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Villagers pool resources to repair roads neglected by govt

A culvert left exposed by heavy rains along Mthombothemba Road in Hope Fountain, Umguza

FED up with government inaction, the tenacious villagers of Hope Fountain in Umguza, Matabeleland North province, have joined hands to repair their heavily damaged roads.

The roads in Hope Fountain were hit hard by the recent rains, compounding the woes of the villagers, who feel neglected by the motoring public.

Determined to bring change, the villagers have mobilised through their village committee and are pushing for the restoration of the major roads connecting Hope Fountain with Bulawayo.

These roads have suffered significant damage over the years.

Despite the District Development Fund’s (DDF) mission to provide assistance to resettlement areas, the central government has consistently failed to allocate adequate funding, leaving the area with little to no financial support in recent years.

According to Vusa Sibanda, a member of the village committee, the road works were initiated in 2022.

“Our roads are not in a good shape and very hazardous to users, therefore as a committee, together with the community, we saw a need for us to rise and answer the call,” Sibanda says.

Hope Fountain, previously owned by missionaries, was handed over to its current owners by the United Congregational Church of Southern Africa in 1980.

The area is located near How Mine.

The villagers have mobilised through their village committee and set a deadline of December 2023 to complete the project.

According to sources, on March 31, 2023, the village committee presented a budget to the community for the rehabilitation project.

“The budget, which includes other developments in the area, was well appreciated by the rest of the community. We are positive that all will be well,” says Sibanda.

According to Thokoza Mathe, a resident of Hope Fountain, the community is optimistic that their diligent work and sacrifices will yield positive results, ultimately leading to accessible roads in the area.

“We work together and are confident we will succeed,” Mathe said.

“We will hold meetings that will further enlighten all stakeholders about the benefits of the project while urging community members to participate through providing labour or any other resources needed,” Mathe added.

According to Sibanda, one of the targeted roads runs from the shopping centre through Mthombothemba Primary School to How Mine, with the aim of connecting people to schools, clinics, and facilitating the sale of farm products, thus generating income for the community.

According to the 2023 Zimbabwe Infrastructure Investment Programme report, $3 billion will be allocated to rural road infrastructure, to be implemented through DDF.

Sibanda says one of the project's shortcomings is that some community members fail to contribute on time, which affects progress.

Additionally, some community members have yet to fully understand the project, which results in low participation rates, Sibanda adds.

“Other villagers delay paying their contributions, causing delays in the development of such programmes. Some feel that the idea is too big for a small community like ours,” says Sibanda.

Fisani Nkomo, a villager with a low income, says she faces difficulties paying her contributions towards the project on time.

This challenge, in turn, makes it hard for her to meet the project demands.

However, Sibanda notes that community members have realised that working together on the project has been a valuable learning experience.

Their collective efforts and perseverance have inspired others to join in.

Moses Dube, a resident and participant in the project, says the committee has reached out to mining companies to collaborate and augment the community’s efforts.

“We wrote a letter to How Mine earlier this year. They have promised to reach out soon. We need machinery and other essential equipment for rehabilitation. Some of the funding will come from local contributions (homestead subscriptions),” Dube says.

Alexander Mhlanga, the ward 1 councillor for Umguza Rural District Council, expressed his support for and happiness with the community project.


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