Building nation brick by brick- Ministry of Local Government and Public Works walks the talk


  In colonial Rhodesia, the city was the colonist, the oppressor, the master, the white man’s strong forte from which he debarred the African whom he reduced to a wayfarer, who could only stay at the settler’s largesse as a trader of sweat, blood and toil.

The black man’s abode was an infertile and measly space somewhere in the Tribal Trust Lands of lack where neither school, hospital, rains, clinic nor life could be found without having to eke it out.

      Without a voice in the running of his affairs, either by himself or through representation, the African’s idea of councils, and how they should be run was a reflection on the white man’s face, as he routinely handed him the pass that spelt out his place in a colonial setup where even the consumption of liquor was regulated according to race. 

     The advent of Independence in 1980, therefore, gave the African more than a nation; it gave him humanity through recognition of his right to being, unrestricted by race, ethnicity and creed. 

     Since Independence in 1980, the Ministry of Local Government and Public Works has committed to the promotion of local governance tenets that recognise the rights of citizens to determine the way they are governed with the aim to change outcomes for the common good.

     In view of that goal, the ministry administers 32 Acts of Parliament; the Liquor Licensing Board (LLB) and Local Government Board; and has the public transport utility, the Zimbabwe United Passenger Company (ZUPCO), under its ambit. It also approves and issues licences and permits as provided for by Acts of Parliament, namely; Liquor Act (Chapter 14:12), Development Permits (Section 29) Regional, Town and Country Planning Act (Chapter 29:12), Sub-division Permits (Section 40) Regional, Town and Country Planning Act (Chapter 29:12), Change of Reservation Permits (Section 49) Regional, Town and Country Planning Act (Chapter 29:12), Local and Master Plans Approval (Section 16) Regional, Town and Country Planning Act (Chapter 29:12), and Sub- approval of division of State land (Section 43) Regional, Town and Country Planning Act (Chapter 29:12).

    Zimbabwe has 32 urban councils and 60 Rural District Councils (RDCs), which fall under the Ministry. 

The Ministry of Local Government and Public Works is headed by Honourable July Moyo, who is deputised by Honourable Marian Chombo, with Mr Zvinechimwe Ruvinga Churu as the Permanent Secretary. 

    Inspired by the vision to achieve devolved governance for prosperous communities by 2030, the Ministry of Local Government and Public Works’ obligation to citizens is to promote socio-economic development of rural and urban communities in a well-built devolved environment, and enhance the socio economic development of Zimbabwe.                

    Among others, the Ministry’s purposes are to; formulate, regulate and monitor policies that promote sound local governance, facilitate devolution; formulate, review and implement spatial planning and State land management policies; manage and coordinate orderly spatial development; coordinate disaster mitigation and preparedness planning to promote efficient response and resilience to disasters; and initiate, promote and implement Urban and Rural development projects and programmes. 

    The Ministry also endeavours to coordinate Central and Local government programmes as well as expansion initiatives; promote and facilitate an efficient urban public transport management system; facilitate effective operations and traditional leaders; coordinate, administer and manage all disasters; manage and account for the National Civil Protection Fund; and formulate and coordinate policies in estate management, valuation services, construction and maintenance of infrastructure. 

To achieve its mandate, the Ministry aims to formulate and monitor implementation of sound national housing amenities policies at the household, business centre and growth point levels; develop and implement strategies that ensure rural and urban development in consultation with relevant ministries and other stakeholders; manage and maintain Government Real Estate; provide office accommodation to Government; and provide professional and technical advice to smaller local authorities on building construction and engineering services.

A glimpse into the colonial planner’s office

    In the colonial planner’s mind the African was a second class citizen with neither rights, culture nor history. Therefore, the local governance structures reflected that bias as they were premised on a racially-based system of “othering”. The African as the other had to live in areas set aside for him were beerhalls outnumbered clinics and schools, and rural district councils were impoverished abodes. 

    The idea of Tribal Trusts Lands (Reserves), Native Lands, or African Councils and later District Councils was to differentiate local governance initiatives based on race with infrastructural development assuming colonial garb. 

    Urban areas were for colonists and blacks could only temporarily visit as labourers, and once sapped of energy they had to retreat to their rural homes where their families were confined. The Native Passes Act of 1937 forced Africans to possess passes bearing their names and those of their employers to be allowed to stay in urban areas. Even when hostels and townships were constructed for them, the idea was only to perpetuate colonial capital. Urban regulations were skewed in favour of whites. 

Without voting rights, Africans had no voice over the way councils were run. Traditional leaders were also imposed on them depending on how they toed the colonial line.

