Zvamaida Murwira, Harare Bureau
PRESIDENT Mnangagwa yesterday said time has come to vote out corrupt opposition councillors whose parties have not only run down local authorities but are puppets of Western countries that want to remove the Zanu-PF Government by inflicting pain on Zimbabweans.
This comes as the country is preparing for next year’s harmonised elections albeit with renewed attention on Zimbabwe by Western countries, some of which are openly interfering in the country’s domestic affairs in contravention of both local and international statutes.
President Mnangagwa said opposition councillors have ruined the legacy of quality and reliable services that was left by former councillors like the late Minister of State for Harare Provincial Affairs and Devolution, Cde Oliver Chidawu, who presided over affairs of the capital city in the 1980s earning Harare the nickname “Sunshine City”.
But now the sunshine is gone, with garbage going for weeks on end without being collected, rivulets of sewage flowing freely while the opposition councillors line their pockets with reckless abandon.
However, the electorate has a chance next year to kick out the thieving opposition councillors and vote Zanu-PF representatives whose Government has since intervened to save cities from collapse.
Speaking at the burial of Cde Chidawu at the National Heroes Acre yesterday, the President said the electorate should make sure they stop erstwhile colonisers in their tracks.
In his eulogy, President Mnangagwa said Cde Chidawu became mayor of Harare at the youthful age of 30 and saw his visionary leadership transforming the capital city to earn the accolade “Sunshine City” for providing quality services.
“It is most unfortunate that the achievements and legacy of the likes of the late Engineer Chidawu have been ruined by the current crop of City of Harare Councillors.
“These opportunists have no affinity to improve the quality of life of our people and instead continue to abuse their public positions for personal expediency. This trend should not be allowed into the future,” he said.
“Residents in our urban areas must take back their power by voting for men and women with vision, ingenuity, and an unwavering passion for service in public office. The current rot in Harare and other local authorities, under opposition parties, must be brought to an end.”
President Mnangagwa said next year’s harmonised elections presented an opportunity to remove the opposition councillors.
“The 2023 harmonised general elections present a yawning opportunity for ratepayers to correct the misnomer of having rogue and insensitive characters running our urban councils.
“Residents are challenged to end the decadence within our urban local authorities by voting for Zanu-PF men and women who are firmly rooted in the people-centred ethos of our colossal mass revolutionary party,” he said.
President Mnangagwa urged Zimbabweans to resist machinations by Western capitals to impose puppet Governments in the country.
“Zimbabwe continues to face attacks by our perennial detractors. However, we will never give in to their machinations and heinous quest to establish a puppet regime in our country. No matter the suffering they may try to inflict on our people, our independence is not for sale; our freedom is not for sale; our sovereignty is not for sale; our democracy, patriotism, and dignity, as well as institutions and heritage, are not for sale!
“Let those with ears, hear us loud and clear. We are a peaceful and united country,” he said.
“Violence of any form or kind is not acceptable in Zimbabwe. The blood of the sons and daughters of this great country remains imprinted in our memories. The brutal war we waged to break free from the chains of colonialism and our rich liberation war heritage reminds us that none but ourselves are responsible for our future and destiny.
“Therefore, today and into the future, we are forging ahead brick by brick, stone upon stone, and step by step towards delivering a better Zimbabwe for all, guided by our national Vision 2030.”
Following the advent of the Second Republic, President Mnangagwa said he appointed Cde Chidawu as minister responsible for Harare Metropolitan province after realising that the city was in need of a mature, hardworking, and visionary leader to help transform and return stability to the capital city.
He said during Cde Chidawu’s tenure, the New City Master Plan in Mount Hampden began to be rolled out, culminating in him touring a state-of-the-art new Parliament building just last week after its completion.
The President also officiated at the ground-breaking ceremony for the construction of the Zimbabwe Cyber City by Mulk Holdings International.
He said it was unfortunate that Cde Chidawu will not be able to see through these milestones.
“The implementation of the New City Master Plan is set to breathe new economic lifelines in Harare and the national economy as a whole. I, thus, call upon the Harare City Council to ride on these developments to accelerate their vision for Harare to achieve “World Class City Status by 2025,” said President Mnangagwa.
“I further challenge those serving in our local authorities to implement their respective programmes and projects always guided by the national interest and our collective quest to lift many of our people out of poverty, into prosperity.”
