by | Apr 16, 2021 | Local News, Opinions, Politics | 0 comments

By Nevanji Munyaradzi Chiondegwa

April 15, 2021, three days before Independence Day celebrations in Zimbabwe President Emerson Dambudzo Mnangagwa was hard at work. He was launching the Emergency Road Rehabilitation Programme in Mashonaland Central.

The Emergency Road Rehabilitation Program phase 2 (ERRP2) aims to see accelerated rehabilitation and construction of roads and bridges damaged by the heavy rains. In recent memory, the rains this year, were probably the heaviest in a long time and equally distributed countrywide.

They came as a blessing for our Conservation (Pfumvudza) Agricultural Programme but as a poisoned chalice for our road infrastructure programme. Instead of mourning the damage to our roads, President Mnangagwa pushed for an initiative to fix the damage and restore accessibility to isolated areas.

The choice of the launch of the ERRP2 was none other than at Ruya river’s Karanda Bridge. One of the many bridges repaired by District Development Fund following rainfall damage before it’s completion.
The bridge is a blessing in more ways than one and those who have tried to journey to Karanda Mission Hospital testify to the development as worth celebrating.

Karanda Mission Hospital sits in an area bordered by Kaparadza and Dzveya villages in Chironga area of Mt Darwin South across from Chesa Purchase Area Farms. Its separated from Chesa by the iconic Ruya River, which is a mere 50 metres from the hospital. Ruya river at its widest point is over 180 metres and during the rainy season its always flooded and this cuts off access to Rushinga and Mount Darwin using the Kangaire Turnoff in Mutsvaire area.
This effectively cuts off a population of over one hundred thousand people from the only referral hospital in the District.
The only alternative would be to add about 60km to their journey through the risky Mudzengerere Road for the closest, and more than 100km for those further afield such as Pfura and Rushinga area. Karanda to Kangaire is only seven kilometres.

Perhaps, it is instructive to note that Karanda Mission Hospital has become a hospital of choice in the sub-region due to its excellent and affordable services. People from as far afield as Zambia and Mozambique trek to the hospital seeking treatment. No point in belabouring the point that most people in Zimbabwe have had a relative treated there at one point or another.

So the bridge that President Mnangagwa launched yesterday is not beneficial to a few people nor is it a wasted effort but it is a bridge though small in size but is of national importance and magnitude. It ensures medical tourism from Zambia and Mozambique continues, the journey to Karanda becomes cost effective, communities are not cut off from each other and the local population always has access to medical services offered by one of the best hospitals in the sub-region.

President Mnangagwa recognises the need for urgent action on the issue of roads and knows they are in a state of emergency. He used micro-blogging platform Twitter to air his feelings to the nation. He said; “Zimbabweans, our roads are in a state of emergency. It pains me to see so many potholes on our once great highways. We must act urgently. Today my government committed ZWL$33.6 billion to rapidly rehabilitate 10,000kilometres of Zimbabwe’s roads. I will not let you down”

The nation has been inundated by uninformed noise on social media, with various opinions on the President opening Karanda Bridge.
Funny, how the real reason for the President journeying to Mashonaland Central with such a high-powered delegation that included the Vice-President and Minister of Health and Child Welfare, Rtd. General Constantino. GDN. Chiwenga, Minister of Defence and war Veterans Welfare Cde Oppah CZM. Kashiri among others was misunderstood.
Was the delegation necessary? An unequivocal YES from me! This was a programme of national importance!

If someone was going to talk about ZWL$33,6 billion to rehabilitate roads and came alone, I can assure you, nobody in this tea-pot shaped country was going to believe him. If he had sent anyone else to do it, like a Member of Parliament or even a Minister, still no one was going to take that messenger seriously.
10 000kilometres of road rehabilitation and construction did not need a messenger but needed the Head of State and Government.

But of course, to our usual on-line experts in everything except what could actually turn around their personal fortunes, it was an unnecessary journey. They said the same about the launching of Chombwe Water Scheme in Chivi, the launch of the second phase of Covid-19 Vaccination Program in Victoria Falls. Little did they know that, over 30,000 people will benefit from Chombwe and tourism will start in earnest once the population of Victoria Falls is inoculated the immense benefit of the Economy at large.

They are so near-sighted and politically muddled and of course will divert our attention by talking of the bridge or its shape and all but forget the important role it will play and it’s immense benefit to the wider economy.
They will talk about resources, yet they contribute nothing, while forgetting the economic benefits that will accrue to the country from a good road network and a healthy, well-fed nation.

People must realise the immense gratitude of the local population for the bridge. As former ZANU PF National Youth League Political Commissar, the political capital to be harvested from the bridge is far much bigger and wider than the bridge. This is the area where Cdes Mujambajecha, Kid Rong Rong and James Bond, war commanders of repute of our Second Chimurenga operated.
From Karanda Hospital, the home of national hero, Mernard ‘Negidi’ Muzariri is 4 kilometres as the crow flies. It was on the treacherous Mudzengerere Road that we lost the trainer of trainers, national hero Cde George Rutanhire. There are those that argue, had the Kangaire road been passable, the commander would have reached Karanda in time and perhaps be alive today. Nyamahobogo where there was a protective keep and a Rhodesian military camp during the war is 9 kilometres from Karanda.
There is a school, five kilometres from Karanda named Nyakasikana, named after the iconic First Chimurenga war heroine Nehanda Nyakasikana.

So, oh yes, it was not by accident that the President went there with a high-powered delegation to commit ZWL$33.6 billion to the ERRP2 program and to open the Karanda Bridge, three days before the country celebrates its freedom from colonial rule. And that Karanda Hospital served as a recruiting point for many a freedom fighter and catered for many of those wounded in the many battles fought between our gallant war veterans and the racist Rhodesian settler army makes it more befitting for His Excellency to go there and launch the national program from there.

So a big thank you Cde to President for the ERRP2 program and the bridge across the Ruya river. Please ignore the noise!