Matabeleland North’s capital, Lupane appears to have its growth anchored on developments taking place at Lupane State University (LSU), but this has not been met with the provision of commensurate basic services, especially accommodation.
by Luyanduhlobo Makwati
LSU was the first government department to move large numbers of people at one go to the town which was declared the provincial capital 19 years ago.
Over the years, several developments have taken place including the LSU campus, the registrar general’s office, Elitsheni government complex and the Bubi-Lupane dam.
However, while some stakeholders support the move to relocate people to the town, others have raised objections over the site’s lack of facilities and accommodation.
The town had been envisaged to have by now grown to levels where the province would have shown significant change in terms of people settlement, among other things.
Town secretary for Lupane local board, Charlton Moyo admitted that there were serious problems in the provision of accommodation for officials relocating to the town from Bulawayo, where most of them were based.
He said it was government’s plan to move all provincial government departments to Lupane.
“Also when you look at the university, the numbers are growing and we are still trying to come up with means of servicing all government departments that are here,” Moyo told The Standard yesterday.
“We have planned to service our partners in two phases — short to medium term plans. So far we have availed 200 stands which are likely to be completely serviced by the first quarter of the year and these stands have been allocated to university lecturers.”
He said the local board had engaged the Infrastructure Development Bank of Zimbabwe (IDBZ) to partner them to construct hostels that could accommodate over 1 500 students.
LSU said it would be moving its third batch of students in the Department of Development Studies by end of March to their main campus.
The situation is likely to put more pressure on available accommodation structures.
LSU public relations director, Zwelithini Dlamini said they had started engaging local residents to accommodate students and lecturers.
He said Treasury had availed funds for the completion of staff flat-lets that were almost 90% complete.
“However, due to the increase in numbers, we cannot accommodate everyone on campus and we have since advised our members of staff to look for alternative accommodation out of campus,” Dlamini said.
“A lot of factors will be considered in allocating accommodation on campus ranging from seniority and conditions of service, among other factors.”
He said they had since been offered close to 200 houses in the area but the houses did not have electricity.
The registrar-general’s office was also expected to be fully operational at its premises that have remained idle years after completion in Lupane.
The provincial staff in Bulawayo is expected to be on site by February 23.
The movement of the workers will worsen the accommodation crisis in the town. Concerns have been raised over the slow pace of development in Lupane two decades after it was given provincial capital status.