Gutu Rural District Council led by its chairman, Nicholas Zambara has flatly refused Nelson Chamisa the MDC A president the chance to build a boarding school and a hospital in his home area in Ward 23 in Chiwara.
Gutu South has 10 secondary schools and one boarding (Mukaro High) and the majority of children in the constituency walk 17km to school every day. They leave home at 4 in the morning and get back at 8pm. The only other boarding in the constituency is Sandon Academy, an expensive private school owned by Zanu PF national secretary for security, Lovemore Matuke.
Gutu South which is one of the most populous constituencies in the country has no referral hospital and villagers hike 70km to Masvingo and the situation is exacerbated by the absence of ambulances.
Debate almost degenerated into a fistfight during a full council meeting on Thursday when Zambara claimed that villagers in Chiwara had rejected the idea of the school and hospital.
He was supported in his assertions by Gutu acting District Development Coordinator Chiedza Tafirei. He alleged that the villagers had told him that the school and hospital will take away a lot of their land. The exchanges became so harsh that Zambara threatened to eject Ward 33 Councilor Benard Chimwango who supported the project out of the meeting.
However, some councillors would have none of it telling Zambara that he was placing Zanu PF politics ahead of the welfare of the very same people he was elected to serve in council. They said that looking a gift horse in the mouth and serving narrow personal interests has been the bad politics of Zanu PF that has left Zimbabwe as one of the World’s poorest countries.
The fierce debate forced the matter to be taken back to the Road Works and Planning Committee before it comes back to full council at the next meeting.
The school and hospital project is supposed to carried out in Chamisa’s home village.
Efforts to get a comment from Zambara were futile. Gutu Rural District Council Chief Executive Officer Alexander Mtembwa confirmed the matter and refuted allegations that he supported partisan agenda during the meeting.
The proposal for the school was brought by Ward 23 councilor Charles Mannie. Those who vehemently fought against the idea of a new school were identified as Zambara, Chief Masanganise, Gutu South MP Yeukai Simbanegavi’s husband and Community Services head of department Thomas Muparamoto and Town Board appointed member Buster Mafio.
Chimwango urged Mtembwa to remain professional in council business and stop being partisan and siding with Zanu PF agenda. Chimwango said it was unfortunate that development in Zimbabwe is only accepted if it comes through Zanu PF. He said Zanu PF bigwigs have been allowed to build structures even in wetlands but the party denies other people to start projects that benefit the community.
“Zambara who is a retired teacher led the offensive and said council is not approving the building of schools. He misrepresented the people of Chiwara by telling council that they don’t want a school,” said Chimwango. According to the Ministry of Education Zimbabwe is far short of schools with the teacher per pupil ratio being one of the highest in the world. There is always a scramble for boarding schools for children from the middle class with thousands of pupils resorting to hot-sitting in the urban areas.
Ward 34 Councilor Wickliff Matindike, Chimwango, Mannie, Chief Chitsa and Chief Serima supported the approval of the project.