By Tererai Karimakwenda
13 November, 2012
Plans to build a new capital for Zimbabwe are reported to be already underway, with officials confirming the new capital city will be located in Mt Hampden, which is in Robert Mugabe’s rural home of Zvimba District.
Construction of a new parliament building has begun at the site, 40 kilometres west of Harare. Shopping malls, hotels and a posh residential area are said to be on the cards as well.
The independent Newsday newspaper said the development was confirmed on Monday by the Minister for Local Government, Ignatius Chombo, who said the site had been identified and the project was a going ahead.
Chombo said the new capital will also house other important government buildings, including the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe, the Supreme and High Courts, State House and several government ministries. This would essentially move the centre of government from Harare to Zvimba.
Political analyst Professor John Makumbe dismissed the project as “ridiculous”, saying Mugabe is trying to crown his legacy by moving the entire the capital city to his backyard. “These are dreams of old, wild men,” Makumbe said.
Asked how such a huge project is being funded, Makumbe said: “We know that the Chinese are in charge of it. They built the National Military Academy in record time and are building the Gweru Conference Centre, which must be finished before the 4th December. For both projects they are getting diamonds,” Makumbe explained.
But the analyst, who plans to run for political office under the MDC-T, warned that these projects are only being pursued because ZANU PF is in power. Makumbe said should the MDC-T take over, they will put an end to what he called “silly ventures that amount to diamond looting by the Chinese”.
According to Newsday newspaper, Chombo explained that the early colonialists meant to put the capital at Mt Hampden. But the emissaries sent to raise the British flag there got lost and raised it at the Kopje instead, establishing the present-day Harare in the 1890s.
It’s interesting to see ZANU PF agreeing with the colonialists for once.