Villagers in Umzingwane District, located just 40km from Zimbabwe’s second-largest city, Bulawayo are still climbing hills and trees in order for them to access mobile network services.
This was revealed by Umzingwane MP, Levi Mayihlome (ZANU PF), during a debate on the 2022 national budget in Parliament recently.
Mayihlome said the unreliability of network coverage in his constituency has put villagers at a disadvantage when it comes to accessing online services. He said:
I come from a constituency that is barely 40 km from Bulawayo; 50% of people in that constituency do not have any access to any connectivity of whatever kind.
We are talking of people climbing mountains to access social media. We are talking of people climbing trees to report about ill patients.
You are talking of people who have to compete with those based in cities to apply for vacancies in nursing, teaching and all those organizations now advertise on the internet or WhatsApp.
He urged Finance and Economic Development Minister, Mthuli Ncube to adequately finance internet and mobile phones connectivity in rural areas to ensure they are not left behind in national development. Said Mayihlome:
How do we compete with those that come from Harare? They come 40 km away but they do not have any network and we have been talking about this every year and the [Finance] Minister has been promising to fund this but nothing has happened.
Honestly, if the President is saying no region or no place and no one should be left behind, why is the Ministry not practising that?
Why should we be left behind and watch other parts of the country talk about smart agriculture, e-learning and all these other developments and yet we are just watching it all, nothing?
Mayihlome said it was disappointing that every year money is promised for the provision of mobile network services but it is never released.