Mnangagwa a shade in the garden: Holder

HARARE - Our News Editor Gift Phiri talks to Zvishavane-Ngezi Zanu PF MP John Holder.

Below are excerpts of the interview:

Q: Honourable Holder, I’m so sorry about the bus accident that claimed three of your constituents on Wednesday.

A: I would like to pay my condolences to those who lost their relatives in that accident.

Tombs Motorways is part of my family, it has always delivered, always on time, as you know for traffic it’s a jungle out there.

I heard that there was a truck. It hit the windscreen of the bus with some metal and the driver had pieces of glass going into his eyes, he screamed while trying to control the bus but lost control.

Q: And this was 4am!

A: Yes, it was 4am. As you know, there is a road between Mandamabwe and Shurugwi, the bridge was washed away and hasn’t been repaired, so...

Q: What are you doing about that?

A: We did speak to the minister of Infrastructure Obert Mpofu, they are working on something, I think they are looking at the budget in order for them to repair. So most of the traffic is now coming through Zvishavane, going to Shurugwi.

Q: The shutdown of SMM, critics say Zanu PF officials seized and vandalised that asbestos mine.

A: SMM is a very sore issue, it’s under judicial management and it’s also under (State-run) ZMDC which is trying to help.

Q: Do you think ZMDC is doing enough to rectify the situation and get the 5 000 workers back at work?

A: There is a lot of consultation that has been happening with the ministry in terms of market research, as you know asbestos was banned in South Africa, and because of lack of communication, things ended where Zvishavane is, where the mine has closed. So I hope once the market system is sorted out, the investor is found, the wrangle over ownership should be sorted out.

Q: Do you think ownership should revert to Mutumwa Mawere?

A: When Mutumwa Mawere was running, yes, he did owe a lot of people money but he paid his wages, and it is the community that we look at.

Q: Some people claim you are a staunch ally of vice president Emmerson Mnangagwa?

A: What do you mean? I am a member of Zanu PF. I follow what Zanu PF does. I will just be principled about that.

Q: You are not a key member of the Emmerson Mnangagwa faction?

A: There is no need, I don’t believe in factions. I believe in the party.

Q: But at the Zanu PF congress, you were vociferous in your support for Mnangagwa, you were singing “Ngwena iri kufamba pamusoro pemvura baba... (The crocodile is floating on the water)”, celebrating his elevation to the vice presidency?

A: When a person plants a mango tree, you water the mango tree in your yard, not your neighbour’s mango tree. So, at least now there is a tree, there is a shade I can go and sit under and get some fruits from that tree. In other words, honourable Emmerson Dambudzo Mnangagwa comes from Zvishavane.

Zvishavane is a great town, the chief secretary to the President Misheck Sibanda comes from Zvishavane, and the permanent secretary to the army Martin Rushwaya comes from Zvishavane. So Zvishavane comes up with great people, CG Msipa, he comes from Zvishavane, so we are not behind. We produce people who will be able to deliver and be able to take us to the Promised Land.

Q: Is this political representation bringing fruit to your area?

A: Basically, what happens is you practice what you preach. A good leader takes his people where they ought to go, not where they want to go, but where they ought to go. You have to be visionary and have faith in these people.

Q: Do you think Zvishavane is going where it ought to be given the shutdown of SMM?

A: If SMM begins operations, I bet you nine out of 10, it would be the industrial hub. I can say Zvishavane in terms of contribution to fiscus. A lot of the money comes from there; there is the Great Dyke?

Q: Do you think VP Mnangagwa will succeed the President?

A: Aaaaah! I have no comment there.

Q: There is a critical problem of water in Zvishavane.

A: Apparently, we have a problem with water because we are only drawing water from one source, which is the Ngezi River. Before, Zvishavane used to draw water from the Runde and the Ngezi rivers, there is a lot of vandalisation that takes place within the communal areas where the pipeline runs.

We are trying to rectify the situation, installing a lot of taps so that the pipes are not vandalised, so that people in the rural areas also have access to drinking water, the animals also have access to drinking water. As you know, Zvishavane is in (natural farming) regions 4 and 5. It’s prone to drought. You can see there is no food in that area, there is no rain, so we have to see where we can get help and that no one starves.

Q: What about economic activity, there is some investment in the retail sector coming in, there is OK building a big supermarket, fast food outlets coming in, there is Innscor, Chicken Inn has come in, do you think this economic activity has anything to do with Mimosa, because without Mimosa, Zvishavane would have been a ghost town, isn’t it?

A: Mimosa has done a lot for Zvishavane, it has brought life, and it has brought smiles. They come in with a lot of corporate social responsibility.

Q: I see they have renovated Mandava Stadium into a state-of-the art stadium.

A: I am glad they have stepped up, they partnered in so many ways, building of schools, repairing roads, and also if a person goes to work, he knows he has a plate of food on his table.

Q: There is a plague of prostitution in Zvishavane. How can this be addressed? Isn’t this a consequence of thinning of opportunities created by the shutdown of SMM?

A: Zvishavane is a distressed town, SMM is not running. People need to survive. We need to empower our youths, empower our communities.

Q: How do you suggest doing that?

A: There are so many programmes we have in place, You know Zvishavane is in region 4 and 5, it’s a mining town. I mean the small scale miners, there are a lot there.

We need to empower them with machinery, we need to empower them with equipment and I am glad that the government is coming up with that $100 million loan facility which is going to be released very soon.

Q: Are you getting any of the implements for your constituency?

A: I would like to facilitate at least three or four people from my constituency to benefit, that becomes a legacy.

Q: Do you think that’s enough?

A: It’s never enough. We are about 50 000 people and (of the) 50 000 it’s not all that will get. At least there is an effort, government is trying. There is no money in the country, you know the liquidity crunch, and at the end of the day, if they are doing this and it’s a little bit, at least we see there is an effort.

Q: What would you say are the key highlights of your tenure as Zvishavane MP?

A: Turning a beerhall into a school.

Q: Which beerhall?

A: George Chipadza which was Kandodo Beerhall, it’s now George Chipadza Secondary School. We got Shonhai Secondary School which we have initiated again.

We also have the community in Mapanzure where Zimasco had mined out all the chrome and has pulled out, but we have asked them to give tributes to the community so that they will be able to sustain themselves instead of leaving big holes in the area.

So there are a lot of programmes, there are programmes with food. In Shona we say ukama igasva, hunozadziswa nekudya (Lets bring food to the table), so if people are hungry, people will be mad, if people are full there is no problem.

Q: So are you mobilising food aid?

A: We received 30 tonnes of rice which I am busy trying to look for transport to carry to my constituency. I have 16 wards in my constituency. So I am gonna divide the 30 tonnes in 16 wards to also ensure the old people benefit, the vulnerable benefit, you know stuff like that.

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