‘…Procedures and regulations should not stifle development’
THE Minister of State for Manicaland Provincial Affairs, Dr Ellen Gwaradzimba has condemned the bureaucracy on the refurbishment of the Grand Reef Aerodrome, citing it as a key quick-win project that would unlock a lot of business opportunities for the province.
This was said on Monday during her familiarisation tour of the aerodrome which is 37 kilometres west of Mutare with a runway of 1250m x 30 oriented 05/23.
The resident Minister said there was need for a mental shift in the second Republic towards seeing through projects, as she articulated her commitment to see through the project, which was started last year by her predecessor Minister Monica Mutsvangwa, who is now the Minister of Information, Publicity and Broadcasting Services.
“What is required is having a common vision and belief that this is a critical project for Manicaland and Zimbabwe. One of our weaknesses as Zimbabweans is we are too academic. We have beautiful ideas. We see it, we plan and we plan forever, but lack on the actual doing, which is where we have been found wanting, but we want to break that barrier. Eng Zindoga as the man in charge of transport in Manicaland we want to see this project take off…Manicaland needs to develop, we need to grow and see tangible results on great ideas like these,” she said.
Minister Gwaradzimba hastened the Manicaland provincial road engineer in the Ministry of Transport and Infrastructural Development Atherton Zindoga to sit down with the consultancy firm spearheading the project, Ferro Consulting (Pvt) Ltd chaired by Mr Joseph Sanhanga, and work on the grey areas skipped in the procedures to get a green light for commencement of the project. She however underscored that in the second Republic which is running under the mantra, ‘Zimbabwe is open for business,’ there was need for government office bearers to ensure that procedures and regulations do not ‘unnecessarily’ stifle development.
“What we need from you (Eng Zindoga) is education. It’s you who gives us the direction because I think we are where we are today due to bureaucratic red tape and things are taking forever to be implemented…Procedures and regulations are there to guide us but they should not stifle progress and development. You need to quicken up the process. You give us the check list of what exactly is required for us to start this project so that we do not go wrong. We do not want to transgress on rules and regulations and it is very critical for us to follow that. The due processes should be done but let it not be a barrier to development,” she said.
Adding, “This we are saying No! This is why we are fast pushing for devolution, to say we are the determinants of the destiny and development in Manicaland, which should happen. Give us the check list and direction that should be followed.”
Minister Gwaradzimba said she wanted the project to take off fast and gave an ultimatum of tomorrow (Thursday) for the consultant and stakeholders to sit-down and see which procedures where bypassed. Thereafter, she said a meeting should be scheduled immediately with the permanent secretary in the Ministry of Transport before end of next week.
Engineer Zindoga indicated that the Ministry of Transport was in full support of such infrastructural development projects and delays were only because of some discrepancies noted in the procedure for the unsolicited bid, whereby the regulator, the Civil Aviation Authority of Zimbabwe (CAAZ) had approved the project without properly adhering to the new joint venture act procedures and without relaying information to the permanent secretary in the Ministry of Transport.
“We will however sit down with Mr Sanhanga and exchange notes to come up with the checklist for the propossed dossier as a follow up to try and resolve all the grey areas,” said Eng Zindoga in response to the resident Ministers ultimatum.
Minister Gwaradzimba also encouraged Manicaland businesspeople to have the same passion and patriotism towards development of the province, applauding the initiative by Mr Sanhanga who was fast to embrace the call by the new dispensation government for local and foreign businesspeople to take up public and private partnership (PPP) ventures in the country.
From being the first indigenous businessman to build a double storey building in the central business district in Manicaland, the Sanhanga Centre, which was commissioned in 1992 by the then President Robert Gabriel Mugabe, to scoring many firsts as the first black Zimbabwe National Chamber of Commerce chairman in 1986 among many other firsts he scored, Mr Sanhanga speaking on the sidelines said his consultancy firm was focusing on infrastructural projects which had been ‘shelved for too long’ but are economic enablers for Manicaland. He cited that Grand Reef Aerodrome was a stop-gap measure for Mutare endorsed last year on January 19 by the then Transport Minister Dr Joram Gumbo, meant to serve Mutare until the envisaged Government plans to build a commercial airport in Mutasa district where a suitable greenland was identified materialise.
He said following the endorsement by the Minister Gumbo, due diligence was done and CAAZ was agreeable to the project after submitting the required expression of interest and proposal for the project, but it seems there were some ‘thorny’ procedural issues that keep popping up, stalling progression towards implementation of the project.
“Several projects were shelved over the past 10 to 20 years due to financial constraints on the part of Government. But under PPPs we are saying Government will be opening up its doors to us the private sector and let us do what we do best, which is business. Government has the human resources and in some cases mechanization, but will be lacking the financial resources. This is where private sector comes to play,” said Sanhanga as he explained the PPP model which will be used to refurbish Grand Reef Aerodrome through the Manicaland Provincial Development Committee which comprises of public and private sector working together.
Sharing a bit of background on the project he said, “I will not focus much about how we started but more on the vision. I have been in business for the past 37 years and one day I asked myself what legacy I want to leave behind. My heart bleeds that we do not have an airport to link the world directly with Manicaland, but this is the stronghold province of Zimbabwe…Personally I do not like ‘talk shops’ but I am a doer, which is why I have survived so long in business. Government and private sector working together is the only way to sustainably turnaround our economy given our liquidity constraints in the country,” said the shrewd businessman.
Mr Sanhanga said already they had done the Bill of Quantities for the project, though prices have since tripled. Once a Memorandum of Understanding is signed he said the next step would be resource mobilisation, which was already done with potential investors’ on-hold since beginning of last year.
Zimbabwe National Chamber of Commerce Manicaland chairman Clive Chinwada who is also the provincial chairman of the Hospitality Association of Zimbabwe was present at the tour added that for business, particularly tourism, to increase in Manicaland, up to the levels of Victoria Falls, there was need for direct air connectivity.
Other senior government officials that were part of the Grand Reef Aerodrome tour were Manicaland Provincial Administrator Edgar Seenza and the directors in the office of the resident Minister Mr Kennedy Mugarisanwa and his deputy Mr Terrance Machocho.