Hungry in the land of plenty Part 4 of 4 – The story of Mahenye

Tonje Sifelani

Of collapsed projects
Despite Mahenye being the living testimony that man and wild animals can coexist, the area has it flip side as far as projects are concerned.

The chief culprit of collapse of projects in Mahenye is that of natural disasters. This can be testified by the now defunct Mahenye Safari Lodge.

Constructed on an island in the 90s by the former ZimSun Limited, Mahenye Safari Lodge was built under the supervision of one of my akin; Musabani Thonje nicknamed The Black Engineer.

The facility became the pride not only of Chipinge but the whole of Manicaland province. The elite population would flood the safari for sun bathing and swimming and other sporting activities by the river. Dollars trickled in and the community benefited.

The year 2000 was a disaster with the onset of Tropical Cyclone Eline that swamped and burst through the island safari, the place was abandoned .Today, the debris remains. The swimming pools need some patch-ups but the dream still remains.

Lessons from Holland, “below sea-level” can be employed such as sand bagging and dyke systems. Modern construction engineering can do the trick.

Another project that is equally an eyesore is the District Development Fund (DDF) safari lodge that shows that a lot of public money was ploughed into it but by 2018, the building became a white elephant.

Proposed economic projects
Mahenye saw a conservation project called Jamanda Conservancy come into life recently. Most peasants seem not to have faith in this new initiative. It seems as though they are dumping their CAMPFIRE frustrations on the Jamanda project.

Several people who spoke to this writer are interested in having water for irrigation purposes than anything else.

Angel Sungura (39), advisor to Chief Mahenye implored the government to expedite the irrigation rollout programme especially by trapping water from the vantage of Chivilila Falls.

This was echoed by Smart Saidi (52) who was convinced that a lot would be benefitted with introduction of irrigation scheme. This will boost school attendance and mitigate on the dropout ratio that opts to trek down south.

David Chisasa (53) views Chibuwe and Masimbe as examples of societies that have broken the cycle of poverty. Johanne Sithole believes that with irrigation, Mahenye will be able to feed the nation.

Speaking for everyone, he says, “Give us water, we feed the nation.” The Chief, Hosi Thomas Chauke says he will be quite happy if his people have access to irrigation.

Such initiatives should not only end with Mahenye, it has to stretch to Chisuma, Makoho, Mabee, Garahwa and Mpungu.

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