The government is expected to shell out close to $20 million in a project to tar a gravel road leading to Vice-President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s Sherwood Precab farm in Kwekwe, The Standard has established.

The Zimbabwe National Road Authority (Zinara) is funding the project, which has already raised eyebrows as the country is struggling to patch potholes on roads of major economic importance.

Tarring a road to the vice-president’s farm has raised eyebrows since most roads are now impassable

The road which falls under the Zibagwe Rural District Council (ZRDC), has been receiving much attention and resource allocation since Mnangagwa’s elevation to the VP’s post.

ZRDC chief executive officer, Farayi Machaya confirmed that his council was tarring the road leading to Mnangagwa’s farm using funds allocated to the local authority by Zinara.

But Machaya refused to give further details, saying he would need to consult his superiors first.

“We are doing it [tarring the road] as council but being funded by Zinara,” he said, before requesting written questions.

Machaya said the road does not serve only Mnangagwa, but the whole Sherwood community that includes Kotamai Business Centre, Indarama Mine, Sable Chemicals and Zesa Sherwood Substation which links Munyathi Power Station, Sherwood Primary School and the clinic.

The road, Machaya added, also served A1 and A2 farmers in Sherwood.

Machaya said the road was surfaced way back in the 80s and ZRDC only resolved to upgrade it in 2010, but the projects stalled due to lack of funds.

“Council is continuing from where it left,” he said.

However, a closer look at the road shows that it does not in any way link with Sable Chemicals and is further away from Sherwood Substation, which is closer to a road leading to Midlands Provincial Affairs minister Jason Machaya’s farm.

Indarama Mine stopped being a major economic player after almost halting operations some three years ago.

ZRDC has other roads of economic importance, chief among them the Kwekwe-Silobela road, which links to Nkayi and passes through gold-rich Jena mine, which remains untarred.

Sources said the road was never surfaced.

Machaya refused to speak on the estimated cost of tarring the road, distance and when the project is expected to be completed.

In 2014, the then Transport minister Obert Mpofu said it cost between $850 000 to $1,2 million to tar a 1km stretch of road, and going by that estimate, government will have to fork out about $20 million to tar the road to the VP’s farm.

Sources close to the developments said the tarring of the road was ordered by Transport minister Jorum Gumbo — a Mnangagwa ally.

“Yes, the minister gave instructions to Zibagwe council to tar the road, arguing the VP cannot continue to use a gravel road to his farm,” a source within ZRDC said.

Gumbo on Thursday denied giving any instruction to that effect, saying he was a professional minister who served everyone, not only Midlands.

The minister said he was not aware that there was work going on at that road.

“At the moment I am focusing on trunk roads,” Gumbo said.

The minister said he had checked with the relevant authority and was told that work on the road began when Nicholas Goche was still minister and only 8km of the road leading to Mnangagwa’s farm was yet to be tarred.

“The issue is mainly factional, that is why they prioritised it ahead of other economically productive roads such as the Harare-Beitbridge road that is pothole-infested,” said a source.

“There is also a 20km stretch of road between Kwekwe and Nkayi that could have been prioritised and could have economic value to Zibagwe Rural District Council, which they chose to ignore.”

But Gumbo said his mandate came from President Robert Mugabe, adding that he was not involved in factional politics in Zanu PF.