The ruling Zanu PF government has admitted its failure to develop the country, with Vice President Phelekezela Mphoko (pictured) describing some parts of the country as “downward” notwithstanding the fact that the much hyped about independence was attained some 35 years ago.
Zimbabwe gained its independence from the British in 1980, and then it was described as the “jewel of Africa” however, 35 years down the line, the country’s infrastructure is collapsing and many especially in rural areas are still walking long distances to school.
While some parts of the country have witnessed some modicum of development—probably because of the leadership who hail from such areas and mineral wealth—others such as Binga in Matabelaland have remained largely marginalised.
But in an interview with the State media, Mphoko rejected claims that Matabelaland is more marginalised than Mashonaland provinces, and rather maladroitly admitted that some parts of the country such as Mutoko have no development at all.
And while the majority of Zimbabweans, including children who walk daily to faraway schools have now accepted the status quo, Mphoko told the State-controlled media that he only discovered how backward some areas where when he was dispatched by President Robert Mugabe to tour the country.
He said contrary to popular belief that Matabeleland was under-developed, many parts of Mashonaland and Manicaland were yet to be improved too.
“I started with Manicaland, went to Matabeleland North, Mashonaland Central and then Matabeleland South. The last one was Mashonaland East where I went to Mutoko. There is no development there. Nothing! Zero!
“If anybody thinks Mashonaland is more developed than Matabeleland, that person is making a big mistake. Those are falsehoods. It is not true. It is all in our minds,” he said.
Mphoko said the marginalisation that is in Matabelaland is the same as in Mashonaland.
“We went to Manicaland and there are quite a number of places that were destroyed during the war, which have not been repaired up to now…KwaMurambinda…Murambinda is downward,” he said.
But one only has to travel to Binga District in Matabeleland North Province to understand why people there, who are mainly Tonga, have been rejecting Zanu PF since independence while keeping loyalty to opposing parties.
Roads are out of shape, health centres are kilometres away and mud structures make for classrooms, in the few areas where schools are available.
Binga was a PF Zapu stronghold since independence in 1980. Zanu PF only managed to run Binga after swallowing PF Zapu under a “unity” agreement in 1987.
From 2000, following the formation of the MDC, people have reverted to their anti-Zanu PF stance.
This place is one of the poorest and under developed districts in the country and currently is facing serious hunger because of drought. Government help on food is far from reaching this place.
Most areas in Binga have no schools, clinics, dams, roads and bridges.
Some children travel up to 10km on foot to reach the nearest school. The few available schools are dilapidated.