BY REX MPHISA
PRESIDENT Emmerson Mnangagwa is expected in Beitbridge this morning, where he will launch fixed telecommunications service provider, TelOne’s US$7 million optic fibre link with South Africa.
Preparations for his visit, the second after ascending to Presidency, are on at the TelOne Exchange, where the function is expected to be held, while government departments have been holding a series of meetings to make full use of the presidential visit, normally associated with appeals for assistance likely to get the presidential nod.
Mnangagwa was last in Beitbridge — Zimbabwe’s only land port between the two countries which enjoy supreme trade and political relations — last year when he incidentally launched the expansion of the Beitbridge Border Post now underway.
The trip was coupled with his impromptu campaign leg at Dulivhadzimo ahead of last year’s disputed elections.
TelOne has already rolled out optic fibre from Mutare to Harare under Phase 1, carried out in 2010.
It also completed the Harare-Bulawayo route in May 2012 under Phase 2.
TelOne’s project is expected to increase the network’s capacity and efficiency, while consumers hope this will also translate to cheaper services, considering Zimbabwe is regarded as the most expensive in that line of service.
“He is expected to spend the day here. Beitbridge is a vital and strategic town and the President might also visit the border post and see the construction he launched last year,” a security source said.
“On his visit last year, Mnangagwa mentioned the importance of Beitbridge to Zimbabwe and the region, and his coming for the second time inside a year confirms his administration commitment to that.”
TelOne is presently the only major Zimbabwean company which has equity in the East African Cable System (EASSy), through WIOCC, a firm partly owned by a consortium of 14 African telecoms operators.
TelOne accesses EASSy and SEACOM via Mozambique (TDM) and South Africa (InfraCo).
EASSy is an undersea fibre optic cable system connecting East African countries to the rest of the world, while SEACOM is a private venture, offering wholesale
broadband services and products.
It is understood that TelOne is currently implementing projects generated from own funds as the network provider migrates to new technologies with broadband effects.
Broadband is effectively delivered through terrestrial networks the world over in the form of optical fibre, copper and microwave (wireless) over the surface of the earth.
Away from TelOne activities, Beitbridge residents expect Mnangagwa to address a nagging road access fee levied on motorists entering the country from South
Africa, which they feel should be abolished after the introduction of toll gates.
“It is stopping us from driving to South Africa, journeys we make out of need rather than luxury. When tollgates were introduced, road access fees should have been abolished. We are far away from the country’s major towns and depend on South Africa for certain essential services,” Andrea Moyo of Dulivhadzimo said.
In the sprawling district, villagers will expect a more vibrant restocking exercise after years of drought have reduced the district herd.
Most of the villagers in Beitbridge are on food relief registers due to recurrent droughts, and they hope Mnangagwa will bring lasting solutions for food security in a district with 120 000 people.
Resettled farmers want permanent solutions to the foot and mouth diseases.
Cropping enthusiasts will also be eager to know what had become of the water pipeline from Zhovhe Dam that was expected to benefit thousands of villagers downstream of Zimbabwe’s number 11 largest dam, which is only benefitting a handful of commercial farmers.