THE Beitbridge Town Council, which was recently elevated to the status of municipality, is set to experience revenue growth and an influx of investors as it expands.
The town, which has over the years been a trade window for numerous visitors, will soon see infrastructural development following its elevation.
Speaking at a dinner held to celebrate the occasion recently, Municipality of Beitbridge Mayor, Councillor Showa Moyo, said hard work and a desire to see Beitbridge grow had made it possible for the town to attain municipality status.
“At first it was a dream to be the Mayor of Beitbridge but finally it’s here, we’re a municipality now. What took us here is your support the community of Beitbridge. We walked this journey together,” said Clr Moyo.
She said a municipality is a huge responsibility that will require all stakeholders to work closely together to achieve great things.
“I know all of you have expectations from the municipality and my council will ensure those expectations are met. It’s exciting for me, knowing that all councillors, council staff and our stakeholders share a common goal, which is to see Beitbridge becoming a truly beautiful city,” said Clr Moyo.
The mayor said Beitbridge is a unique town which has one of the biggest transit populations in the country.
“We have visitors that pass through our town on a daily basis. Besides planning for ourselves, we therefore need to plan for the transit population. They present a huge opportunity for us and we need to get something from them as they pass through,” said Clr Moyo.
She said the municipality was pleased with the progress made so far and were looking to reach greater heights.
“We’re happy about the progress we’ve made so far. It was never easy; in the process we fought and challenged each other to get our town where it is today.
Our mission doesn’t end here, our town is still growing. Our aim is to be the first town to attain the city status in Matabeleland South province. Let’s not doubt ourselves; we can achieve this within record time. To attain this we need investment in commercial and industrial development. It will be good to see this investment being spearheaded by us the people of Beitbridge,” said Clr Moyo.
Beitbridge Municipality Town Clerk, Mr Loud Ramakgapola, said the elevation was exciting.
“It gives us confidence and it’ll be easier for investors to come in. Land ownership will soon be a reality as our revenue base also increases,” he said.
Vice President Kembo Mohadi, who was the guest of honour at the event, said the elevation marked a great milestone and reiterated the significance and importance of Beitbridge as an urban centre.
“This municipality status has consolidated Beitbridge as the fastest growing town in Zimbabwe. Within just over 10 years after the establishment of a town council, the town has moved on to attain municipal status, in the process becoming the second municipality in Matabeleland South province after the Municipality of Gwanda,” said VP Mohadi.
He said it was important to appreciate Government’s role in getting the town to this level.
“Through the National Economic Development Priority Programme (NEDPP), Government came up with the Beitbridge Redevelopment Programme in 2006. The project was and is still meant to transform the town into a modern city. Under the programme, the construction of a total of 16 blocks of flats to house 64 families, mainly civil servants, 250 core houses for home ownership, 52 F14 houses for civil servants, road dualisation, upgrading water supply and sewer infrastructure in the town, was to be undertaken and these are on course to be completed once funds are made available,” said VP Mohadi.
He said other institutional facilities Government intended to put up in the town include a new hospital, primary school, secondary school, civic centre, Government composite office block, modern truck inn, shopping complex, a five star hotel, an aerodrome and the upgrading of the border post to meet world class standards.
“Government has recently announced the allocation of $14 million to upgrade the border post and is also looking at constructing an airport to service the town. If these plans come to fruition, we may soon talk of Beitbridge becoming a city,” said VP Mohadi.
He said this upgrading, once complete, will usher a new era in Beitbridge
“It’s high time we consider investing locally so that our town continues to grow,” said VP Mohadi.
Oral history highlights that the early settlement of Beitbridge was along the Limpopo River, close to the bridge. Beitbridge was founded around 1929 and the building of the bridge had an influence on the early stages of the growth of the town. The town underwent several administrative changes since the 1920s to around 1992/1993 when it became Beitbridge Rural District Council.
Previously a Town Board under the Beitbridge Rural District Council, a town council was then established and came into being on July 1, 2007.
Beitbridge is the most populous urban settlement in Matabeleland South province.
As per the 2012 census report, the town is home to 42 137 inhabitants — a population that was more than double that of the provincial capital, Gwanda which had 20 227 inhabitants. The Beitbridge urban population has been doubling every 10 years for the past two decades (11 000 in 1992, 22 387 in 2002 and 42 137 in 2012).
At this growth rate, it is estimated to be around 80 000 in 2022.