Defying the odds to develop Bikita East

It took personal sacrifice and a lot of courage to promote peace in a politically volatile area that has for a long time been a battleground for political protagonists. But the MP for Bikita East, Edmore Marima (39), is prepared to pay the price.

For over 20 years, Zanu (PF) enjoyed a monopoly in the constituency – mainly because there was hardly any other political party to talk about then. But the tide changed in 2000 when Marima joined MDC led by Morgan Tsvangirai.

With over 30,000 registered voters, the constituency covers 11 wards and is around 120km at its widest point.It covers a sizeable part of the Save Valley Conservancy.

Before Marima became the MP, the local clinic was not functioning and there were hardly any livelihood boosting projects in the area.

Marima has gone through a turbulent political career. After the split of the MDC in 2005, he was the chief strategist for the party together with the late MDC national chairman Isaac Matongo.

He traversed Zaka, Chivi, Gutu, Chiredzi, Mwenezi, Bikita and Masvingo districts teaching people about the party’s ideology and campaigning for candidates.In the process he was arrested five times on spurious allegations that ranged from rape and murder to arson and inciting public violence.

He was never convicted on any of the charges levelled against him.The 2000 Bikita West by-election following the death of former MDC MP Amos Mutongi saw violence spread in Masvingo province as Zanu (PF) battled to retain its lost constituencies. The party targeted MDC polling agents, murdering some of them along the way – including Richard Chatunga and Richard Maphosa who were murdered by the late David “Zongororo” Musoro and William Nhongo.

The two murderers were each sentenced to 14 years in prison with hard labour. Musoro died while serving his sentence while Nhongo was pardoned by President Mugabe.

The 2008 Presidential run-off campaign saw Zanu (PF) youth militia and the army embarking on an orgy of violence, destroying opposition supporters’ homesteads and killing their livestock as a strategy to “instil fear in the heart of the enemy.”

Marima’sMapari Lodge was looted of 36 mattresses, the chalets were burnt and his brother Martin Marima’s grocery shop at Maregere was destroyed.

“In the short time that Marima has been MP, the area is now accessible to communication networks. Econet has set up one network booster at Chikuku Township and the other one at Mbuya Nehanda Township while Netone installed another one at Hanyanya Mountain. Gone are the days when the area was completely shut out from the rest of the world,”said Tsitsi Nhongonhema from Mutsinzwa village.

Marima using the Constituency Development Fund to help construct a power line to the area. He also built classrooms, teacher’s houses, grinding mills and set up candle-making projects in Wards 14, 16 and 17.

Despite his efforts, the road network is still in bad shape following repeated storms over the years and the area still lacks an office for the MP.

Post published in: News
  1. Mugombi

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