Mapura (2011) cited in Jonga (2014:76), sums it up when he says: “Ordinarily, the existence of Africans in urban areas was prohibited under colonial legislation unless they were providing cheap labour in mines and factories.”

Building the nation brick by brick

    The Government of Zimbabwe’s immediate task at Independence in 1980 with regarding colonial injustices that created two nations in one country since 1890—the European nation and the African nation–was to enact people-oriented legislation. 

In 1980, the Urban Councils Act of 1973 was repealed and replaced by the Urban Councils Act (Chapter 214). The Act was repealed in 1995 and 1996, and the Urban Councils Act (Chapter 29:15) was enacted, which provides for the determination and establishment of councils, qualification for election into council and its management committees. The Act also provides for the appointment of officials, duties, functions, rights and obligations of local authorities as well as financial matters. 

As Aristotle affirms “even when laws have been written down, they ought not always to remain unaltered.” 

    Therefore, alive to the philosophy that for the good of justice, laws should be constantly visited to determine if they remain in tandem with the dictates of the communities they are meant for, the Government of Zimbabwe amended the Urban Councils Act in 1997, which was substituted by the Local Government Laws of 2008. 

     By constantly keeping an eye on prevailing trends and effectively responding through requisite policy frameworks, the Ministry of Local Government and Public Works was able to provide housing, schools and health facilities to citizens of Zimbabwe for four decades now. 

    Across the country’s 10 provinces the landscape has been adorned by projects meant to enhance economic and human development. In Harare the Ministry is behind construction projects at Natpharm where a warehouse was built, Sally Mugabe Central Hospital (formerly Harare Central Hospital); Kuwadzana 7 High School; Tomlinson Flats; David Livingstone Primary School (classroom block); Chikurubi (ECD block); and Parirenyatwa Group of Hospitals (EPI dry store). 

One of the major projects that the ministry is involved in, is the construction of the New Parliament Building in Mount Hampden. 

In Masvingo the ministry constructed Gutu Rural Hospital and Gutu Magistrates’ Court. 

    Through its disaster response initiatives, the Ministry came up with the Cyclone Idai Housing Project to provide accommodation to victims of the March 2019 catastrophe in Manicaland Province. Another project in the province under the aegis of the Ministry is the Manicaland State University of Applied Sciences. 

    Other projects undertaken are Victoria Falls District Office (Matabeleland North); Kanyemba Matiga Pre-School, Chinhoyi District Office, Chinhoyi Magistrates’ Court and Chinhoyi University (Mashonaland West); rehabilitation works at Beitbridge Border Post (Matabeleland South); construction works at Mahusekwa Hospital, Kushinga Pikelela Hospital (block), Chivhu District Office and Mount Saint Mary’s Hospital (Mashonaland East); two developments at Bindura State University (Mashonaland Central); and Gokwe health posts (four), and Gweru Provincial Hospital (Midlands).

Peeping into the New Parliament Building

 If parliaments are strong they become the bedrock of democracy in global politics. Parliamentarians are the voice of their constituents, whose expectations and aspirations they carry and project in the august House, thus, they represent the people.

    Because a nation is as good as its justice system, for bad or hastily effected laws cause acrimony and hatred among citizens, thus, leading to civil strife, there is need to constantly up the bar in parliamentary debates. As one of their oversight roles, parliamentarians pass laws, and such laws are reflective of the cultural, historical, religious and political issues prevailing in any particular country.

    There is no better way of ascertaining effective representation than providing conducive space for parliamentarians to engage on behalf of their constituents. Hence, the construction of the majestic New Parliament Building in Mount Hampden, about 18km northeast of Harare, which is now complete and awaiting handover, may be the Holy Grail required for proficient representation, and opening up of economic spaces for citizens. 

    As President Mnangagwa pointed out at the ground-breaking ceremony in November 2018, the current situation where 350 legislators (including the Senate and National Assembly), and 248 secretariat staff are crammed in a space meant for 100 representatives, does not augur well with principles of parliamentarism. 

    The idea born in 1983 with the Kopje as the proposed site, has now become a reality with the imposing building sitting on a 70-metre platform above the surrounding area, symbolically projecting legislative supremacy. 

About 18 863 hectares have been set aside for the envisioned new city, three-tier site adjoining Mazowe and Zvimba Rural District councils and the City of Harare. 

The envisaged highway that will lead to the New Parliament Building already has a name. It is called Chairman Mao Boulevard, in honour of a great friend of Zimbabwe. 

The future is brighter indeed, as new transport links will include high performance trains and an upgrade of the nearby Charles Prince Airport. 

