to be entertaining such grandiose plans and ministers must stop living in cloud cuckooland.