Sanyati Growth point turned into magirosa

It used be one of the developed rural service centres in the country boasting a thriving estate, cotton ginnery and growing housing sector.

Sanyati Growth Point was a model for many areas in Mashonaland West in the late 1990s.

Back then Sanyati district produced the best cotton crop.

Supported by a thriving retail sector, Sanyati Growth Point became a shining example of rural development in Zimbabwe.

A growth point that did not only boast public service offices, Sanyati also had a thriving agro-based industry.

Sanyati was well connected to Kadoma by wide tarred road.

A decade later the growth point has fizzled out.

That tarred road is now a pothole-riddled strip – very difficult to navigate.

The road is now a sheer test of driving patience and has not been properly maintained, thereby heavily affecting the flow of traffic to the town and farther to Gokwe.

The present economics of cotton production have threatened to leave the once fast growing service centre a ghost town.

Most of the shops have been closed while a few still open are virtually empty.

Business is slowly grinding to a halt. Some buildings are now white elephants with broken windows and doors common. No one makes enough anymore to make their businesses viable.

There is no redevelopment plan in sight.

The Agricultural and Rural Development Authority (Arda) Sanyati Estate and the Cottco ginnery that used to be biggest employers ground to halt leaving thousands jobless and scavenging for food.

Factories and processing yards are quiet. The current economic situation has taken a toll on the growth point and instead of pulling people it is actually pushing residents away.

Member of Parliament for Sanyati Cde Blessed Runesu Geza said the closure of ARDA Sanyati and recently the Cottco depot at Sanyati Growth Point is a serious drawback to development in the entire district.

The two companies were the constituency’s main employers.

“The closure of ARDA and lately of Cottco has made life difficult for many people in the district.

“Apart from full-time workers and their families thousands were employed as casual labour and would get some income from the two companies once a year.

“This has stalled development in the area. If you have been to Sanyati Growth Point before, you can tell that life has changed.

“The growth point used to be a hive of activity but now is a pale shadow of its former self,” he said.

Cde Geza said shops were closing and people relocating to their rural areas.

The hope that Sanyati Estates and Cottco would be revived has faded hence they can continue living in the township.

“Shops are closing and there is very little taking place at the growth to create employment.

“Most people are now employed in the small and medium enterprises sector and cannot afford to spend anymore,” he said.

But in Sanyati constituency not all hope is lost as Cde Geza has engaged ARDA management to revive Sanyati Estates.

“The discussions are promising and soon we will see something happening at Sanyati Estates.

“As you might have witnessed we have pooled resources to repair the Sanyati-Kadoma Road. We got some help from Zinara and in the next few days we will complete rehabilitating the stretch from Kadoma to Sanyati Growth Point,” Cde Geza said.

Sanyati Rural District Council chairman Cde Tawanda Tachiona said the main focus at the moment was the main road to Sanyati and Kadoma.

“Our greatest problem is that we wish that the road linking us with other centres is refurbished to ensure that we have enough transport. When it was fully functional the estates used to employ more than 3 000 people, both full-time and casual, during the harvesting period.

“ARDA operations must be revived soon to ensure that people benefit. We are hearing that there are many suitors who have visited the estate but nothing tangible has materialised.

“There are no jobs; we don’t know what to do with these children. The estate had a very large piece of land that has not been utilised,” he said.

The estate used to grow wheat, maize cotton and beans.

A former worker with Sanyati Estates, Mr Malvern Kamukosa, said they have watched the bushes grow into a thicket and hopes of a revival are now fading.

The trees are enjoying the fertiliser and manure left in the soil and growing so fast. It is unfortunate no one seems to care.

A number of partnerships that have been entered into by ARDA and private companies have suffered a stillbirth.

“It’s a tall order. The company will have to undergo a massive bush clearance and that costs money.

“Underground water pipes and that centre pivot will need repairs.

“That could have been avoided had ARDA maintained a skeleton staff to man the estate as they looked for an investor.

“We have not been paid and there is no possibility of getting that pay soon.

“The company is broke and it seems those tasked with its management have no idea on what to do. I wonder why they still draw these large salaries,” he said.

He added that like many others who have left the growth point, he would gladly leave the company compound for his rural home in Mt Darwin if he had money.

Unemployment has forced many people out of compounds and the township as they can no longer pay the rents. Only a few are soldier on.

Mrs Loice Ziyambi said she had relocated to her rural home after failing to eke out a living in the growth point.

“I now rent out my house at the ARDA compound for US$20 a month while I do subsistence farming.

“I use the money to pay school fees for my two children. I just wait for the revival of the estates,” she said.

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