Sululu: one of new breed of youthful MPs

Like many of his youthful fellow MPs, Anadi Arnold Sululu (43) has had to manage a troubled constituency. He bemoans the culture of fear that has pervaded Zimbabweans— from journalists to MPs themselves - and confesses his worries about the dominance of Zanu (PF) over his party, the MDC-T, in the Midlands province.

Anadi Arnold Sululu: had to manage a troubled constituency.
Anadi Arnold Sululu: had to manage a troubled constituency.

Attracted to politics after reading Joshua Nkomo’s The Story Of My Life in 1997, Sululu—a banker by profession— moved to South Africa during the start of Zimbabwe’s economic and political chaos about a decade ago. He was part of the team that mobilised the pioneering MDC membership in South Africa.

In the early 2000s, Sululu returned to Zimbabwe, where he continued his mobilisation activities, before being co-opted into the party’s National Organising Committee in 2007. A year later, he was chosen to represent Silobela constituency and won decisively. This was no small feat, considering that most seats in the Midlands province were snatched by Zanu (PF).

Sululu is under no illusion about the challenges facing his constituency. Silobela, in Lower Gweru, was one of the areas that bore the brunt of the Gukurahundi atrocities.

In an exclusive interview with The Zimbabwean, Sululu said although President Mugabe had given a calibrated apology about the massacres, referring to them as ‘‘a moment of madness’’, there was need for more to be done in order to erase the sad memories.

“Gukurahundi memories are still fresh in the minds of those who witnessed and experienced it. The Government has not done enough to address the issue and what is needed is not only an apology, but serious healing and reconciliation efforts,” he said.

Sululu has used most of his tenure to encourage co-existence among supporters of various parties.

“It is encouraging that we have held meetings with the Joint Monitoring and Implementation Committee comprising all political parties and traditional leaders. My call has always been no to violence in Silobela. This has helped a lot as there is relative peace. I hope that when election time comes, everyone will campaign freely and fairly in my constituency.”

On the other problems faced by Silobela constituents, Sululu bemoaned the aridity of the area that has made food insecurity a constant battle. “Although my appeals to the Labour and Social Services Ministry for food assistance have been answered, there has been a general unequal distribution of the food aid,’’ he said.

On numerous occasions he has been forced to step in as some of the community leaders, most of whom are aligned to Zanu (PF), have abused the facility to deny non-Zanu (PF) people food aid.

To help curb the food shortages and encourage self-sustenance, Sululu says he has used most of his $50,000 Constituency Development Fund to buy cement for water tanks at one of the irrigation schemes He also installed nine boreholes in the area. “We still need more boreholes as the constituency is too big and some people have to walk up to five kilometres to the nearest borehole,” he said.

Sululu, who is a member of the Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on communication, urged Information Minister, Webster Shamu, to speed up the opening of airwaves and licensing of more radio stations.

Citing the recent Indigenisation Act, under which foreign companies are supposed to cede 51% of their stake to local people, Sululu said: “Some of the existing laws hinder community development especially if they are misinterpreted by ministers who administer them.”

Unlike other MPs who have constituency based offices, he has had to make do with no such facility and this reduced his accessibility to the people.

Silobela is rich in gold deposits and currently, the Jena Mines, together with thousands of illegal gold panners, are actively extracting gold in the area.

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