The construction of the New Parliament Building was made possible through an RMB676,43 million grant from the People’s Republic of China through China-Aid. Feasibility studies were carried out by the Beijing Institute of Architectural Design Company Limited in 2015. It was designed by China SIPPR Engineering Group, and Shanghai Construction Group, a global construction behemoth, was the contractor. 

    The Government of Zimbabwe also expended US$2,4 million towards enabling works to kick-start the construction of the project. 

    The designs for the New Parliament Building, which embody Zimbabwean culture and heritage, were completed and approved in October 2017. The project, which comprises four floors on the Parliament side and an adjacent six-storey office building, encompasses a Chamber House, containing the 350-seat National Assembly and 100-seat Senate. It also has  common areas, offices, special services, general public and Press areas, parking space and associated services.

    Onsite workforce constituted 135 Chinese experts and 350 Zimbabwean citizens. Other ministries that have come on board in support of the project are the Ministry of Transport and Infrastructural Development that worked on access roads and storm water drainage facilities, the Ministry of Energy and Power Development, and the Ministry of Lands, Agriculture, Water and Rural Resettlement. 

Inside the new Parliament Building in Mt Hampden
Inside the new Parliament Building in Mt Hampden

Looking into the future

As a way of easing the burden on commuters across the country, the Government, through the Zimbabwe United Passenger Company (ZUPCO), which is under the purview of the Ministry, launched the Mass Transport System in January 2019. In October 2019, the Government opened the ZUPCO franchise to commuter omnibus operators in a move intended to increase convenience for urban commuters. 


Devolution is another milestone achieved in the past four years as Zimbabwe looks into the future. The Second Republic has committed to the implementation of the programme through Treasury’s disbursement of $703 million allocated to 92 local authorities in the 2019 National Budget under intergovernmental transfers. Government has committed $2,9 billion to accelerate programmes implementation in 2020. 

    The funds were earmarked for capital projects that benefit citizens in the following service areas: schools and clinics, roads, plant and equipment, water, sewer and solid waste management, electricity and any other capital activities that may be deemed necessary for service provision. 

    The philosophy behind devolution is to eliminate marginalisation by decentralising power to provincial and metropolitan councils. In many areas countrywide water and sanitation issues are being addressed, schools and medical facilities are being constructed, road rehabilitation programmes are also ongoing to complement existing Government programmes. 

    Local authorities are utilising the funds to implement their projects. 

    Urban renewal is another aspect high on the agenda of the ministry’s priorities. 

    The Sakubva Urban Renewal programme, the first of its kind in Zimbabwe where Public Private Partnerships (PPPs) are effectively used for economic growth in line with national Vision 2030, is on course.  

    The venture, which has been accorded National Project status, is undertaken by the City of Mutare in collaboration with Plan Infrastructure Development and BancABC. Materials that will be used in the construction process will be allowed into the country duty-free. 

    The project is aimed at improving the livelihoods of residents of Mutare’s oldest suburb through phased destruction and eventual regeneration of residential flats, market stalls, public and social amenities. 

    The development will focus on the following areas: about 264 hectares of Sakubva will be redeveloped; Sakubva Stadium/sports complex; Sakubva Beit Hall; Sakubva Musika long distance bus terminus; Sakubva Vegetable Market; Sakubva Flea Market; and high rise flats.

    Objectives of the urban renewal project are to provide employment to over 10 000 citizens, enhanced land utilisation, improved service delivery, improvement in local economy, provision of a crime free environment and integration of residential, commercial, cultural, institutional and home industry uses

Sakubva Urban Renewal Project

New City Project

    The construction of the New Parliament Building in Mount Hampden, along Old Mazowe Road, has created an opportunity for a new city project. The area around Mount Hampden is poised for development to complement activities at the new site. 

    The area’s proximity to Harare as well as its geographical environs offer opportunities for growth, and presents Zimbabwe with a chance to define herself as a nation through a home-grown plan pregnant with vast prospects for all citizens cutting across the entire gamut of human endeavour. 

    The new city’s design is projected to make use of the mixed-use development approach, which is a type of urban development that blends residential, commercial, cultural, institutional, or industrial uses, where those functions are physically and functionally integrated. It involves the development of structures and communities that have a mixture of all or any of residential, commercial, industrial, institutional, cultural and retail uses.

    Additionally, retailers benefit from the traffic flow of customers who reside closer to their businesses, while residents enjoy the ease of proximity to numerous options.

In today’s global village, these initiatives are becoming the norm for progressive advancement as they offer ways to efficiently utilise the land, while providing high quality lifestyles for those closer to developments.

Some of the key structures to be incorporated into the design of the new city are office parks, commercial entities, a hi-tech park, information communication technology centre park, institutional facilities, agro-processing structures, hotels, conference centre, golf course, apartments, cluster houses and garden flats, low density residential houses, civic centre game sanctuary, botanical garden, waste to energy management centre, roads and green buffers. 