He implored Zimbabweans including those in the diaspora to take advantage of the prevailing ease of doing business environment to grow successful businesses across all sectors of the economy.
“Equally, you must conduct business endeavours in a manner that uplifts and improves the lives of all the people of our country. My Government stands ready to facilitate the setting up of businesses, entrepreneurial ventures and start-ups that produce goods and services in line with our ‘Made in Zimbabwe, Buy Zimbabwe and Build Zimbabwe’ initiative,” the President said.
Turning to the death of Cde Chidawu, President Mnangagwa said he was shocked by the sudden demise given that they were together on the eve of his death at the National Gallery where there was a celebration of the return and exhibition of the “Stars are Bright” art collection.
“Unbeknown to me, it was the last time that I would see the soft-spoken Cde Chidawu. He faithfully served his country right until a few hours before he left this world, to the next life, to be with those who have gone before him,” he said.
President Mnangagwa said the nation had been robbed of a practical, intelligent, unassuming, business champion and hard-working man.
“He not only built a vast business empire, in sectors that have driven the national economy, but also contributed, immensely, to the strategic growth of many entities in both the private and public sectors. In most cases, he rose to become the lead figure in the corporate governance structures of these enterprises,” he said.
He said Cde Chidawu was part of a crop of young cadres in the early years of the country’s independence conscious of the fact that political independence was incomplete without the economic emancipation of the black majority.
“As such, the late Cde Chidawu was identified together with his like-minded colleagues to become part of the front runners in the post-independence struggle to reclaim and indigenise the national economy. He performed beyond expectation and became a true champion of black economic empowerment and emancipation,” President Mnangagwa said.
The late national hero used his professional qualifications in engineering and business to establish companies in the financial, mining and construction sectors.
Some of the entities he helped to establish include the African Banking Corporation, which later became Bank ABC listed on the Botswana and Zimbabwe Stock Exchanges.
Others include Starafrica Corporation, Zimplow, Pelhams, Heritage Insurance Company of Zimbabwe, PG Industries, Bindura Nickel Corporation, Kuchi Construction, Bitumen Construction Services and Rowdrix Group either as chairperson or board member.
“In spite of the spread of the business footprints of the late Cde Chidawu on the economic landscape of our country, he never abused his positions or used the companies he was associated with to arm-twist or manipulate our socioeconomic environment for his own personal gain. He was a dependable and trustworthy businessman,” President Mnangagwa said.
“The spirit of the philosophy, ‘Nyika ino vakwa nevene vayo’ inspired the generation of the likes of this national hero we are laying to rest today. The flame must never die.”
He said the country needed more men and women willing to avail their skills and positions for the realisation of development that leaves no one and no place behind.
Born in Chivhu, Masinire Village under Chief Mutengwa on August 9, 1954, Cde Chidawu did his primary and secondary education in Ntabazinduna, Bulawayo and St Faith Mudoti in Chikomba district before proceeding to study for a Higher National Diploma in Electrical Engineering, through the London City and Guilds where he trained as a Telecommunications Engineer with the then Post and Telecommunications Company.
Between 1979 and 1982, he worked as a Signals Engineer for the National Railways of Zimbabwe responsible for the design and implementation of electrical and signalling projects.
He was later elected Councillor for Kambuzuma and Deputy Mayor of Harare from 1983 to 1984 before he became Mayor of Harare at the age of 30 in 1985.
During his service in the City of Harare, up to 1990, the late Cde Chidawu worked as the Project Manager for the Zimbabwe Electricity Supply Authority, where he managed power development projects and procurement systems.
Due to his appetite to always improve himself and his interest in business and commerce, he later studied for a Bachelor of Commerce Degree from 1990 to 1994.
He was admitted to several professional associations, including Chartered Electrical Engineers; Member of the Zimbabwe Institute of Engineers; Fellow of the Zimbabwe Institute of Engineers and Founding Member and later President of the Zimbabwe Building Contractors Association.
He held several portfolios in the revolutionary Zanu-PF, both at the provincial and national levels.
Between 1990 and 2000, he served as the Zanu-PF Member of Parliament for Kambuzuma Constituency, and at the time of his death, he was the Senator for Harare Metropolitan Province.