After a 17-year-long wait, Ekusileni Medical Centre, a brainchild of one of the founding fathers of the liberation, Dr Joshua Nkomo will finally open its doors thanks to the new administration led by President Emmerson Mnangagwa.

However, it is not only the hospital that the new administration is opening and preserving the legacy of Dr Nkomo, but it has made a number of interventions to make sure that the National Hero’s contribution lives long after his death on this day 19 years ago.

Apart from the opening of Ekusileni, and perhaps the most important of all, President Mnangagwa on his inauguration in November last year preached on peace and love among Zimbabweans towards the development of the country. This was the vision of Dr Nkomo that even on his death bed, he told former President Mr Robert Mugabe to make sure that the country is united.

However, with time, Mr Mugabe surrounded himself with enemies of unity and of the country and set himself against the people and the very founding principles that brought the country’s independence. Relief however, came in the form of President Mnangagwa and the new administration that has returned the country to those values of unity peace and development in the country.

“My presidency should not be perceived as a rise in the fortunes of a region, a tribe or a totem. My presidency is about a united Zanu-PF, a national party with a national outlook. I stand, therefore, as the President of a united, non-racial Zimbabwe, itself home to many tongues, dialects, cultures, colours and age groups.

“I am a President of women and men, the young and the old, the able-bodied and physically challenged, the rich and the poor, the well and the sick. I am an emissary of all the veterans and heroes, dead or alive, who through their blood sketched the cause and mission which my presidency must promote, must actualise and advance,” said President Mnangagwa as he addressed the Zanu-PF Extraordinary Congress in Harare last year.

Speaking at Ekusileni last Saturday, President Mnangagwa said the failure of opening the health facility would be a betrayal of Dr Nkomo’s legacy.

“When this new dispensation came in to being, we decided to attend to this institution and I discussed with (Health and Child Care) Minister David Parirenyatwa that everything has to be done to make it operational.

“I was speaking to him and I said what’s going on today, and he said we are not yet there. Then I said to him, I said we can go ahead. I am happy to say that on the 15th of July, the investors will be on the ground,” he said.

Outside Ekusileni, the President has also honoured Dr Nkomo’s legacy by completing the Zigrenda canning factory in Esigodini that was initiated by Dr Nkomo.

“In Norton, close to Harare we have a plant started by Father Zimbabwe, vaNkomo a long time ago that turn tomatoes into juice and processes all fruits. We are constructing a second one in Esigodini so that the women with tomatoes won’t need to sit on the road to sell tomatoes,” he told a Zanu-PF rally in Gwanda recently.

“There will be trucks that drive within 150km of the plant collecting mangoes, tomatoes, guavas, and will be taken to the plant to produce the juice. It is coming here, it’s what we call agro-processing, it’s a process we are going to do to promote, modernise and mechanise our agriculture.”

In an interview with Chronicle ahead of the 16th anniversary of Dr Nkomo’s death, former Zipra intelligence supremo, Dr Dumiso Dabengwa shared the late Vice-President’s vision that covered various sectors of the economy.

Dr Dabengwa said after Independence in 1980, Dr Nkomo had a vision for the development of the country captured in his “green book” published in the same year.

“He (Dr Nkomo) looked at a number of other developmental strategies which he thought needed to be implemented. In agriculture for instance this is why he went on to buy that huge farm, Nuanetsi Ranch and his main vision was that it should be a farm that produces pedigree cattle whose bulls would help improve the national herd,” said Dabengwa.

“There were plans to develop sugar fields alongside the Triangle sugar estates and these were to be developed by black farmers. Nuanetsi Ranch was to have its own sugar mill to produce a variety of other by-products such as ethanol and syrup.”

Dr Dabengwa said Nkomo also made strides in empowering the black majority in the mining sector.

“He looked at mining and realised that most of the mines were owned at that time by the multi nationals. Indigenous miners did not have the qualifications and he decided to bring in people that would be prepared to train the black on modern mining methods.

“He brought in for instance the Russians who formed Development Trust of Zimbabwe (DTZ) to mine gold in the Penalonga area and the idea was to get DTZ to use that experience that they had to open up more alluvial gold mines along our rivers, which would be owned by black miners and they would be trained on exactly how to extract that gold along the river valleys.”

On coffee plantations, Dr Dabengwa said Nkomo bought Vumba Coffee Estates where again DTZ started growing sugar for the purpose of producing it and broadening the coffee production to indigenous farmers around those areas along the Vumba mountains.

He said Dr Nkomo’s vision was to have coffee produced in Zimbabwe and exported to other countries.

Dr Dabengwa also made reference to the tomato canning projects initiated by Nkomo in Norton and Esigodini.

“Nkomo wanted development and his idea was to develop projects in all the provinces of Zimbabwe. In Mashonaland West, he had a timber project which he wanted undertaken,” said Dr Dabengwa.

He said Dr Nkomo also had projects he wanted to implement in Mavuradona Mountains, Mt Darwin.

“On the Kariba Dam, he had an idea of a big tourist resort that would be developed not far from the Kariba Dam wall, about 30 or so kilometres west of the Dam Wall at a point which used to be called Wafa Wafa. He wanted to develop the hard wood timber areas in Tsholotsho, Lupane, Nkayi and Gokwe and wanted the timber processed and sold to those producing finished products such as furniture, doors, flooring tiles and other such products thereby creating jobs.”

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