By Criswell Chisango
HURUNGWE– Villagers in Hurungwe West are witnessing accelerated developmental projects ahead of 10 June by elections pitting former Zanu (PF) provincial chairman Temba Mliswa and ruling party candidate Keith Guzah.
Among the villagers is seventy five year old Chamunorwa Matanga under headman Duster Dzorani who relied on water from Musukwe river as the one drilled in 1960 broke down twenty years ago.
‘’It is like a dream that we are now getting water from a borehole drilled last month. The old one that was broken for two decades was rehabilitated as well. We never thought our Government had any developmental plans as they had forgotten us for too long.’’ says Matanga grateful on the gesture by Zanu (PF) government.
The village situated about 65 kilometers west of Karoi town is among remote areas within the constituency regarded as among the poorest in the district.
He adds, ‘’We hope they will consider building a clinic nearby as one at Zvipani is fifteen kilometers away. We are desperate here’’
Some villagers at Nyadara business centre can hardly hide their happiness after a 25 kilometer road linking Nyadara and Murota was graded recently.
According to villagers here, nine graders from as far as Bindura, Chegutu are crisscrossing Hurungwe West in last minute bid by Zanu (PF) to woe voters and wrestle the seat from independent candidate Mliswa in a ‘’dog fight’’ igniting cosmetic development here.
Senior party officials including secretary for administration Ignatius Chombo, national commissar Saviour Kasukuwere among others are literally camped in the constituency to drum up support for Guzah as they hold weekly rallies with the villagers.
‘’We are happy that besides the road upgrading, bore drilling, electricity will be installed at schools after Government reintroduced Rural Electrification program here’’ says a civil servant speaking on condition that he is not named.
‘’No one is free to speak his mind although we were not happy with the decision to expel Mliswa. Everyone has literally been shut out to say anything good about him. He is now an outcast. Some unknown people are using classes as guest rooms affecting lesson for pupils’’, she adds. says a civil servant at Nyadara who declines to be named for fear of victimization.
The constituency under Chief Nyamhunga is now a ‘’political hot bed’’ where villagers, civil servants and traditional leaders are not at liberty to speak to strangers especially those asking ‘’political updates’’ ahead of 10 June by-elections.
Party sources and villagers say besides violence gripping the constituency much is needed on health, educational, and water and sanitation facilities as it is within malaria prone zone area.
They are two clinics at Sengwe and Zvipani as villagers rely on ambulance from Magunje referral hospital
Another village at Zvipani adds, ‘’Mliswa facilitated upgrading of the road from Magunje that links Sengwe via Karambazungu that was neglected for decades. He also assisted renovations of Chiedza clinic between Magororo and Rengwe though it is yet to be officially opened. He is a politician who knew the electorate’s plight and we are grateful’’
At Magororo business centre, Gogo Mapofu says Mliswa kept updating the electorate.
She claims the vocal MP had ears on the ground and was ever present for the elderly.
‘’Mliswa was always here to talk to people.This young man was always very helpful to us” says Gogo Mapofu in her late 60s.
Zanu (PF) imposition
However some party insiders claim the Zanu (PF) imposition of Guzah is not peculiar as late Robson Manyika and late Enos Nkala were first two Members of Parliament after independence.
‘’We are victims of Zanu PF imposition as they introduced Mliswa to us and we have seen developmental initiatives, they no longer want him and we are called rebels. We never wanted Guzah and they imposed him on us. We are being despised by the same people who want our vote’’ complains a district member speaking on condition that he is not named.
Mliswa who has a traditional homestead at Mashuma village was sidelined by Zanu PF party in 2008 when Zanu PF ‘’imposed’’ Stella Bhoni claiming the constituency was reserved for woman candidate.
However, former Movement for Democratic Change Member of Parliament Severino Tall Chambati admits Mliswa brought progress in the constituency.
‘’Mliswa upgraded Magunje-Sengwe road as a priority for the villagers here. He never lost hope after Zanu (PF) party sidelined him ahead of 2008 elections’’, Chambati says.
‘’Mliswa left tangible evidence that he was working for the community. During his short term of office, he was updating electorate. He made the electorate feel to be part of Zanu PF politics even when he differed with the leadership, the constituency remained informed that he was fighting for their rights to be informed ’’ says Chambati who contested and lost as an independent in 2013 general elections.
Chambati bemoans ‘’Zanu PF deception on development saying, ‘’No one will see as genuine development as after election it will take decades before we talk of meaningful development here’’
Ironically villagers here are enduring public scorn by senior Zanu PF officials including Chombo and Central Committee member Phillip Chiyangwa calling them ‘’backward and entrenched in opposition politics’’ after they voted for Chambati.
He lost his brother Milton who was brutally killed by Zanu PF supporters in 2001 at Magunje growth point.
As the election fever grips Hurungwe and other parts of the country ahead of 10 June by election, the question remains, ‘’will cosmetic development by Zanu PF government last forever’’.
For Matanga and thousands of villagers here hope is pinned that the dream will remain a reality.
‘’We hope development will not come during elections only and from there, we are forgotten forever’’ he concludes.