    The Ministry of Local Government and Public Works is seized with engaging stakeholders to ensure that an informed decision is taken as the master plan is developed.

Indeed, there is so much to celebrate as Vision 2030 beckons. 

More Projects Undertaken

Construction of Government composite offices

                                a) Hwedza Composite Offices

The construction of Hwedza Composite Offices, a Government-funded project, was started in 2004. Works were stalled due to funding challenges and resumed in 2021 with Phase One of the project being construction of Block B, a three-storey building. Phase Two will involve construction of Block A, which is identical to Block B, and is expected to commence once Block B has been completed and commissioned.

Block B is now built-up and roofed with outstanding works being electrical, plumbing, floor tiling and painting. The target for the first cycle of the 2022 100-day programme is to move from 68 percent to 8 percent completion. This involves dry wall partitioning, aluminum windows fitting, doors, glazing and installation of suspended ceiling. 

Hwedza is one of the districts without Composite Offices, and the staff members are operating in sub-standard offices. The Composite Office is being constructed to alleviate the critical shortage of office accommodation in the district. Once the offices are complete, they will benefit Government ministries/departments in the district.

     b) Siakobvu Composite Offices

Siakobvu Government Complex

The construction of Siakobvu Composite Offices, a Government-funded project commenced in 2005 and was stalled in 2007. The project entails construction of three blocks (A, B and  C). Works on Block A resumed on July 6,  2021, and the expected date of completion is still to be advised. Blocks B and C are yet to be pegged. Since the resumption of works, Block A is now at 38 percent complete. The target for the current 100-day cycle is to move from 38 percent to 60 percent. This involves completion of first floor deck, brick work and roofing.

The Composite Offices are expected to house Government departments at the business centre, which has a population of over 30 000 people. More importantly, it is expected to shorten the distance that members of the community (Kariba) travel to seek essential services such as birth and death certificates and national identity cards.

Construction of Siakobvu Composite Offices is a good example of Government’s commitment to ensure that no one and no place are left behind in the Development Agenda of the National Development Strategy 1, as we move to realising Vision 2030.

Spatial planning programme 

                                a) Kanyemba Composite Layout Plan:The preparation of a detailed Kanyemba Composite Layout Plan started in January 2021 backed by the large-scale mapping produced by Zimbabwe National Geospatial and Space Agency (ZINGSA). The Layout Plan enable investors to prepare their project proposals and apply for specific stands and sites. 

    b)  Principles for review of the Regional Town and Country Planning Act: The principles have already been presented to Cabinet, and now await onward processing through the Cabinet Committee on Legislation (CCL). 

Maintenance of public buildings 

Government buildings, like any other building, need to be maintained frequently, to preserve the original state and value.

                a) Maintenance of District Development Coordinator’s (DDC) Complex in Mutare

The Complex is one of the structures which was constructed before independence, and because of its age, major refurbishment is now required.  The refurbishment project started around mid-February 2022, and is expected to be completed in four months’ time. However, the late release of funding is negatively affecting progress on site. 

The scope of the works include removal of diamond mesh wire security fence and replacing it with a combination of brick boundary wall and steel palisade fencing, removal of timber on suspended floors and fill up the void with concrete and then put tiles, removal and replacement of ceilings, repainting, removal and replacement of plumbing fittings and refurbishment of electrical works. The target for the first cycle of the 2022, 100-day programme is to move from 35 percent to 85 percent.

b)  Maintenance of Gweru Composite Offices

Gweru Composite Offices, also known as Government Complex was in dire need of major refurbishment. The scope of maintenance works includes, painting, carpentry, tiling, electrical, mechanical and installation of a biometric access control system in the minister’s offices.

The maintenance works were started on June 15,  2021, and the expected date of completion was May 15, 2022. The target for the first cycle of the 2022, 100-day programme is to move from 34 percent  to 100 percent.   

c)  Maintenance of Market Square Registration offices

Major maintenance works are being carried out on these offices, which were in a deplorable state and in need of major repairs and maintenance. The scope of works for the current 100-day cycle include, Builders works, Carpentry works, Electrical works, and Internal and external painting.  

