Umzingwane villagers still climbing trees to access cellphone network

Villagers in Umzingwane, about 40km outside Bulawayo are still climbing hills and trees in order for them to access cell phone networks, a situation that remains a major setback in the development of the area, a legislator has said.

Debating the 2022 national budget in the august House recently, Umzingwane lawmaker, Levi Mayihlome, challenged Finance and Economic Development Minister, Mthuli Ncube to adequately finance internet and mobile phones connectivity in rural areas to ensure they develop to the level of urban areas.

“I come from a constituency which is barely 40 km from Bulawayo; 50% of people in that constituency do not have any access to any connectivity of whatever kind,” decried Mayihlome.

“We are talking of people climbing mountains to access social media. We are talking of people climbing trees to report about ill patients. You are talking of people who have to compete with those based in cities to apply for vacancies in nursing, teaching and all those organizations now advertise on the internet or WhatsApp.”

He further said: “How do we compete with those that come from Harare? They come 40 km away but they do not have any network and we have been talking about this every year and the [Finance] Minister has been promising to fund this but nothing has happened. Honestly, if the President is saying no region or no place and no one should be left behind, why is the Ministry not practicing that? Why should we be left behind and watch other parts of the country talk about smart agriculture, e-learning and all these other developments and yet we are just watching it all, nothing?

Mayihlome said it was regrettable that every year money is promised to address that challenge but it is never released.

“Every year we get promised,” he said.

“This year we were told that the money was there and it was in foreign currency but the foreign currency is controlled by the same Minister. Honestly, I think this one needs more resources Hon. Minister. The issue of the network cannot be delayed any further. We need it now so that our children, parents and those who want to transact, everybody is transacting through Ecocash, how do you transact when there is no network?”

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