Shoko: man of the people, or Navara driver?

When he was elected MP in 2008 Misheck Shoko was driving a Mazda 323. But today he cruises with a sleek grey Nissan Navara through the dusty, potholed streets of Chitungwiza.

Most residents know Shoko as their mayor – who was unceremoniously dismissed by Local Government Minister Ignatius Chombo in 2002. Some know him as their current MP, while others would like to see him do more as their representative. But most people simply know him as the one who drives a Navara through rivers of sewage.

In Zimbabwe there is no clear distinction between central and local government matters. Many residents interviewed expect Shoko to end water and sewage problems – some of the commonest problems not only in his constituency, but right across this densely populated town and others around the country.

Residents say Shoko should carry out development projects that target the community so as to emancipate them from the jaws of poverty and to take away the sewage pong from their midst.

In his defence, Shoko said he had continued to be in touch with the people and had done something for them through his Constituency Development Fund.

“I have always been in touch with the people. For instance people in the community always come with water problems and I have taken the issue to the Minister of Water Resources SipepaNkomo and brought back to the people the minister’s response,” he said.

Shoko said he bought the Navara with the $25,000 MPs all received from government for their personal transport. He used his CDF to drill boreholes and provide computers for schools

Contrary to what some people in the constituency think, Shoko insisted that he was a man of the people. “I do not think that there is any MP in the country who is in touch with the people like me. I walk on foot in the streets interacting with the people.

But sometimes it is hard to satisfy everyone as some people may not appreciate what you are doing. Some people would expect me to buy beer but I do not drink and I will never buy anyone beer,” he said.

Some people were hostile to him because of the party he represents, added Shoko. “There are some people who have refused to receive me because they have people they expected to be MPs. However, I have always emphasized that MPs are for everyone and not for a single political party.

“I had challenges with the CDF with some people refusing to participate because I am an MDC MP. I also had a different problem with MDC supporters who wanted to have the CDF given only to them because I am an MDC MP,” he said.

What residents say

“I know Shoko and I voted for him in 2008 because I felt it was time to give him the chance that was taken from him when he was Mayor. But he has done little for us. Even though I know it is difficult for him to carry out any meaningful progress as an individual, he should just come to the people and talk to us. That means a lot to us as voters,” – ChamuWarikandwa , Unit O.

“I hear that we have an MP but I do not see any difference. We might as well not have one. We still have the same problems as before. The MDC-T MP is failing us just as we were failed by Zanu (PF) MPs. We can do better without MPs,” – Alec Mutungura, Seke Unit N.

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