Construction of disaster recovery houses

                a) Chimanimani Disaster Recovery Housing: The construction of 10 core houses with ablution facility on each house started in June 2021, being done in phases. The houses are located in Runyararo (Westend) Farm, Chimanimani District. When completed, the houses will benefit 10 families which were affected by Cyclone Idai. The project is being funded by Government of Zimbabwe. 

    b) Tsholotsho Disaster Recovery Housing: Tsholotsho was affected by Cyclone Dineo in 2016/2017 rainfall season. People’s houses and property were destroyed. The reconstruction of disaster houses was targeting 305 houses and currently they managed to construct 280 houses. The target for the first 100-day cycle was to construct 15 houses to completion and 10 houses are almost complete and they are left with glazing and external doors and locks which are not yet delivered. The fitting of internal doors is in progress. The other five houses are at different stages of completion.

    c) Binga Disaster Recovery Housings: Binga was affected by Cyclone Dineo in 2016/2017 rainfall season. The cyclone destroyed peoples’ houses and property hence Government embarked on the construction of the affected houses.  The target for the first 100-day cycle is to construct seventeen (17) houses to completion and three (3) are now roofed while fourteen (14) are at window level. The implementation of the project was slowed down due to poor soils which necessitated special foundations.

                Devolution projects    

a)Construction of clinics

Construction of Nyamhondoro Clinic Block (Mudzi District, Mashonaland East Province)

The construction of Nyamhondoro Clinic Block in Ward 9 was started by the local community in 2013, and then taken over by Mudzi Rural District Council in 2020 using Devolution funds. The scope of works involves construction of clinic block from 65 percent  to 85 percent. 

Currently, villagers are travelling long distances to access healthcare services at other health service centres, which are Masarakufa, about 12km and Chimukoko 25km away. Therefore, the construction of Nyamhondoro Clinic will reduce the distances and challenges faced by people to access healthcare services. 

Construction of Clinic at Msasa (Sanyati District, Mashonaland West Province)

    The construction of Msasa Clinic in Ward 12 commenced on July 26,  2021. The scope of works involves the construction of two clinic blocks and a toilet from 20 percent to 100 percent. The project, once complete, is expected to benefit a population of about 3 000 community members, who are travelling long distances (10km) to access the nearest health facilities. 

Construction of Mbundire Clinic and staff Houses (Buhera District, Manicaland Province)

    The project commenced in 2011 as a community initiative. Buhera Rural District Council (RDC) took over in 2019 making use of Devolution funds after it had stalled due to funding challenges. The scope of works for the current 100-day cycle involves the construction of the main clinic blocks and staff houses from 70 percent to 100 percent 

Ward 1 is one of the wards which had no rural health centre. 

       The community members are travelling long distances to access the nearest healthcare facilities (Chapwanya Clinic and Gandachibvuva Clinic in Chikomba District). Once complete, the clinic will assist Ward 1 community members to access healthcare services nearby.

 Renovation of Bopoma Clinic (Rushinga District, Mashonaland Central Province)

       Bopoma Clinic is located in Ward 4 where there is no Government health centre close by. Renovation of the clinic is being undertaken at premises formerly used as offices by World Vision which were handed over to council after the NGO officially left the area. The council decided to modify the offices to meet the required standards of a clinic.

    The project was initiated by the community members in 2021 where they mobilised financial resources to the tune of US$3 500, which they handed over to Rushinga Rural District Council in a bid to assist in the renovations. 

    The clinic is closer to Marymount Mission Hospital, administered by the Roman Catholic Church, which is two kilometres away, but is beyond the reach of the surrounding community. Once complete, the clinic will benefit villagers from Wards 3, 19 and 21, which are closer. 

Rehabilitation of Kuwadzana Polyclinic (Kuwadzana District, Harare Metropolitan Province

    The clinic has a catchment population of 208 107 with an average of 250 institutional deliveries per month. It is supported by a satellite clinic in Kuwadzana Extension. The clinic provides, primary healthcare services, maternal health services and family health services.

    The scope of works involves rehabilitation of the polyclinic’s roof, ceiling, electrical works and repainting of the maternity wing from zero percent to 100 percent.

Once complete, the project will address roof leakages, poor lighting and also improve the general outlook of the maternity wing in the process providing a secure environment for both mothers and infants.

Construction of schools

   The demand for learning places at both the primary and secondary schools is increasing annually with existing structures failing to cope, leaving some learners stranded and this has resulted in calls for more schools getting louder. The introduction of the Early Child Development Policy in 2004 compounded the situation as most Government, Local Authorities and Mission Schools cannot cope with the ever-increasing numbers. 

    Although statistics from Zimstats, 2014, indicated that, the number of Primary Schools more than doubled from just 2 401 in 1979 to 5 863 in 2014, while secondary schools increased from 177 to 2 424 during the same period, the situation has remained dire. In most rural parts of the country, children travel long distances to access the nearest school with an average walking distance of 5km, a situation which has proved to be unsustainable, hence the need for more schools to be constructed. 

