Chinese to build new capital city

Chinese companies will be responsible for most of the key construction projects in Zvimba district - President Robert Mugabe’s rural home - and the new capital city.

The new city will include a university, technology centre, schools, churches, hospitals, industrial sites and parliament.
The new city will include a university, technology centre, schools, churches, hospitals, industrial sites and parliament.

Reliable sources revealed this week that the process of listing potential Chinese companies was already underway and they would be brought in as part of the deals that Mugabe made with his Chinese counterparts last year. He went to China in August and reportedly signed multi-dollar agreements with the Chinese for non-cash support in infrastructure development, agriculture and energy.

“The new capital city in Mount Hampden will be constructed under the cluster of infrastructure development section of the deal. (Local government minister Ignatius) Chombo played a vital role in ensuring that the Chinese fund the proposed new capital city,” said a Zanu (PF) MP from Mashonaland West, where Zvimba lies.

He said the Chinese constructors majoring in shopping malls, hotels, government offices, civil works and industrial parks would visit Zimbabwe, but could not say when. “Most of the labour, of course, will be provided by Chinese prisoners. The Chinese have promised to do a high quality job as a way of honouring the president,” he added.

The Chinese have already agreed to construct a new parliament in Mt Hampden. No dates have been set for the commencement of the capital city project, but initial estimates had indicated that it could kick off in two years’ time.

Could start in 2016

The sources, however, said work could commence in earnest early next year after the Chinese government committed to speed the process up. The local government ministry has said government was still looking for partners and investors. It suggested that the new city would be capitalised mainly through land sales.

Cabinet recently approved the construction of the new city, which government says is meant to decongest Harare. The city was set up in the nineteenth century by a column of British explorers.

Critics have viewed the project as Chombo’s sycophantic plot to bring glory to Mugabe’s home area. A preliminary map shows that the city will cross Nyabira, Mt Hampden and parts of Mazowe in Mashonaland Central province, while bordering with Westgate on the present outskirts of Harare.

Features of the new city include a university, technology centre, schools, churches, hospitals, industrial sites, parliament as well as a state house and official residences for the speaker and senate president. Planners have also suggested five residential suburbs.

The city idea was first mooted in 2012 and at the initial stages were shrouded in mystery, with Mugabe reportedly having set up a confidential taskforce including representatives of the ministry of local government, foreign affairs, environment and natural resources management, transport, communication and infrastructure development.

Compensation for farmers

It was not clear why the foreign affairs ministry was included, but our sources suggested that it could have been a deliberate strategy to unlock funding from countries like China. The sources said the city was likely to affect a big number of commercial farmers who would be moved to make way for construction.

The MP for Zvimba East, where the planned city largely falls, Francis Mukwangwariwa, told The Zimbabwean that the farmers would be relocated to other areas and compensated.

“There must be relocation options for the farmers and other people who might be resident in areas that will be affected by the establishment of the city. The money must be found and it is the job of the finance minister (Patrick Chinamasa) to do that,” he said.

He added that the land designated for development was state land and dismissed claims that some private developers had been ordered out.

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