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Forgotten Mudzi cries out

Forgotten Mudzi cries out

Clemence Manyukwe 11 Jul 2013
jonathan samkange a

Jonathan Samkange

TAKESURE Temba is familiar with illegal crossing points into Mozambique from the Zimbabwean side. He lives in Mudzi South, a constituency wedged between the Zimbabwe-Mozambique border, Mudzi North and Manicaland’s Nyanga North.
On either side of the constituency, Mudzi and Rwenya rivers mark its boundary as they head east into Mozambique.
This is an area inhabited by the Buja and Toko Tonga people, some of whom have done all they could to cling to their culture although the weight of foreign influences is taking its toll.
Temba said relatives bearing different nationalities live on either side of the Zimbabwe-Mozambique border and, like true African nomads, they do not need any documentation to cross the porous boundary. One only needs to go through Nyamapanda Border Post if their junket is of a business nature, he added.“This fresh breeze is coming from Karera Mountain which is on the Mozambican side of the border,” he said while pointing to a mountain located less than 20 kilometres from Mudzi South’s Goromonzi Secondary School.
The school is a far cry from its famed namesake — Goromonzi High School — located further inland in Goromonzi District which has churned out some of the country’s top politicians like Finance Minister Tendai Biti and Justice and Legal Affairs Minister Patrick Chinamasa as well as other luminaries such as the late Sarah Kachingwe, the first black woman to go to the University of Zimbabwe and the first woman chairperson of the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission, Justice Rita Makarau.
This one is a different Goromonzi, where a first time visitor might be forgiven for thinking that he or she has strayed into the remote parts of Mozambique.
Here, the constituency has never received State television or radio signals since independence and only Radio Zimbabwe started broadcasting to the area in January this year. But again its signal is intermittent and unreliable.
Mudzi South bore the brunt of the liberation struggle due to its proximity to Mozambique where the country’s liberation fighters were based and has little, if anything, to show for being one of the first liberated zones.
“There are water problems here and in 2008 some people died of cholera especially in areas like Gozi. Up to now, sometimes children miss school lessons as they would be helping their teachers to fetch water. Some of the deep wells have dried up and boreholes need repairs,” said Temba who was born in the area 47 years ago.
“Here the education system is down in this modern age. Some of the teachers are not trained. I think one of our chances was lost on the Constituency Development Fund (CDF). It could have been used to transform this place.”
Temba said there was no tangible development witnessed as a result of the utilisation of the CDF and problems have worsened over the years.
The roads are in bad shape and new bridges are needed. The old bridge there needs repairs while in other areas further south of the constituency the bridges are now beyond repair.
A major 200 metre bridge over Rwenya River linking the constituency to Nyanga North was late last year washed away by heavy rains and no one knows when it will   be replaced.
The Buja people of Mudzi and Mutoko districts have a reputation for being some of the best tomato and mango growers in Zimbabwe and Mbare Musika is their main market for tomatoes.
Of late maize, beans and tobacco have been added to the list of their produce.
But the bad roads are eating into their profits as most transporters shun their routes, with the laws of economics effectively taking root where prices rise when demand outstrips supply.
Amid that despondency, Temba feels that his community’s rights were somehow being trampled upon. As examples, he points first to the failure to officially preserve his minority Buja language and secondly the absence of any tangible efforts for Mudzi district to benefit from minerals in its midst such as granite rocks and gold.
“I would want my children to learn Buja. If you socialise in one language it would be difficult to communicate. Teachers here do not speak Buja and it is not taught in schools, yet that is our language,” Temba added.
He, however, hoped that the forthcoming polls would give the constituency a lawmaker who would spearhead developmental issues as successive ZANU-PF lawmakers since independence have not lived up to their promises.
Three individuals are vying for the Mudzi South constituency; ZANU-PF’s Eric Navaya is seeking a second term, MDC-T’s Milton Kanomakuyu and lawyer Jonathan Samkange who is running as an independent after he was disqualified from participating in ZANU-PF primaries.
Last Saturday, one of these aspiring lawmakers, Samkange, held a rally in the area where he told the crowd that if elected, one of the things he would push for is accountability on how their CDF funds were used.
Samkange said most ZANU-PF politicians in Mashonaland East were uneducated and greedy so they threw spanners on his way as they were afraid of being eclipsed.
He added that he had received reports of threats against his backers, adding that verbal abuse was a form of violence and people should report it to the police. He said he was prepared to seek protection orders for all people who were being victimised to ensure a free and fair poll in the area.
“I live here but I don’t know where the CDF went. There is a time when we shall demand it,” he added.
Last year, up to five lawmakers were arrested by the Zimbabwe Anti–Corruption Commission for the abuse of the constituency funds, but Attorney General Johannes Tomana halted any further arrests. It now appears that the lawmakers are now off the hook following the dissolution of Parliament.
Samkange believes it is still possible to develop the district through leveraging on the area’s resources, inviting donors and investors among others.
“A German Non Governmental Organisation provided US$43 million for the construction of a bridge here, but ZANU-PF politicians barred the construction saying Samkange is not a Member of Parliament,” he told the crowd.
With close to three weeks to go for the people of this rundown dustbowl to decide on their representative, whether whoever wins the seat would be true to his promises is a matter to ponder on another day.