    The shortage of staff accommodation has resulted in most schools failing to attract qualified teachers, especially in most rural parts of the country.

Some learners are now being accommodated in makeshift structures, while others are being forced to enroll at sub-standard private institutions, which do not have required facilities like sports fields. 

    Furthermore, some of the schools have now resorted to hot-sitting to address the challenge. This has resulted in a bloated teacher-learner ratio as some schools now have an average of 60 learners, instead of the recommended 45.

Under Devolution, focus is now on the construction of new schools, additional classroom blocks, rehabilitation of existing structures and staff accommodation. However, under the current 100-day cycle, focus is on the following schools;

                i. Mfula Secondary School; 

                ii. Masenya Primary School;

                iii. Rengwe Primary School;

                iv. Bekezela Primary School, and 

                v. Sizemba Secondary School.

 Emergency Road Rehabilitation Programme (ERRP II)

    The Programme is being championed by the Government, following a public outcry on the state of roads that were heavily damaged during the previous rainy season in most parts of the country. This led the Government to declare all roads to be a State of National Disaster and launched the second ERRP II.

    The main focus of the Programme is to ensure that the transport sector plays a vital role as an enabler for overall economic growth of the country across the manufacturing, agriculture, mining, electricity and tourism sectors. A good road network is vital for the country to realize Vision 2030. 

Under the current cycle, the following projects will be implemented;

                i. Matedzi- Mukazi Road gravelling;

                ii. Steingot regravelling of road (21 km);

                iii. Lupila- Nanda Road: grading and gravelling;

                iv. Kwesengulube road gravelling (15 km), and 

                v. Findo Road: clearing, grading and spot gravelling.

 Water and sanitation projects

    In Zimbabwe, access to basic water is a critical ingredient for national, social and economic development. This basic water supply is defined by the minimum standards for drinking water as provided for by SDG 6, which refers to universal and equitable access to safe and affordable drinking water for all. In the context of Zimbabwe, the aim is to ensure that collection time is not more than 30 minutes for the roundtrip i.e., to and from water point (ZIMSTAT, 2019). 

    These improved drinking water sources have the potential to deliver safe water defined by the nature of their design and construction. Statistics on access to basic water shows that about 60 percent of the population accesses basic drinking water with the highest coverage being in Bulawayo at 98 percent, followed by Harare at 88 percent and lowest in Matabeleland North and South at 51 percent (ZIMSTAT, 2019).

    Basic sanitation services as defined by SDG 6.2, focuses on access to adequate an equitable sanitation and hygiene for all and ending open defecation with a particular focus on the needs of women, girls and those in vulnerable situations. In Zimbabwe, access to sanitation lags behind water provision in the country. About 37 percent of the population has access to basic sanitation facilities (UNICEF, 2019). In urban areas sanitation access is 43 percent, while in rural areas it is 34 percent. In terms of Provincial access figures, Bulawayo has the highest access to sanitation at 56 percent, followed by Matabeleland South at 42 percent, Mashonaland East at 41 perfcent, Midlands and Harare at 40 percent, with the lowest being Matabeleland North at 24 percent (UNICEF, 2019; ZIMSTAT, 2019).

    The following are some of the projects that are being implemented to address the water and sanitation challenges under Devolution;

                i. Nyamapanda public toilets renovations;

                ii. Makaha SMES public toilets and water reticulation;

                iii. Market Public Toilet-Rimbi;

                iv. Mushumbi Rank water system toilet construction, and

                v. Rushinga market borehole water reticulation.

Binga development initiatives

    Following a spate of visits and consultations with the relevant authorities, including the District Development Coordinator and the Council chief executive officer, just to mention a few, the Ministry seeks to give an update on the development needs of the Binga community.

    The Ministry was  also briefed on the following developmental projects for the area.

Construction of SME shelters

    There is a need to construct SME shelters in some areas. However, only Siyachilaba, Manjolo, Kariyangwe, Lisulu, and Mlibizi have these shelters.

Bulawayo Kraal

    A team of representatives from Bulawayo Kraal visited Lupane ARDA-managed irrigation project on a look and learn tour to appreciate the farming model to better their understanding on irrigation projects. 

Binga Town Board

A team from the Ministry of Local Government and Public Works visited Binga for the assessment. With this, plans are underway to have a successful Binga Town Board elevation. 

 Devolution projects

    a) Health 

 Malaria clinic (Pashu), Sinamunsanga Clinic (Lunga Ward), Zambezi (Sianzyundu Ward), Chipale Clinic (Sinamagonde Ward).

b) Education 

 Chibondo classroom block and teachers houses (Manjolo Ward), roofing classroom block at Bulawayo Kraal Primary School, Mulindi Primary School, Muchesu Primary School.

c) Water and sewer reticulation

  For Binga centre (town) high and medium densities.

d) Roads

  Chininga –Nsungwale Road construction and gravelling.

