Residents bid farewell to father Marondera, Phenius Chirwa

MARONDERA - Hundreds of residents here converged at Hunyani Cemetaries last Monday, to pay their last respects to the late chairperson of Marondera Residents Association, Phenius Chirwa (75) who succumbed to diabetes. Chirwa was popular for blocking Zanu (PF) Minister of Local Government, Ignatius Chombo from interfering with urban council affairs here.

Like a fowl protecting its chicks from vultures, Chirwa, confronted Chombo on several occasions including March 30 this year, when the Zanu (PF) minister descended on the town house to dismiss MDC-T councillors from office and replace them with losing Zanu (PF) former city fathers as special interest councillors.

Honorable Minister, accusations of mismanagement levelled against incumbent MDC-T councillors are neither here nor there but a dirty political smear campaign by members of your party, Zanu (PF), Chirwa had told off Chombo.

Despite their youthful age, MDC-T councillors are the best on the land and were tirelessly restoring order in a house messed up by ousted Zanu (PF) officials. As I speak service delivery sabotaged by members from your political party was restored. MDC city fathers were democratically elected into office and there was no way they could be relieved of their duties.

Losing Zanu (PF) councillors battling to have another life at town house were the very people who crippled service delivery during the past 30 years. They are not technocrats but total failures, he had added to the deafening applause from the audience.

His legal battle against Chombos imposition of Zanu (PF) losing councillors on residents is still pending in the courts.

Chirwa had his house along Chikomo Street, destroyed by Mugabes supporters in 1985 for resisting supporting the former liberation party. This was at a time when majority of the population idolised Mugabe as liberator of the country.

In the 2008 political violence, Chirwa was interrogated by Mugabes party officials and supporters why he supported MDC. Chirwa is said to have dismissed them and told them point blank that he was never going to support Zanu (PF). They left his home but threatened to return and discipline him.

Two weeks ago when striking Zanu (PF) council workers blew up water pumps Chirwa had told The Zimbabwean that residents would petition council to take disciplinary measures against saboteurs.

He had said the employees who sabotaged the water pumps at Nyambuya Dam were paid by rate payers money and for them to cripple services meant to benefit the community was a criminal act which should attract the full wrath of law.

He had planned a petition and demonstrations to force a positive response from council.

He said it was the duty of the residents association to act as a watchdog for residents and fight against council policies and practices likely to prejudice the rate payer.

He said city fathers should never take rate payers for granted because they had a right to quality service delivery.

Chirwa was also Major of The War Wing of his Salvation Army Church. This was in recognition of his sound and principled leadership qualities.

He was also MDC-T district secretary for agriculture and former Ward 7 Chairperson.

MDC-T and Salvation Army Church flags were hoisted side by side at the funeral and burial.

Mourners commented that both MDC and church hats fitted the late Chirwa well. Residents lamented the leadership loss and said it would be difficult to find another leader of Chirwas calibre.

Chengetai Murova, MDC-T Marondera district main chairperson, described Chirwas death as untimely and a big blow to residents of the town and MDC in particular.

Chirwa was a respected elder and district advisor endowed with exceptional leadership qualities. He was a quiet man with vision and stabilised the MDC ship. As MDC, we utilised his wisdom to harmonise relations among party members. We have lost a good man and his death would remain painful to the community.

Outside politics, residents across the political divide in dispute would consult Chirwa for mediation. He would adjudicate over issues without bias and come to an amicable solution. Marondera will never be the same without Chirwa, said a respected leader of Apostolic Churches and resident, Tonderai Chitaguda of Rujeko.

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