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Published: November 23, 2012
A State House and presidential and VIP villas are the centrepieces of the new capital city planned for President Robert Mugabe’s home district, Zvimba, as the government forges ahead with the construction of the contentious satellite town.
Report by Everson Mushava|Newsday
The State House, presidential and VIP villas will be built adjacent to a wildlife sanctuary and monument, with luxury hotels and shopping malls, coupled with three-way freeways, completing the picturesque setting for the planned satellite town, triggering questions as to where the money could be coming from.
From a video obtained from the Ministry of Local Government, Urban and Rural Development, which is spearheading the controversial project in Mt Hampden, the new city will be built on “6 000 hectares of virgin land”.
Local Government minister Ignatius Chombo is heading the construction of the city.
Ideally, the ministry claims, the construction of the new city, described as the Sandton of Zimbabwe, is meant to decongest Harare, but sceptics believe it is part of a grand strategy to “bring luxury closer to Mugabe’s doorstep”.
Sandton is an affluent suburb on the outskirts of South Africa’s commercial capital, Johannesburg.
According to the video — titled Parliament: The Centre of National Government and Epicentre of Satellite City — the project is set to “inspire future generations and serve as the country’s heritage”.
It will also have official residences for the Speaker of Parliament and President of Senate.
At the centre of the city will be the Parliament Building surrounded by recreational parks and government offices.
“As master planner, the Ministry of Local Government will ensure that the Parliament Building harmonises with the overall vision and concept of a modern city,” the promotional recording says.
“As a result, the city will have expansive gardens with green spaces to expose the country’s natural beauty.”
A new university, technology centre, schools, churches, hospitals and an industrial site are some of the landmarks promised in the video.
Five low-density suburbs to be known as Oldbury, Mt Hampden, Mgutu, Marryvale and Nyabira that have already been planned, complete the “paradise city”.
The city’s electricity will be generated from wind and solar power to augment erratic Zesa supplies.
The city will also have a separate water treatment plant from Harare, which suffers from regular water cuts.
Chombo last week defended the construction of the new city on the grounds that the colonial government’s plans were to build present Harare in Mt Hampden
However, the plans have not been endorsed by the inclusive government and Public Works minister Joel Gabuza yesterday said he was still not aware of the project, a week after NewsDay broke the story.
“The project is shrouded in secrecy,” Gabuza said. “A parliamentary committee was appointed, which was supposed to be chaired by my ministry, but I later gathered that it was being chaired by Chombo.
“When I queried it, I was told that Chombo was simply there to provide land.
“I don’t even know of the new plan for Mt Hampden. I know only of the Kopje plan. The committee had not reported to Parliament.”
Initial government plans were to build a new Parliament building in the Mt Hampden area.