 Lusulu centre Road.

  Binga town, low density.

e) Assets procurement

 Purchase of 16 tonne tipper truck.


  Potholes patching for the Kamativi-Binga Road

 Lusulu-Nakabula Road

 Maintenance of the Binga-Siabuwa Road

  Maintenance and tarring of Rwizi Lukulu Bridge.


Muchesu coal mining: The mine has already started extraction of the mineral in Binga.

Flood victims’ houses

  Public works department is constructing 17 flood victims houses, while the remainder will be done by the Ministry of National Housing and Social Amenities, who are to find a contractor.

    The above presented are the Ministry’s submissions regarding the updates from various ministries and agencies, which when fully implemented, will transform the lives of communities in Binga, and the Government of Zimbabwe will wholesomely achieve Vision 2030 as enshrined in President Mnangagwa’s  mantra of leaving no-one and no place

Interaction with the San community

    Following a spate of filtering news propelled from different angles and directions by researchers, community-based organisations, pressure groups, non-governmental organisations (NGOs), civic society organisations (CSOs) and the media, hammering and blaming the Government for inadequately supporting the San minority group, a team of Government officials was dispatched for the interaction meeting with the San community. 

    Local Government and Public Works Minister July Moyo, accompanied by the Minister of State for Matebeleland-North Province Richard  Moyo, then Primary and Secondary Education Minister Cain Mathema, local Member of the National Assembly Zenzo Sibanda, Provincial Development Coordinator for Matabeleland North Sithandiwe Ncube, Chief Gampu and the acting District Development Coordinator Aaron Gono, embarked on a fact-finding mission where they met the Tjwao community at Mtshina Secondary School in Tsholotsho.

    The San or Tjwao people are one of the indigenous small minority communities in Zimbabwe. Commentators have observed that they belong to the poorest and the most excluded social sector in Zimbabwe. It has also been observed that they face acute discrimination in terms of their basic rights to their ancestral property, language, cultures and forms of governance (leadership), but also in terms of access to basic social services (education, health and nutrition, water and sanitation, housing, and so-on ) and the essential material conditions for a satisfying life. 

    These conditions of extreme poverty and material deprivation for the San communities are reported to be widespread throughout Southern Africa, in general, and particularly in Zimbabwe. 

   Historical records show that the San were the earliest hunter-gatherers in Southern Africa. They populated Southern Africa long before the arrival of the Bantu-speaking nations, and thousands of years before the arrival of Europeans. Zimbabwe has scattered groups of the San people who speak the Tjwao language. They are found mainly in the Matabeleland region of Plumtree and Tsholotsho areas. 

    It is because of their presence in Zimbabwe that the new people driven 2013 Constitution, in Section 6, has included the Khoi-San (Tjwao) language among Zimbabwe’s 16 official languages.

    Identified challenges on views from the community

    The San have remained unintegrated and continue to live lives of poverty in the periphery of society where they lack proper representation. Currently, there is no San local Councillor, headman or chief. This has triggered complaints that, without proper traditional leadership representation at headman or chief level, most of the conflicts involving the San people are administered by Ndebele or Kalanga leaders, thereby depriving them of justice delivery.


    Many from the Tjwao communities lack education, knowledge and sustainable development skills, resulting from poor access to education and learning systems and facilities. As a result, a few of the San children graduate from primary school, and this is passed from generation to generation. Thus, creating a community of uneducated and unskilled people. They have no representation in both the School Development Committees (SDC) and the BEAM initiative by the Government.

    Although one or two of their children have attempted secondary schooling in the past, these often drop out due to intimidation, lack of means to pay school levies, uniforms and starvation. School attendance is hardly sustained throughout the course of the full school terms or school year period due to hunger as they have large families and cannot afford to support their children with their education.

 Lack of food security

   It was indicated to us that, most of the San people are still not practicing agricultural activities such as crop production or animal husbandry because for so long, they rely on hunting and gathering. However, a few who are now integrated into the mainstream community do practice farming activities rather than overreliance on Government handouts and food relief.

    On the same note, the San people claim that their food insecurity resulted from lack of draft animal power. The San claim that when the white colonial regime displaced them, they also took away their donkeys in the process in 1923. This dealt a blow to the community as they were prejudiced of their draft animal power for farming hence contributing to poor productivity and traditional transportation. They therefore requested compensation for this loss.

 Sources of income

    The sources of income for the San community is so shrunk that the majority of them live under abject poverty. Some survive through manual peace jobs such as cattle herding, provision of casual labour at schools and other small manual jobs within the community.

