Mutare(New Ziana-Pungwe News)-President Emmerson Mnangagwa launched Mutare’s urban renewal project on Wednesday that will see the transformation of the eastern border city’s oldest suburb, Sakubva into a modern, self-contained residential and business district.
Old houses and other infrastructure in the suburb will demolished and replaced by state of the art, high rise residential flats and a business park.
Sakubva is the oldest and most populous suburb, and still has some buildings which were constructed around the early 1920s by the then white colonial government.
The renewal project is being financed by Banc ABC, and will also see a state-of-the-art bus terminus, vending market, an improved stadium, shopping malls and a new suburb and shopping complex complete with hotels built around a gemmology centre in Fern Valley.
Launching the project at Sakubva stadium, President Mnangagwa said construction is set to commence immediately and promised to return to check on progress by March 2020.
He added that Mutare will take a lead in the country as a smart city.
“The initiative would see hundreds of houses being demolished to pave way for new structures. (That) was being done with the full consent of families who are currently occupying the old and dilapidated houses.
“There is nothing that is being done without agreement with the families that are there and we applaud and commend this…this is what we mean by being a middle income economy because we can’t be a middle income country with entire families living in a single room…
“I’ll return in March to check on the progress but I’ve been promised that they are beginning construction immediately and there will be houses that would be standing by then,” President Mnangagwa said.
Before addressing local residents, the President toured Sakubva where he saw the appalling living conditions of thousands.
He bemoaned the current state of the suburb as unfit for a country that had four decades of independence.
“We went around to see how people are living in Sakubva and saw first-hand how people are living particularly in Coronation which has very old houses that are in a single line…such conditions 39 years after attaining independence are not appropriate, this should stop,” the President said.
He said the smart city concept was started in Harare’s Mbare suburb but Mutare has become the first urban centre to embrace it on a bigger scale.
“What we have launched today will be in all urban centres but Mutare is number one…I would like to commend the Mayor Blessing Tandi who I urged to move fast lest they be overtaken by other cities whose mayors are here to also witness the launch of this initiative,” President Mnangagwa said.
Minister of State for Provincial Affairs, Ellen Gwaradzimba praised the local authority for the project, adding that the living conditions for thousands of families will be transformed.
“This is a dawn of a new era. Some of the houses were constructed in 1925 and people are still living in such structures. The project will improve the living standards of local communities,” said Gwaradzimba.
Pungwe News-New Ziana