MBERENGWA East legislator Marko Raidza (Zanu PF) reportedly teamed up with party activists and disrupted a prize-giving ceremony at a local primary school on December 4, where businessman Comings Hove, whom he suspects to be eyeing his parliamentary seat, was guest of honour.
Hove participated in the Mberengwa East parliamentary elections on an MDC ticket in 2013 and lost the polls. He then took a sabbatical from politics and now concentrates on his surgeries in Harare and cattle ranching in Midlands.
This prompted Norton MP Temba Mliswa on Wednesday to request that Parliament investigates Raidza.
Teachers and villagers from Nhenga who spoke to Southern Eye said the MP stood in the way of development.
“It was an ugly scenario. The school authorities had invited Hove to be guest of honour as he is a respected person in the community. On the day of the ceremony, Hove brought with him a truck-load of gifts for winning pupils, which included books, rulers, T-shirts, satchels, sportswear as well as food hampers for teachers and vulnerable parents,” said a senior teacher at the school who refused to be named for fear of victimisation.
“However, we were shocked to see MP Raidza storming the school in the company of Zanu PF activists and declaring that Hove should leave the school and stopped him from delivering his speech and handing over his gifts. Out of fear, the school authorities complied and the function proceeded as a damp squib. The teachers were warned by Raidza not to allow anyone to officiate at any function and ordered Zanu PF activists to monitor the school.”
Another villager said: “The teachers would have also had their morale boosted ahead of Christmas since they get meagre salaries. On the other hand, the gifts for pupils and food hampers for poor villagers would have left a positive mark in the community in these hard times.”
Progressive Teachers Union of Zimbabwe president Takavafira Zhou said his organisation received distress calls from its members at the school.
“As PTUZ, we want to remind the ill-informed MP that schools are institutions of teaching and learning and not for political expediency. He must also be reminded that schools are politics-free zones and he must never smuggle Zanu PF branch chairpersons into the running of schools,” he said.
“Schools are free to invite guests of honour of their choices at their functions, and the MP has no right to disparage, humiliate officials and stop assistance earmarked to benefit schools in one way or another.”
Raidza defended his action saying he was playing his “oversight role”.
“We are MPs and we must play our oversight role. We cannot allow anyone to just come into the schools and do what they want, otherwise thugs will also get access. As an MP, I have the right to protect the interests of people who voted for me and even the children too. The children must be protected from undesirable people,” he said.
Hove said: “I can confirm that I was blocked from participating at a function at one of our schools. I was sincere and also wanted to plough back into my community through some donations like I always do. I had no political agenda or ambitions.”
Mliswa raised the issue as a matter of priviledge to the deputy Speaker of the National Assembly Tsitsi Gezi.
“There is a report circulating on social media in terms of Raidza’s behaviour of disrupting a prize-giving day at a school because he believes that he must be present at every prize-giving day in his constituency — and I think we also had a similar case with Chiredzi West MP Augustine Musikavanhu (Zanu PF),” Mliswa said.
“With due respect, we are MPs and we work with everyone and I think we cannot interfere with the education sector which is quite sensitive and we must respect the civil servants who are working tirelessly for this country.
“As a result, I would like you Madam Speaker to investigate that matter. If so, you need to really give a stern warning to all MPs because you cannot be political. We are political when we are campaigning and after that we work with everybody in the constituency.”
Gezi responded: “On the issue of Hon Raidza, I think we all now know that social media is not something which we can trust, but I will make some investigations.”