MASVINGO – Great Zimbabwe University has saved Mashava from becoming a ghost town after it acquired property belonging to Shabanie Mashava Mines (SMM).
There could soon be a new buzz in Mashava, which had gone dead after the closure of SMM’s Gaths Mine.
The previously vibrant asbestos mining town had fallen into a deep slumber after the then Zanu PF government grabbed the properties from South Africa-based Zimbabwean business mogul Mutumwa Mawere.
Now under the mentorship of new vice chancellor Rungano Zvobgo, the university has acquired property in the town on a 20-year lease.
Zvobgo told journalists during a media tour of the premises this week that the university would transform the small town into a vibrant place by opening a campus that will attract lots of investors and other businesses.
“The most significant achievement so far in the first 100 days in office is the acquisition on a 20-year lease of the now disused Gaths Mine premises in Mashava. The facilities are extra-ordinary and easily adaptable to university learning,” said Zvobgo.
He added that the campus will have facilities like students residences which are now being refurbished, lecture rooms, multi-purpose halls, staff houses, a club house and guest houses.
The university has since acquired 300 housing units which will be dived into two sections for use by students and staff.
Zvobgo said the houses will accommodate a total of 1 800 students and relieve students from the nightmare of sharing a single room in their dozens as was happening in Masvingo town.
“Our students will no longer be squashed in big numbers in a single room like before. We are going to finish refurbishing the houses soon and come August the campus will be open,” he said.
Zvobgo said the university had opted to lease the properties after realising that it will battle with the high cost of constructing new buildings at the campus site near the Great Zimbabwe monuments, where President Robert Mugabe officiated at a ground-breaking ceremony in 2005.
The small mining town of Mashava had become a haven for illegal activities, like gold panning and prostitution, which were dominated by youths barely in their teens.
Some former Gaths Mine workers, who were reeling from unemployment, have been promised jobs when the campus opens. – Godfrey Mtimba