Story by Regis Mhako
THE government has set the tone for the establishment of a US$4 billion Energy Park along the Great Dyke in the Mapinga area of Zvimba District after engaging key stakeholders including the farming community.
The Energy Park, which will also result in the development of a smart city in the area is expected to produce lithium, graphite, sulphate and chrome.
A value addition and beneficiation centre with refineries will also be established on-site alongside two power plants with a capacity to produce 300 megawatts each.
A high-powered delegation of government officials engaged stakeholders including farmers who will be affected by the development, with Mines and Mining Development Deputy Minister Honourable Polite Kambamura unpacking the benefits of the investment.
“This speaks to the investment drive and thrust of the government to ease imports of products and energy. The project will start in phases and is expected to take up to three years to be complete,” noted Honourable Kambamura.
Chief Zvimba welcomed the massive investment which is expected to transform the area into an economic hub.
“If I say I am happy then I would be happy. I am over-excited. I wish this project began yesterday,” he said.
Some anxious farmers sought answers from Lands, Agriculture, Fisheries, Water and Rural Development Minister Dr Anxious Masuka on how and where they will be relocated.
In response, Dr Masuka assured them that they will be given alternative land as soon as the necessary processes have been completed.
“All of you will be given alternative plots. But we will first let you sign the notice of withdrawal letters on which you have to highlight the kind of farming business line you are undertaking,” noted Dr Masuka.
“Those who decide to stay put, let us know so that when the investor is on the ground, they will build houses for you here since the area will also be turned into a smart
city,” she said.
For Mashonaland West Minister of State for Provincial Affairs and Devolution Honourable Mary Mliswa, the investment will create massive opportunities in the province.
“This is a big investment which will definitely ensure high employment opportunities for job seekers. We are glad it’s in our Province,” she said.
The first phase is expected to start next month, beginning with a power plant, a sulphate and a lithium refinery.