Brave Chikwinya battles against the odds

They don’t comemuch braver than Settlement Chikwinya, the MDC-T MP for Mbizo.

A woman stands at an affected door in Mbizo 7.
A woman stands at an affected door in Mbizo 7.

He joined the MDC at its formation in 1999, aged 23, and since then has risked arrest, detention and torture as Zanu (PF) became increasingly paranoid due to the typhoon that the new opposition party was causing.

He could have been young, but a quest for people’s freedom saw him wading into the crocodile-infested river of Kwekwe politics where he had to contend with the likes of Emmerson Mnangagwa, a feared Zanu(PF) supremo.

Before the formation of the MDC, Zanu (PF) dominated parliament and its members had come to take power for granted. When the opposition party emerged, it inevitably faced the wrath of a wounded lion.

Like a number of young politicians in the MDC, led by Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai, Chikwinya has risen fast.His constituency is a populous low income suburb in Kwekwe, where he was born.

He went to Dadaya High School and later studied for a B-Tech in Mechanical Engineering. He is a Class One fitter machinist.He also attained national certificates in machine engineering, and marketing and salesmanship.

He joined the MDC in 1999 and in 2001 to 2003, he was elected as the Kwekwe’s Ward 12 Vice Secretary. From 2003 to 2005, he was District Vice Secretary before his election as the Kwekwe District Chairperson in 2005.

From 2006 to March 2011, Chikwinya was the Midlands South Provincial Secretary. He is also a former councillor for Ward 12 in the Kwekwe City Council.Chikwinya has also been involved in trade union activities and was once the Deputy Secretary General of the Zimbabwe Ferro Alloys Workers’ Union.

He has been a victim of Zanu PF’s brutality and has been arrested several times on various trumped up charges, but that has not deterred him. He is now Chairman of the Media and Communications parliamentary portfolio committee.

He has made an immense contributionto transforming the lives of Mbizo people through the Constituency Development Fund, augmented by his own resources.

The Constituency Development Committe Chairperson, Simon Machisvo, said since 1980 when now Defence Minister Emmerson Mnangagwa became Kwekwe MP, the constituency had not witnessed meaningful development.

“It was only when Chikwinya won the seat to represent us in parliament that we began to hear that Government allocates funds for constituency development. During Mnangagwa’s time there was nothing like that,” said the chairperson.

Another committee member, John Kaseke, added: ‘‘with the coming of Chikwinya, it has been great. He cares for the old and the sick and gives to the bereaved, the old and orphans. Moreover he is non-discriminatory,” Kaseke said.

In the populous Ward 2 of the Constituency, Chikwinya successfully facilitated the renovation of ablution facilities which posed a serious health risk for over 80 families.

“The toilets we have in this area are now too old and we always lived with the fear of a cholera outbreak. Since independence, nothing had been done to upgrade them but Chikwinya has come to our aid,” said Sarudzai Gomondo, 55.

“The MP brought us new toilet doors to replace the old ones as we had no privacy when using the facility. Our efforts to seek assistance from other authorities and the previous MP had failed,” added Stella Chaminuka, who has lived in the constituency for the past 38 years.

In Mbizo Ward 3, Chikwinya doused the long battle among residents over the issue of sharing water meters.

“Before the intervention of the MP, two families would use a single water meter. What it meant was that these two families would share the water bill at the end of the month. If one of the families failed to settle their bill, water would be disconnected, leading to fights between those people but now it’s a thing of the past,” said Jimmy Gwatidzo.

The Mbizo 11 Clinic Sister-in-Charge, Winnie Muderedzwa, is grateful to Chikwinya for his efforts to improve health delivery in the constituency.

For the first time since 1994 when the clinic was established, the institution has moved from manual capturing of data to the electronic system.

“The MP donated a computer for us last year. That ended our 17-year-old problem of doing manual calculations and records relating to HIV treatment, TB cases and opportunistic infections,’’ she said.

Besides introducing information technology at the clinic, Sister Muderedzwa said the MP also ended the perennial water crisis which severely affected the institution.

“He donated a 5 000 litre water reserve tank at his own expense,” she said, adding that he has also helped patients with blankets.

In Ward 4, Chikwinya has also successfully sunk a borehole at Dambudzo Primary School to cater for pupils affected by water problems.

In wards 5 and 12, Chikwinya has helped construct market stalls for mostly female vendors who testify that their lives have improved through the initiative.

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