A passion for education

Despite having been trained as a lawyer, David Coltart, has a passion for education.

David Coltart.
David Coltart.

The MDC-N Senator for Khumalo constituency in Bulawayo, was appointed Minister of Education, Arts, Sport and Culture soon after the formation of the inclusive government in 2009. Since the election as MP in 2000, he has assisted scores of desperate people in his constituency with school fees through his humanitarian fund which he set up with the assistance of friends.

“I value education and health a lot. Through this fund, I have managed to pay fees for school children and university students, in addition to medical expenses and rentals for some deserving people in the constituency,” said Coltart in an interview with The Zimbabwean.

Through the fund, Coltart has also sponsored self-help training courses for Patricia Nabanyama, the widow of the late Patrick Nabanyama who mysteriously disappeared in the year 2000 and is believed to have been murdered by suspected Zanu (PF) supporters. He was Coltart’s polling agent before the split of the MDC in 2005.

Since his appointment as Minister, Coltart has been working tirelessly to restore sanity and excellence to the education sector – although with very limited resources. Among his notable achievements has been the sourcing of funds from donor partners to buy text books.

He also scored a first by introducing minority languages such as Tonga in schools. Tonga was officially tested at Grade 7 in some schools for the first time in October last year.

“I have never worked as hard as I have done during the past four years since my appointment as a minister. When I took over, the education sector was in a serious crisis. Although we have done a lot to improve the situation, a lot more still needs to be done,” said Coltart.

Most schools in the country are in dilapidated conditions and need urgent rehabilitation.

“This year we have only received 6% of our budget yet our schools are crumbling. We need money to buy school desks, repair roofs , floors and reconstruct toilets .The situation has reached catastrophic levels,” he said.

Coltart was first elected MDC Bulawayo South MP in June 2000 and was re-elected in 2005. During the March 2008 elections, he opted to contest a senatorial seat.

“One of the reasons why I opted for a senatorial seat is that debates in the lower house were unproductive. We spent most of the time shouting at each other,” he said.

People in the constituency who spoke to The Zimbabwean say it is regrettable that Coltart is not as visible in the constituency as he used to be when he was MP.

“When he was our MP he used to regularly hold feedback meetings. Now we no longer see him and most of the time he will be in Harare. In the next elections, I think he should reconsider reverting to an MP. We need him to complete some of the projects he initiated,” said Shepard Pangayi, a resident in the constituency.

Another resident, Tinashe Chakandinakira, said a lot of youths in the constituency were unemployed and hoped that Coltart would come to their rescue.

“There is high employment in this constituency. The majority of the people used to work for industries that have now collapsed. We want the Senator to use his close connections with the donor community to source funds for youth projects in the area,” said Chakandinakira.

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