Nqobile Tshili, Chronicle Reporter

COMMUNITIES have been challenged to shun reliance on donor funds and utilise local resources to develop the country.

Women Affairs, Community, Small and Medium Enterprises Development Deputy Minister Jennifer Mhlanga said it was unsustainable for the country to depend imports and donors.

She was speaking in Mlomwe village in Bulilima East Constituency on Friday where she was handing over a $284 000 revolving loan to Vusanani Cooperative for a cattle pen fattening project.

The fund was availed under the Ministry’s Zimbabwe Community Development Fund, to uplift communities.

The Vusanani Cooperative is engaged in cattle pen fattening project and various small and medium enterprise development projects and beneficiation and value addition of local resources.

The cooperative produces jam, oil, stockfeed, petroleum jelly, dish washer using local resources.

Deputy Minister Mhlanga said it was commendable that women were taking a leading role in development projects.

“There is a need for us to promote local economic development through utilising local resources. There is no one who would come from elsewhere to develop our communities and our country. We should look around our communities and assess the resources that we have and use them for development. Local economic development can only be achieved if people use resources within their communities,” said Deputy Minister Mhlanga.

“We have been affected by climate change and in view adverse effects caused by climate change, Government has introduced the Intwasa/Pfumudza zero tillage project. So, it is prudent especially for communities to embrace this project to improve food security. We cannot achieve local economic development when we are importing goods from South Africa. If we are importing goods, we are creating employment in countries we import from.”

She said a lot of communities have become highly depended on donor funding for their livelihoods, something which is unsustainable and promotes under development of the country.

The Deputy Minister said communities should assess the local resources and use them to their advantage as opposed to waiting for donor funds.

Deputy Minister Mhlanga said countries such as Singapore have shown interest in the country’s beef yet Zimbabwe has not taken advantage of such ready markets to uplift themselves.

She said for more communities to benefit from the Ministry’s revolving funds, groups that have benefitted from it should pay back the loan, so that others can do the same.

Matabeleland South Provincial Affairs and Devolution Minister Abednego Ncube commended the Ministry of Women Affairs, Community Development and Small and Medium Enterprises for coming up with projects to uplift women and communities.

He said in view of climate change, farmers have to embrace pen cattle fattening, as opposed to losing stock to drought.

“Matabeleland South province is known of high-quality beef, however this has been negatively affected by perennial droughts where most farmers lose their herds. This has called for farmers to adopt mitigation strategies such as pen fattening which is being used by the Vusanani Cooperative. However, these tend to be capital extensive and most people cannot afford,” he said.

“We appreciate the support you have given to Vusanani Cooperative and I would like to appeal to the private sector to partner with Government in supporting the SMEs in the beef production sector.”

Environment, Climate, Tourism and Hospitality Industry Minister Mangaliso Ndlovu, who is also the area MP said it was critical to support community projects, as they a vehicle for development.

He said while Matabeleland South is a gold mining region, Bulilima district was the only peculiar of them all as it does not have gold.

“Hence, we also have to utilise the resources that we have as a community. In the coming months, we want to register all SMEs and see how they can benefit communities. I grew up despising Marula fruits but we have seen than it can be an economic enable as shown by what Vusanani Cooperative has done through its beneficiation and value addition,” said Minister Ndlovu.

He said he would support other community development projects such as poultry, pig farming among other programmes, that can be sustainable for the community.

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