Zimbabwe: Completion of the new emblematic Parly building
Embodying magnificence, the imposing six-storey circular Parliament building at Mount Hampden, sitting on a platform 70 meters above the scenic surrounding area, symbolically projecting legislative supremacy, is now 100% complete and ready to be transferred.
Breathtaking furnishings and high-end fittings for offices and bedrooms have already been installed, with only work on two other car parks and landscaping pending, a recent site visit showed.
Royalty greets the visitor from the main entrance to the superstructure, where two water fountains, inspired by one of the seven wonders of the world, Mosi-oa-Tunya (the smoke that thunders), the splendid Victoria Falls, tell majestic Zimbabwean history of beauty and an enduring legacy of peace.
On either side of the stools and impressive squares are four pillars on top of which are perched eight birds of Zimbabwe.
Construction of the building, the concept of which originated in 1983 with the Kopje area of Harare as the proposed site, is being undertaken on a six-hectare plot at Mount Hampden, approximately 18 km northwest of Harare along Old Mazowe Road, thus creating opportunities for a new city project.
The project was made possible by a grant from the government of the People’s Republic of China through China-Aid. Feasibility studies were conducted by the Beijing Institute of Architectural Design Company Limited in 2015.
It was designed by China SIPPR Engineering Group, and Shanghai Construction Group, a global construction giant, was the contractor.
The government of Zimbabwe has also spent $2.4 million to enable works to start the project.
The designs for the new Parliament building, which embody Zimbabwean culture and heritage enshrined in the Great Zimbabwe monument, were completed and approved in October 2017. Work on the project began in November 2018 and was completed on May 27. 2022.
The project, which includes four floors on the Parliament side and an adjacent six-floor office building, includes a Chamber of Commerce, containing the 350-seat National Assembly and the 100-seat Senate.
A 108-seat gallery overlooks the National Assembly, while an 84-seat gallery overlooks the Senate. There are also 24 rooms for interpreters for the National Assembly and the Senate; 12 for each house, which are connected to the state-of-the-art sound system.
The public can follow the debates from the outside thanks to the televisions installed on the municipal square, which also allows to have a clearer view of the building.
From the ground floor to the fourth floor of the Chamber House building, and up to the fifth floor on the office side, a cozy atmosphere captures the eye of the discerning visitor.
Three bridges connect the House of Chambers to the office building on each of the first, second and third floors, making a total of nine.
In addition, there are two specious and exquisitely furnished special committee rooms, and 15 equally decorated 30- and 44-seat committee rooms, connected to state-of-the-art conferencing systems.
At least 600 well-furnished rooms, among which service areas, VIP offices and managers’ offices are part of the office section. There are also bar areas for members of the National Assembly and the Senate, a well-equipped staff canteen, a comfortably furnished dining room, a library, storerooms and server rooms as well as public receptions at each stage.
The building also has a press studio and a conference room, a multipurpose room and, eventually, 800 parking spaces including 50 reserved for VVIPs and associated services.
High-quality information technology, which has installed world-class systems in the building for conferencing, firefighting, air conditioning and cooling technologies, completes the path to excellence.
From the top of the hill on which the building stands magnificently, the visitor is absorbed in the serenity of the underlying surroundings, an expanse that extends to the limit of the eye, creating a feeling of deja vu that does not only comes with familiarity. It is this kind of peace and tranquility that lingers in the heart and is therapeutic for the soul.
Outside, the dreamy feeling is interrupted only by the chirping of birds in the foliage there and the momentary whisper of machinery and man.
Indeed, man has the ability to transform stone, rock, pebble, metal, wood, water, cement and soil into contagious beauty.
Shockingly, we are reminded of man’s ability to shape his world through belief and skill. This was made possible by a workforce of 135 Chinese experts and 350 Zimbabwean citizens.
If not for the Covid-19 induced delays, which saw the workforce at the site reduced in line with World Health Organization guidelines to curb the spread of the highly contagious virus, the new Parliament building would have been completed in April last year.
The existing Parliament building opposite Africa Unity Square was converted from a hotel that went bankrupt in the 1890s and was bought at a bargain price by the administrator of the British South Africa Company (BSAC).
The space has since become insufficient for the current 350 legislators (including the Senate and the National Assembly) and the 248 secretariat staff, when it was planned for 100 representatives.
The precinct of the new site’s proximity to Harare and its geographical surroundings provide opportunities for growth and offer Zimbabwe a chance to define itself as a nation through a local plan rich with broad perspectives for all citizens spanning the range. of human effort.
About 18,863 hectares have been set aside for the proposed new town, a three-tier site adjoining the rural district councils of Mazowe and Zvimba and the city of Harare.
The planned highway that will lead to the new Parliament building already has a name. It is called Chairman Mao Boulevard, in honor of a great friend from Zimbabwe.
The nearby Zimbabwe National Defense University will be part of the new city, it is planned.
New transport links will include high-performance trains and an upgrade to nearby Charles Prince Airport.
Some of the key structures to be incorporated into the design of the new city are office parks, commercial entities, high-tech park, information and communication technology center park, institutional facilities, structures agribusinesses, hotels, a conference center, a golf course, apartments, townhouses and garden apartments, low-density residential homes, civic center gaming sanctuary, botanical garden, waste-to-energy center, roads and green buffers.
MPs hailed their new Parliament building saying it will enrich the quality of debates given the spacious nature and additional facilities available.
MP for Guruve Sud, Cde Patrick Dutiro (Zanu PF), said the new parliament building will bring huge benefits. The building was a gift from China.
“There is going to be more space and more facilities even in times of pandemic like Covid 19. The current parliament building inhibits quality debates as MPs would be crammed in, one cannot concentrate during debates as the next person might fidget and make noise unnecessarily.”
Mashonaland West Legislative Representative Cde Goodluck Jonathan (Zanu PF) said the new parliament building was good and healthy, especially for women.
“The current building has no facilities for women, especially breastfeeding ones. We had improvised a room but it was small. The new parliament building will have more facilities for us. It also has a better library which will enable us to seek out and deliver quality debates for the good and benefit of the nation,” said Cde Kwaramba.
“We will now be seated more comfortably in the new Parliament building as there is more space. This will allow us to observe social distancing, which was difficult to observe in the current Parliament building, which forced us to meet virtually.”
Ms. Sibusisiwe Bhudha-Masara (MDC-A), a member of the Zimbabwe Women’s Parliamentary Caucus, hailed the new parliament building saying it will bring more comfort.
“We strive to integrate well in our workforce with the current parliament building. This is particularly the case on important days in the parliamentary calendar such as the State of the Nation address and the presentation of the national budget,” she said.
MP for Shurugwi South, Cde Edmond Mkaratigwa (Zanu PF) said he was excited about the new parliament building and that it would improve the quality of plenary and committee debates.