Chiefs in Matabeleland South Province have abandoned prescribed development approaches and instead adopted community initiated economic empowerment processes for sustainable poverty eradication.

Matabeleland South is endowed with vast natural resources that are not being fully exploited for economic development and the majority of youths in the province are trooping to neighbouring countries in search of jobs.

Foreigners have of late swamped the province eager to have access to local resources such as the minerals and farming land to build their empires, while locals watch with no means to exploit these resources.

In most instances, the locals end up being recipients of food handouts from non-governmental organisations (NGOs).

However, all this is set to be a thing of the past as chiefs have teamed up with Homelink, a subsidiary of the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe, and the National University  of Science and Technology (NUST) to capacitate them on project identification and financing models for community development.

Officiating at a capacity building workshop for chiefs, Homelink Sales and Channels Manager, Mrs Sibusisiwe Mashoko said rural communities must be fully empowered to take charge of their development agenda using local resources.

She said Homelink is keen on financing rural projects and has chosen to work with chiefs who are dependable partners in development given their leadership role in communities.

NUST Vice Chancellor, Professor Mqhele Dlodlo said as a way of supporting communities in Matabeleland South province, they are offering technical services to the community on sustainable development using local resources.

Chief Masuku of Matshetsheni in Gwanda and Chief Sibasa of Silalabuhwa in Insiza concurred that their new approach to development is a turning point to rural development given the involvement of grassroots people from the onset.

They also expressed happiness in that the funding from Homelink is all encompassing to include medium term projects like livestock which is a dependable source of livelihood for many farmers.