Dokora: When the heavens stop smiling

HARARE - When you eat your way through eastern Asia, as so many food lovers want to do, you end up spoilt by dishes that burst with flavour.

There is a depth that seems almost supernatural — the sweet is somehow sweeter, the sour sharper, and the savoury —  flavours are far more intense.

Then you come back home to Africa with an addiction to those Chinese curries from Beijing and simple chicken and rice plates from their streets and you break down and hit your favourite Chinese chicken spot, just ordering the plate makes you salivate.

But when it arrives and you tuck in, there is something off.

Many things in fact — those intense chicken flavours are missing their edge or that Beijing curry is all bark and lacks the bite.

It is still good, but it no longer matches the hallowed cookery mountaintops you reached when you were in the east.

Former Primary and Secondary Education minister Lazarus Dokora must be one man that could relate perfectly with this analogy, for from those lofty mountaintops of power in which he has been perambulating for the past decade, he has humbly disembarked.

Or he was radically taken down the mountain gradient.

Two days after new president Emmerson Mnangagwa drew public indignation when he purported to have retained him, he was dropped from the Cabinet list in humiliating fashion.

And to make it taste even bitterer, he was replaced by his deputy, Paul Mavhima.

Now the man who championed Zimbabwe’s controversial education curriculum review, some of whose aspects have now been scheduled for shelving, is out in the cold; with no position in Zanu PF.

Out of Parliament and out of employment, he has, for now, joined the long list of Zimbabwe’s jobless.

For how long, this will depend on how marketable he is on the job market.

Not that Dokora is new to the life of plodding in the political backwaters; he has been in and out of Parliament since the heavens first smiled on him in the year 2000.

In 2000, he abandoned his lecturing job at the University of Zimbabwe and contested for the Rushinga parliamentary seat in Mashonaland Central province, which he won with a resounding 20 027 votes, his closest competitor, Joel Mugariri of the MDC garnering just  2 438 votes.

He lost the seat five years later to the late Sandra Machirori, whose victory was even sweeter with 22 494 votes.

But he was not going to be out in the cold for too long as, just 16 months later, Machirori passed on, necessitating a by-election which he contested and won.

This victory marked the start of his dramatic shift in fortune.

Just two months later, former president Robert Mugabe appointed him deputy minister of Education, Sport and Culture.

This writer vividly remembers an incident which took place at Rushinga Business Centre on the day that Dokora’s appointment was announced.

The announcement came when he was attending a meeting at the bustling business centre which this writer had the privilege to cover as part of his work routine.

It was in January, 2007.

The caller had said Dokora was required the following morning at State House where he had to take oath of office before resuming duties, and, being so many miles away from the capital, he had to make the journey immediately.

But there was one big problem; he had no car.

Parliament had delayed to issue him an official vehicle.

Someone from the crowd claiming to be knowledgeable randomly exclaimed that the one he had been allocated six years earlier when he first became MP had been reduced to a ramshackle non-runner  by the unforgiving roads in his cut out constituency and auto mechanics were struggling to fix it.

(A few days later, the car — a Mazda SDX truck — was driven into Madziwa Teachers College, bringing Dokora to a farewell party of renowned Geography author, Wilson Shumbayawonda, who was retiring from lecturing. Somehow the mechanics had worked a miracle).

Those days, very few vehicles travelled to Harare from there and one had to be very early to catch the few conventional buses that braved the poor roads.

Lo and behold, as solutions were being suggested as to how the newest minister was to be ferried to Harare, a villager came running with a suggestion.

A Zimbabwe United Passenger Company (Zupco) bus would be passing through Rushinga on its way to Harare, thanks to a breakdown which had caused it to miss its timetable.

It was agreed that he would be put on the bus, upon whose arrival Dokora was still to give a speech as a local legislator.

This meant the bus had to stop and wait for him to finish his business.

When he was finally done, he made for the bus, only to discover that it was full to capacity with some passengers standing in the aisle.

It meant that an unfortunate passenger had to vacate his seat for the minister.

Now back in the cold and plotting his next move, Dokora is surely one man upon whom the heavens have stopped smiling.

Maybe, he could consider re-joining the academia which he had served for many years before the appetite for power, fortune and influence saw him pursue politics.

His roots in the academia are planted firmly.

Dokora started off as a classroom teacher in Zimbabwe.

He taught at both Ordinary and Advanced Level before he transferred from the school system in 1982 to Seke Teachers’ Training College where he remained for the next four years.

In 1986, he was then assigned on a mission to Cuba under the Zimbabwe-Cuba technical cooperation programme.

The programme unfolded for the next ten years.

The technical cooperation produced some 3 000 science teachers with Bachelor’s degrees in Mathematics, Biology, Chemistry, Geography and Physics.

Dokora worked as an academic coordinator at the Filial University de Manuel de Cespedes, Isle of Youth, Cuba.

Eventually, he became the director of the programme succeeding the first director, Fabian Pesanayi.

On his return to Zimbabwe in 1996, Dokora joined the University of Zimbabwe as a lecturer.

He also worked with the team that set out to establish Vocational Training Centres across the country.

He earned his Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) from the University of Zimbabwe.

Comments (1)

Dokora was one of the hardest working Ministers. He will do well, elsewhere

Observer - 9 January 2018

Post a comment

Readers are kindly requested to refrain from using abusive, vulgar, racist, tribalistic, sexist, discriminatory and hurtful language when posting their comments on the Daily News website.
Those who transgress this civilised etiquette will be barred from contributing to our online discussions.
- Editor

Your email address will not be shared.