Chebundo pledges legal reform

During the last election Blessing Chebundo’s house was burned down and he was nearly killed. He tells Brenna Matendere why he is standing again.

BM: You have been MP for 13 years. Why are you not passing on the baton?

BC: We are still waging a struggle in Parliament and in all spheres. You do not substitute a cadre at the melting point of a struggle. Just like it was impossible to say to Josiah Magama Tongogara during the liberation war, “you have been commander of the army for many years why are you not stepping aside for others to come into your position?” Since 1999 our struggle has been to liberate the people of Zimbabwe from the bondage of Robert Mugabe and Zanu (PF). This is the mandate our people here gave me. We are taking MDC-T to government and after that we can start talking of passing on the baton. Not now.

BM: So are you not clinging to power just like Zanu (PF)?

BC: No. The only time that I would be in power is when Morgan Tsvangirai becomes president. You cannot say you in power when you are an MDC-T MP in a country like this where its leader is Zanu (PF)’s Mugabe, when your local authority is controlled by Zanu (PF) Ignatius Chombo.

BM: In your next term what are you looking at doing which you have not done in the past 13 years?

BC: I believe MDC-T will win the next elections and then we have a local government minister who will relieve Chombo. We have been able to do nothing while he has been in power. I have managed to connect internationally with people who want to invest here. I want to correct the destruction done by Zanu (PF) especially of our social fabric. Kwekwe is a mining town. We need to harness the minerals so that they benefit the nation – not a few individuals. In an MDC-T government, I will work with the local authority to uplift lives of the people of Kwekwe – to make sure the city benefits from the vast mineral wealth it is gifted with.

BM: What about on parliament business?

BC: I subscribe to the notion that if you are elected a national figure, you should think nationally and act locally. I want to contribute immensely on the realignment of laws to the new dispensation brought about by the new constitution. Mining laws, I have to represent Kwekwe on those with all my energies. Most of the people here rely on gold mining. We need to come up with a formalised arrangement for small-scale miners – instead of being manipulated by Zanu (PF) like in the past.

We need to have laws that formalise mining at every level. We need laws that make the small miners pay taxes, sell their proceeds to Fidelity and adhere to environment issues. The gold panners at present are exploited by Zanu (PF) leaders. Once there is a gold rush, they say we own this area, so you must buy a card, put on regalia, attend meetings and surrender 50 percent of the ore you find to the chef and 25% to the party.

Then you remain with 25 percent. The risk of going underground is yours, if you die no one cares. I believe that it’s the highest exploitation of mankind. So I would fight to ensure that comes to an end. We also need to find capital for ailing companies here like Lanchshire Steel, Sables, ZISCO etc.

BM: How does the campaign field ahead of elections compare with your previous experience?

BC: In the past Zanu (PF) mastered the highest violence tactics. We endured killings. Our cadres like Mandishona Mushanda were butchered by known Zanu goons in Amaveni together with others like the Mahunis and Charles Banda. If we had been cowards we would have surrendered. And had I given up in Kwekwe, people would have chickened out. My house was burnt down and I was almost killed.

This time around, in terms of physical violence I have heard of intimidation, here and there, but it’s not as bad as before. However, this time around, Kwekwe Central has been made a playing field by interested Zanu (PF) candidates. People from as far as Gokwe Kana (Owen Mudha) and Chirumanzu-Zibagwe (Emmerson Mnangawa) have pasted their posters here to an extent where mine have been overshadowed. It will confuse voters. I think the concept is to revenge and make MDC-T weaker because I defeated Mnangagwa before he left the constituency. Again my few posters are being pulled down. If you put them today, tonight they are pulled down. We have reported the matter to police and ZEC. After all this however, we still believe that we will romp to victory on 31 July. In Shona we say if you kick a frog trying to hurt it, it becomes its advantage because you will have quickened its movement forward.


Born 1958 in Shurugwi. Holds an Environmental Health Science degree from National Institute for Working Life, Sweden, Bachelor of Science in Local Governance and Masters in Development Studies from Midlands State University.

Worked at Sable Chemicals from 1979-2000 as an Occupational Health and safety Officer. From 1990 to 2000 was an outspoken trade unionist. Rose through ranks to become secretary for Midlands in the Zimbabwe Chemical and Allied Workers Union in 1990. In 1995 was elected national treasurer in the ZCAWU and became ZCTU Vice Chairperson for Central Region during that period.

In 1998 was one of 41 civil society members who put together the idea of forming the MDC. In 1999, he became founding chairperson of the MDC Midlands North branch. At the first MDC congress held in 2000, Chebundo was elected national executive member and given the health secretary portfolio. Since then he has been MDC-T MP for KweKwe Central.

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