UNDER-FIRE President Emmerson Mnangagwa yesterday hit back at his critics saying his government would ignore rumblings from “fugitives”.In what appeared to be a response to local and regional pressure groups demanding restoration of democracy in the country, Mnangagwa asked Zimbabweans to remain united and maintain peace and tranquillity.
BY REX MPHISA
“We must remain united and uphold love, peace, unity and tranquillity,” Mnangagwa said in Beitbridge yesterday where he commissioned a 15km stretch of the first phase of the US$700 million 900km Beitbridge-Harare Highway constructed by Bitumen World.
“We will ignore rumblings by fugitives who ran away from the country,” he said, in apparent attack on members of the G40 faction of his ruling Zanu PF forced into exile after Mnangagwa grabbed power after a military coup in November 2017.
These include former ministers Walter Mzembi, Saviour Kasukuwere and Patrick Zhuwao. The trio has reportedly teamed up with South Africa’s opposition leader Julius Malema to pile international pressure against Mnangagwa’s administration.
Construction of the road started in 2018 after government cancelled a contract awarded to Geiger International and engaged local contractors, a move government said saved $1,7 billion and created employment for locals.
“The tender had been awarded to an international company, but it failed to show us its capital or track record,” Mnangagwa said.
“We asked if it could show us just 50km of its previous work. We withdrew the tender when it failed to demonstrate.”
He said Treasury had been instructed to release more funding to ensure the road, which provides the shortest route to the north/ south corridor, is competed soon. Local engineers have been hired for the project, he said.
“We shall build our country alone, brick upon brick and stone on stone,” Mnangagwa said, adding he instructed Treasury to release money to see the 200km stretch of the long overdue road done by the end of the year.
“Contractors should take advantage of reduced traffic to speed up. We should aim to finish the first leg to Masvingo and Harare by 2022 and the second leg by 2023 or 2024,” said Mnangagwa who flew into a hastily prepared helipad.
He said the Beitbridge Border Post currently undergoing an upgrade would complement the new upgraded highway which is the Sadc and Comesa artery for development.
The Beitbridge-Harare Highway was one of the key promises made by Zanu PF in the run-up to the 2018 elections and Mnangagwa urged the Transport and Infrastructure Development ministry to pursue other projects that will enable economic growth.
Mnangagwa also commissioned five kilometres of the completed road by Fossil Constructing Company in Chivhu before his visit to Beitbridge. Fossil is one of the five contractors who won the tender to construct the Beitbridge-Harare Highway.
Fossil will commission another 5km stretch during the week.
Fossil Contracting engineer Munyaradzi Meki said: “As a company, we are very well-resourced and we have enough capacity to do the work. We have enough expertise to execute it according to Sadc standards.”
All the five contractors have so far managed 32 kilometres.