NATIONAL University of Science and Technology (Nust) vice-chancellor, Mqhele Dlodlo has challenged traditional leaders in Matabeleland North province to urge their subjects to fully exploit their natural resources and stop depending on food handouts.
By Nokuthaba Dlamini
Dlodlo made the call while addressing a traditional leaders’ workshop in Victoria Falls early this week.
He said it was the chiefs’ duty to bring hope to impoverished community members.
“You’re the most important leaders in our communities as you uphold the culture and social injustices and under the new dispensation you must play a crucial role in creating business opportunities like community projects in order to emancipate [subjects] and grow the economy. You’re handlers of our vast natural resources found in your areas and you must make use of those resources dominant to better your people’s lives,” he said.
He said most villagers had given lost hope for the future due to the generational poverty, hence they needed guidance to realise their purpose in life.
“In Nkayi and Lupane there are wild berries called ububese and we buy that fruit imported from other countries. Those are the projects you must invest in and financial assistance will be given to you.”
Dlodlo said sharing of ideas and constant education would go a long way in eradicating the donor-dependency syndrome among villagers.
“One of the strongest instruments of colonization is colonizing the mind. This is where you develop what we call a dependency syndrome and if you have that syndrome, anything you think of, moving forward in your life, you depend on someone else to come to your rescue and yet there is one problem with that. Anyone who offers to help you is helping herself or himself…so we need not to be fooled”.
The chiefs admitted that several non-governmental organizations had unsuccessfully tried to carry out various community projects in the region, as the villagers were only prepared to cooperate when there are food handouts.
Some suggested that donors should stop doling out food handouts and offer developmental projects to economically empower communities.
The chiefs also complained about being sidelined on developmental funding yesterday.
Chiefs from Binga said despite being given fishing permits, the government did not provide the resources that will enable them to embark on the project.
“The government gave us fishing permits in Binga but what do we gain out of that?” chief Pashu quizzed.
“Our people are still living in poverty and it keeps worsening day by day because we have no resources. In rural areas, the colonial system is still living where a chief’s role is to try cases and uphold the community values and that’s all but since it is the new dispensation, funds must be allocated to those rural people as well.
“Government gave us permits for fishing but what help does that bring if we don’t have rigs?”
Chief Khanyisa of Ntabazinduna said the government has not emancipated the rural populace.
The Chiefs called upon Homelink Finance, to decentralise and open centres in rural communities.
Chief Mtshana of Bubi said Chiefs had no power over land issues as councillors come and peg land in their jurisdictions creating confusion.
The workshop was being held under the theme: “Chiefs economic empowerment for sustainable business development in rural communities.”