via Zim’s 8th Parly: The good, the bad and the ugly | The Zimbabwean by Adrian Mutigwe
Our new Parliament promises the nation lots of drama and comedy. Beyond that, nothing substantial is in the offing as the Zanu (PF) majority shall be expected by the Executive to toe the line – rather than fulfil the legislature’s proper oversight role.
The dominant characters range from the comical to the aged; from those dusted from the political wilderness to the urbane; from school drop outs to academics and professionals.
Fronted by Joseph Chinotimba, a former municipal night watchman, and Sarah Mahoka, a self-confessed primary school drop-out, Parliament now accommodates resuscitated party die-hards, Chenhamo Chakezha Chimutengwende, Shuvai Mahofa and many others.
Chinotimba of Buhera South has a chequered history of violence and intimidation which climaxed in 2000 when he led the chaotic farm invasions.
On the day he was sworn-in, he quickly set the ball rolling by telling journalists that one of his priorities was to lobby for an anti-heckling rule in the House.
“When we are in Parliament, shouting has come to an end,” he said. “I will be the first to introduce a ‘law’ on anybody who does that. (We should have a) by-election quick. All that shouting, wowowowo should stop and anybody breaks that ‘law’ we should declare their constituency vacant.”
Mliswa, a former fitness trainer, has a fiery temper. His history is replete with stories of his direct involvement in violent take-overs of commercial farms in Mashonaland West. Another elementary school drop-out, now a law maker, is Masango Matambanadzo of Kwekwe. Known as Blackman in Zanu (PF) circles, Masango has close links to Defence Minister Emmerson Mnangagwa.
“A lot has been said about my educational qualifications,” said Masango. “I say I am educated; I went to school, I did my Grade One, then Grade 2 and stopped there. But I know what the people want and how to do it.”
Luke Masamvu is the new representative for Mutasa North, Manicaland. He is a member of the Johane Marange Apostolic Faith sect and has 10 wives.
Reports say he was once investigated for harbouring paedophiles. Of interest is how he would debate issues related to health, education, women and children given that the sect shuns modern medicine, education beyond primary school for the girl child and immunisation. The sect is also notorious for blessing marriages to under-age girls.
Back into the legislature after a forced “sabbatical leave” are July Moyo, a victim of the infamous Tsholotsho Declaration in 2004, and former government ministers Chemutengwende and Mahofa.
Chemutengwende led a quiet life after he lost his Mazowe seat in 2008 to the MDC-T but Mahofa was extremely busy in the Save Conservancy, trying out a new career as a wildlife farmer. She made a poor start though, as she was constantly fingered in poaching syndicates and accused of destroying the once vibrant hunters’ paradise. She is a member of conservancy invaders, all senior Zanu (PF) officials, who call themselves the Masvingo 37.
When asked about the abundant quantities of game meat in her butchery in Gutu a few months ago, she retorted: “I have to make money from our natural resources”.
David Butau of Mbire, Mashonaland Central, fled to the United Kingdom to avoid arrest in 2007 at the height of the higher-inflationary era after police expressed an interest in interviewing him in connection with some shady deals.
He denied any wrongdoing, stating that he had been motivated by fear of police corruption. He returned to stand trial in March 2009, before the prosecution dropped all charges.
The melting pot
Mbare legislator, Tendai Savanhu, is believed to be the power behind Mbare-based vigilante group, Chipangano, which has terrorised residents with impunity.
The list goes on, displaying a potpourri of characters from academics, lawyers, doctors, farmers, former domestic workers to journalists and artisans. Little can really be expected in the way of meaningful national direction, policy scrutiny and oversight.