 Health facilities

    The San people usually do not use health facilities, and this has been mainly attributed to the cultural way of life. However, other challenges given for not using health facilities included distance, cost and preference for traditional medicine. Occasional discrimination by health practitioners was also reported.

 Language endangerment

    There is potential extinction of the San language (Tjwao) as they continue to integrate with other dominant languages. This is more particularly because there is no learning of the Tjwao language in school that is at ECD and primary levels.

During the meeting, a fluent Tjwao speaker indicated that, there are some educated San people proposing to write in the language and the Minister of Primary and Secondary Education welcomed their offer.

 Traditional leadership

   It was said that Mtshina of the Maphosa totem was once a Chief in the area and at present, there is no Headman or Chief among the San communities. All the five village heads are under a Ndebele leader, Chief Gampu.

 Birth registration

    A large number of the San people do not have identification particulars or documents. It was reported that some of them are even elderly people who claim that they have tried several times to get these documents but with no success.

    They claim that in most cases, they are turned down by the strict requirements from the registry office. The other factor is that the registry office is inaccessible to them as they would need to travel to the registry’s district office and this requires money for bus fares and sometimes they are required to bring witnesses, which would increase the burden on bus fares. This adds to their problem, as in most cases they are not served in a day while sometimes they are turned back without the documents. Some young people are also affected by this situation.

 Teenage pregnancy

    There are a lot of teenage pregnancies which are affecting young girls of school going age.

 Human wildlife conflict

    The community is near Hwange National Park and usually they face challenges of elephants, buffalos, hyenas and in some cases lions. These destroy their few crops that they would have grown as well as their livestock. These wild animals are also life threatening to the people. They requested that something should be done to address such a challenge.


    As mentioned earlier, San livelihood support was heavily dependent on hunting. They are thus requesting to be granted some hunting rights from the Government of Zimbabwe.

Ceremonies on heritage sites

    The San people have their heritage sites in the Hwange National Park. In this regard, they requested the Government to allow them access to such sites in order for them to perform their rituals and ceremonies. They also requested for wild animals to augment performance of such ceremonies as dictated by their cultural values on such events.

Legal Instruments

As the situation of the San and their rights are being analysed, it is important to do it in the context of Zimbabwe’s international instruments as well as our own legal framework. In this regard, the following are relevant:-

 The Government of Zimbabwe has made undertakings to ensure that the right to equality and non-discrimination is realized. Section 56 of the Constitution clearly dictates that, “…every person has the right not to be treated in an unfairly discriminatory manner on such grounds as their …tribe, ethnic or social origin…” 

  Article 1 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights recognises the equal and inalienable rights of all people.

 Article 2 dictates that, everyone is entitled to all rights and freedoms.

  Article 3 also states that, everyone is entitled to all rights and freedoms without discrimination.

  Article 2 and 19 of the African Charter on Human and people’s rights, considers equality as one of the essential objectives for the legitimate aspirations of African people. 


    It is important that measures be put in place to improve the status and quality of life of the San people and the following is recommended.

 Building more schools within the San community and launching a programme of advocacy to encourage school attendance,

  Promotion of the San language (Tjwao) through writing and translation of books and other materials; this should be done in the local language for their benefit, and ownership,

  Continuous visibility by office bearers to the San community for quick service delivery, confidence and trust building,

  Promotion of empowerment programmes and development initiatives, which are meant to uplift the living standards of the San people,

 Ploughing back proceeds through CAMPFIRE, so that they realise the benefits of the resources around them,

 The Government and local authorities should ensure that San communities and representatives should be involved in discussing and designing Government initiated projects and interventions that will affect them,

 Appointment of a headman and a chief from among the San people,

 Hunting of wild animals should be allowed periodically, by way of a controlled hunting, once in a while for the purposes of food and reduction of ballooning animal population especially elephants. This would be done in the context of the CAMPFIRE programme,

 The San people should be allowed access to their heritage cites and that during such ceremonies, they would be allowed to kill animals in line with the dictates of their culture for food and rituals as the first inhabitants of the land,

 Issues of donkey losses and compensation would be discussed at some level. In the process, the Government support for agriculture should be intensified in order to guarantee food security,

  A recommendation for the transfer of food from areas of surplus to those in deficit such as the San community should be done to alleviate drought challenges,

 There is need for more health facilities in the area coupled with periodic outreach programs to educate the community on modern medications and their benefits compared to traditional methods,

 Representation in council is a necessity. Now that there is a provision for proportional representation in council, one of them should be a San, and

 There is need to check on what the John Landa Nkomo Trust had done, regarding the San people and how this can be carried forward.