The Herald (Harare)

Zimbabwe: Midlands Defends Project

Gweru — ZANU-PF Midlands deputy provincial chairman Cde Larry Mavhima has defended the construction of a US$6,5 million conference centre here, saying it was part of national development.

"The fact is that as a party we do not have any large facilities to hold meetings outside the party headquarters in Harare so we felt that as a party we should have such facilities throughout the country. So this is one such facility we are constructing.

"Apart from hosting the conference this year, the facility will also be available for hire to churches, musical concerts and businesses . . . in fact it will be an income-generating project for the party," he said.

There are also many exhibitions that are conducted in the city given its centrality to many places and the centre will never be a white elephant.

Cde Mavhima said they had since engaged the Zimbabwe Tourism Authority to market the venue.

He said this was a way of attracting tourists to Gweru.

Cde Mavhima dismissed as rubbish, allegations that Zanu PF had diverted proceeds from diamond sales to build the facility.

"That is absolutely rubbish and hogwash. If anyone can prove that I will personally borrow US$1 million and give that person.

"This money was raised by people in this province who want to see Midlands developing. If we have stolen the money then those people should go and report to the police."

He added: "This is not a Government project, but a private project, a Zanu-PF project. We have our right to privacy and are not accountable to MDC formations or anyone but ourselves."

The Kimberly Process Certification Scheme has already certified that Zimbabwe diamonds were not being abused and that the Zimbabwe Revenue Authority was directly receiving 15 percent of all sales of the Marange gems.

Cde Mavhima said the conference centre would be a legacy not only to Zanu-PF supporters, but for the communities surrounding it.

"This is to show that Zanu PF is here and will be there in future.

"It is not only for our supporters but for the communities," he said.

The architectural design of the conference is themed along the Great Zimbabwe Monument and has 5 000 seater auditorium, offices for the presidium and other heads of department.

Some state-of-the-art seats are being installed for the comfort of the delegates.

The conference centre is being constructed at a site10 kilometres along the Gweru-Mvuma Road.

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