EDUCATIONIST Ambassador Aaron Maboyi-Ncube has said idle buildings in Matabeleland South province could be turned into institutions of higher learning for the benefit of local students.
By REX MAPHISA
Maboyi-Ncube identified several buildings he said if converted would benefit thousands of youths who travel to institutions of higher education in other provinces for tertiary education.
“Throughout the province, we have structures which tertiary institutions could open as branches or faculties. Universities could create their extensions using these facilities to bring education to communities.
“We have places like Beitbridge, West Nicholson, Maphisa and even Plumtree in Matabeleland South, where idle and disused infrastructure can house university branches for the benefit our communities,” he said.
“In Beitbridge, we have two disused hotels in the form of former Rainbow and Express hotels which are ideal for that and institutions of higher learning must pounce on any such opportunity,” he said.
The Rainbow and Express hotels of Beitbridge closed shop within months of each other in 2016, citing low business.
Despite millions of dollars used to build the hotels, the giant structures have become white elephants.
The 140-room former Rainbow Hotel is one of the National Social Security Authority (NSSA) projects which cost $55 million to construct. At the time of closure, it was yet to recoup a small fraction of that amount.
Some of NSSA’s underutilised structures are found in Bulawayo, Gwanda and Chipinge.
Express Hotel was built by Zimbabwe Sun Hotels and the two hotels share more than 300 rooms with a capacity to accommodate over 1 000 students.
Some rooms at these hotels could then be converted into lecture theatres and the abundant space within the growing town of Beitbridge can accommodate laboratories and other educational structures.
A survey by the Southern Eye showed that there is capacity for a university branch at West Nicholson at the former beef canning factories.
Plumtree could house a university branch at the International Centre for Migration site, while a youth training centre at Gutu is also ideal.
Matabeleland South, with a population of 683 893 spread over 54 172km², only has two institutes of higher learning in its capital Gwanda.
Gwanda legislator Albert Nguluvhe said the opening of university branches in Beitbridge would fit well in his envisaged plan of development.
“We have plenty of livestock, so agro-related faculties could come to Beitbridge and share our vision of growth,” Nguluvhe said.
“As part of our development plans, we hope to have laboratories to research on livestock, experiment on cross-breeds to better our livestock quality,” he said.
A farmer himself who switched from being a top security man to a politician, Nguluvhe said his term will be used to upgrade livestock rearing and assisting the migration of small-scale to commercial livestock farmers.
“It is such institutions that can trigger such development and we must ask them to come to us,” he said.