Whitsun Foundation efforts

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During 1975-1978, three major Rhodesian corporations of the time, namely the Shell Company, Delta Breweries; and TA Holdings contributed to establishment of the Whitsun Foundation; a small highly focused outfit, whose aim was to prepare plans and projects, which included a land reform concept, for the development of the country.

These were mainly rural and marginal urban areas development of a kind that could be funded by the World Bank and other donors after the UN-imposed sanctions were lifted once Rhodesia became independent Zimbabwe. 

The foundation had limited success, mainly because its endeavours were viewed with suspicion.   

The Tribal Trust Land Development Corporation (TILCOR), though highly successful at the time, also suffered from the same misgiving and were unfairly labelled as a paternalistic offshoot of the much-maligned Rhodesian government’s Department of Native Affairs.

 TILCOR, whose mandate was seen as “Development with a national purpose”, was conceived and implemented by the government of the time, in pursuit of its policy to create “development nodes” in the vast Tribal Trust Land (Communal), areas of the country. 

The objective of these development nodes, was that they would form the catalyst for further development, and in time would become self-sustaining centres of economic activity; creating both work and wealth in the so-called tribal areas. 

With the exception of the Seke Industrial Complex, most of these development nodes were agricultural in nature, the Seke Industrial complex, located on the outskirts of the capital, Harare,  was the first of the corporation’s industrial nodes and was developed at the cost of Rhod$11,5 million.

The capital, provided by government, which had been invested in the creation of Growth-Points by TILCOR, exceeded Rhod$20 million.  

All profits from the sale of crops were ploughed back into further group development. 

The Tribal Trust Land Development Corporation’s (TILCOR’s), ultimate aim was that Growth-Points, with all their facilities, would be under the control of the local communities in the areas.

As with all infrastructure development at that time, the corporation was funded by the government from the very modest taxpayer base, considering that with the advent of sanctions in the 1960s, all external funding dried up. 

Bearing in mind that apart from company and mining taxes, which added to the tax base, individual taxpayers then, never, if ever, exceeded 200 000 individuals.

The output from the various The Tribal Trust Land Development Corporation (TILCOR), projects- i.e.; wheat, cotton, tea, etc., fed directly into the country’s mainstream economy and therefore contributed to the development of the nation as a whole. 

The activities of the various TILCOR projects were, however, hampered and restricted with the intensification of the War of Liberation being fought at the time (c.1965-1979).

The development of the Chisumbanje Irrigation Scheme in Chipinga District, was historically linked to the Sabi Experimental Station, located a couple of kilometres to the north. The Sabi Experimental Station, which was already operational in the early 1950s, was an agricultural research facility, which developed many of the crop hybrids specifically for the area. 

Another Tribal Trust Land Development Corporation (TILCOR), development scheme was the Nyamaropa Irrigation Scheme, located in the remote Inyanga North lowveld area, on the Gairezi River border with Mozambique. 

Moving from the agriculturally-orientated schemes to industrial schemes, three industrial complexes were either operational, or planned, in the communal areas in close proximity to Salisbury (Harare), Umtali (Mutare) and Bulawayo. 

The emphasis for these schemes was that they were to be situated within ‘tribal areas’, and in so doing ensuring a higher rate of cash flow into the surrounding villages.

The new tea-processing factory at the Katiyo Tea Estate, was the first industrial development in the Holdenby Tribal Trust Land.  

The vast fertile valley beyond it was yet to be developed, opening up a new way of life for the people in the area.

This also had the effect of stemming the drift of the population to the urban areas, as they now had their town with all its amenities and services in the tribal area.

In the more remote areas families were engaged in the production of traditional crafts, using their industry as a main source of income.  

Others used their craft as supplementary income.  

The various items they produced found a ready local and tourist market. 

In the hot, dry, Zambezi Valley in the extreme north of the country, was Mushumbi Pools Estate.   

Two hundred hectares of wild bush were immediately cleared and cotton was planted.  Plans for Mushumbi Pools Estate envisaged 1 000 hectares under cultivation and seasonal employment for 3 000 local inhabitants.  Nearby at Muzarabani, a sister estate and growth point were soon to be established.

The history of the Tribal Trust Land Development Corporation (TILCOR)/ARDA irrigation, would have been incomplete without the history that preceded it in Sanyati. Irrigation did not take place in a vacuum.

Dr. Michelina Rudo Andreucci is a Zimbabwean-Italian Researcher, Industrial Design Consultant, Lecturer and Specialist Hospitality Interior Decorator.  She is a published author in her field.  For Comments E-mail: linamanucci@gmail.com

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