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PM: Bulawayo Can Again Be "Smoke That Thunders"

Zimbabwe's Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai addressing representatives of civic groups in Harare on February 13, 2013.
Wrapping up a two-day visit to Bulawayo, Prime Minister and MDC-T leader Morgan Tsvangirai says his party’s plan to revive the economy includes tackling Bulawayo’s water shortages and fighting de-industrialisation.

In an election campaign-style speech to supporters, the prime minister said he would like to see Bulawayo restored as the industrial hub it once was, and achieving that means tackling the closing of factories and the area’s perennial water shortages. He urged people not to dwell on the area’s past, but look ahead.

“The critical issue is that it’s not about what has happened, but what is the future?” Mr. Tsvangirai asked rhetorically. “What is the future of Bulawayo in the face of all these challenges—water, deindustrialization, and order? What is the future? What plans should we put in place to revive our industries, to make sure that water is available, to make sure that Bulawayo becomes again the smoke that thunders?”

Mr. Tsvangirai added that he believes devolving power from Harare to the provinces is one way to promote development in the country’s marginalized areas. He said while the broad strokes of devolution are captured in the new constitution, Parliament still needs to act to map out a specific model.

“Many states have now developed [devolution] because of the complaint about marginalization and lack of focus in certain regions,” Tsvangirai said. “So it is a genuine and a justifiable expectation, and I am glad that the constitution actually captures this. But we need to go further and actually develop an act of Parliament to actually concretize this principle.”

The prime minister’s visit comes during Bulawayo’s worst water shortages in recent years, likely due to the decommissioning of the Upper Ncema dam last month and the expected decommissioning of the Inyankuni dam later this month.

Tsvangirai also met with area business and church leaders, as well as National Railways of Zimbabwe workers, in closed meetings.