By Tom Ncube
Peter Magaso was born, bred and buttered in Murehwa. He remembers with nostalgia the boundless joy of his childhood as all communities in the Mashonaland East district lived blissful lives.
After completing his high school studies in the rural area, the economic demands of his new young family enticed him to cross the Limpopo river and seek employment in South Africa in 2005.
On his first return home in 2009 Magaso was shocked with what he discovered. He could barely recognize the Murehwa that he had left behind four years earlier.
Not only had most of the area’s modest infrastructute crumbled but the cheer that had previously decorated residents’ faces had vanished replaced by the long, frightened faces that greeted him.
This was the result of deadly skirmishes that tore Murehwa apart in 2008 as brother went against brother in the battle for political supremacy between then ruling Zanu-PF’s party president Robert Mugabe and his arch-rival Morgan Tsvangirai of the MDC-T.
Hundreds lost their lives across Mashonaland country with Murehwa one of the badly affected settlements during the infamous clashes that occured in the run-up to the presidential election run-off eventually won by Mugabe after Tsvangirai pulled out arguing he could not go to State House walking over dead bodies.
The rural folk, especially in Murehwa, are yet to find each other 15 years later, something that Magaso, a rising businessman with manufacturing interests in both Zimbabwe and South Africa, wants to put right.
“Murehwa is divided. People are living in grudges due to the political violence that erupted in 2008. Again early this year the social media was full with news of elderly citizens being brutalized for belonging to a political party of their choice. It all happened in my rural area.
“I am on a mission to bring people together starting in Murehwa North where I come from. I intend to engage the families involved, both the victims and perpetrators, and seek reconciliation among them,” Magaso posits.
To achieve this goal Magaso has turned to politics which he believes is the right platform from which to kickstart the healing process of his kinsmen and women.
He successfully filed his nomination papers to stand as a National Assembly candidate for THE UANC party in the Murehwa North constituency.
He particularly settled for THE UANC, led by presidential aspirant Gwinyai Muzorewa, because of the party’s track record and clean reputation.
“THE UANC is hugely popular in my constituency. Its government built roads and many houses that have both electricity and potable water and people still revere the leadership of former Prime Minister Abel Muzorewa.”
But besides fostering a harmonious community, Magaso will use the opportunity of being a parliamentarian to push for other projects that have lacked in his vicinity from his days growing up.
“There is high unemployment in our area for no good reason when we have got mountains of granite being shipped abroad leaving nothing for the community.
“Yet we have the human resources, electricity and enough water. What’s the purpose of transporting the granite to generate employment elsewhere while our school leavers are suffering. I will engage Chief Mangwende, his headmen and village heads to make sure we bring in an investor and build a factory so that the whole production done here. Once the mineral is extracted from the ground we put it in the factory and we cut and polish it there. This will help in creating employment.
Born at St Paul’s Musami, Magaso speaks proudly of Murehwa’s long standing prowess in agriculture. He has plans of developing the trade to greater heights.
“Murehwa is the supplier of vegetable produce to Harare and to as far as Bulawayo. But our farmers are the victims of cheap prices and at the end of the day those who benefit from their labour are makoronyera (middlemen) in Mbare.
“I want us to build a big market in the constituency so that buying and selling of our vegetables takes place there.
“In most of these endeavours I will lobby for our traditional leades to be given the powers to superintend all these projects.
There is much more that the aspiring legislator had in store for his people!
“Another thing to take pride in is the abundance of untapped talent among our youths.
I want to bring experts to scout for talent. I will approach football teams like Caps United, Dynamos, Yadah and the Platinums as well as those in arts and theatre to expose our youths to competition.
Magaso faces three other candidates at the ballot box who include a representative apiece from Zanu-PF and CCC and an independent candidate who lost in the Zanu-PF primaries.
A registered voter in the constituency who identified himself only as Boss Murwira said Magaso will spring a surprise.
“Some years back Magaso donated sports kit to several schools including provincial champions Nyamutumbu High and he is currently working on giving a facelift to Murehwa District Hospital which has a small mortuary. Everyone here will give him their vote,” Boss Murwira predicted.