Edward Chindori-Chininga is no more in flesh, but his words and deeds will remain permanently etched in our memories to allow us to celebrate his life and death as part of an inevitable exit mankind faces.
Report by Mutumwa Mawere
What is important is that he worked constructively and progressively on his dash in line with the words of President Robert Mugabe at his inaugural independence speech of April 1980 when he said: “As we become a new people we are called to be constructive, progressive and forward-looking, for we cannot afford to be men of yesterday, back-looking, retrogressive and destructive. Our new nation requires of every one of us to be a new man, with a new mind, a new heart and a new spirit.”
Like any death, conspiracy theories are inevitable, but death itself is unavoidable. It is always convenient to lean back and try to find meaning from the tragic and unexpected passing of one of the most brilliant, fearless, and forward-looking individual that we are lucky to have shared a life with, but what is true is that as unique as he was in life, he is regrettably not with us in flesh anymore.
In response to his untimely death, the following are the words that I could come up with: “May He Rest In Peace. His tragic loss has robbed many of us of a voice of reason, maturity and fairness at a time when such voices are missing in action. To the Shabanie Mashaba Mines family, he is a hero for he gave their story a voice in Parliament and although his efforts did not produce the outcomes that the people affected deserve, it is one reminder that change is only possible if people choose to act. Indeed, he acted and his legacy is secure in my world.”
On June 19, 2013, Chindori-Chininga exited without warning and this date is significant in that it was the last day of seating of the Parliament of Zimbabwe, his last station in a journey that saw him as a civil servant, minister in government and lastly as the chairman of the Mines, Energy Portfolio Committee. As we reflect on his life and contribution to the enterprise of nation-state building, we are reminded that he was a member of a party, Zanu PF, that is not credited for encouraging plural views and yet it is widely acknowledged that he found space to be different and independent. Indeed, it would be remiss on anyone’s part to fail to congratulate Zanu PF for allowing him to add his voice on some of the most important issues of our time under its umbrella.
He was after all part of the Zanu PF family until death and it is significant that he died in the service of his party as the accident that robbed him of his life visited him on his way back from a crucial party meeting as he was preparing for primary elections.
The observation that the late Margaret Thatcher made that society does not exist, but individuals do, is also applicable to political institutions and if it is correct that individuals give societies character and personality, it must also be true that individuals also shape and define political institutions.
It is often easy to assume that political institutions like Zanu PF exist, forgeting that it is the members who give such institutions the character and personality required to exist and survive.
By choosing to express his views openly, he indeed fulfilled the promise of independence.
When President Mugabe spoke of the creation of a new man at independence, I have no doubt that he expected Zimbabweans like Chindori-Chininga to be courageous and independent in thought and deed.
After 33 years of independence, some of the voices that were vocal prior to independence have vanished all to the detriment of nation building and diversity that is required to build a progressive, equal and just society. There can be no doubt that Chindori-Chininga was different and he did not hide or pretend to be someone he was not for political or even financial expediency. It is unfortunate that Chindori-Chininga will not be able to harvest the fruits of the Constitution that he worked tirelessly to give life to.
We all can be grateful that he not only gave character to Zanu PF, but also helped transform a committee whose members were drawn from three parties to work in harmony.
It is ironic that Mugabe’s experience with the inclusive government is diametrically opposed to the experience of the late legislator who managed to provide the kind of leadership that allowed members to work as a team.
Having interacted personally with the members of the committee that he chaired, I can confirm that he was a respected chair not because he intimidated members, but they genuinely looked up to him to provide the leadership that the committee needed to serve the interests of the broader public.
What was striking is that the members of the MDC formations were at one with members of Zanu PF in acknowledging the existence in him of leadership qualities. Under his stewardship, the committee was able to tackle and expose issues of national interest.
What started as a complaint by workers at SMM (Private) Limited following the placement of the company under the control of a State-appointed administrator developed into a full-scale investigation into the affairs of the company allowing me to be a witness on matters that hitherto were not in the public domain?
Such matters included the ownership of SMM at the time the company was placed under reconstruction.
It would be recalled that Justice minister Patrick Chinamasa misrepresented to the committee that the government of Zimbabwe had acquired shares in SMM’s parent company through the acquisition of bearer share warrants. Chinamasa was requested by the committee to produce confirmation that this was indeed the case. However, such proof was not made available to the committee.
It is common cause that Chinamasa would not have been exposed as a liar were it not for the courage of Chindori-Chininga whose courage to take on a senior member of his own party. The fact that he stood up, with the full support of his committee, for what is right cannot be erased from his record. The manner in which he handled the hearings was exemplary. He distinguished himself as a man who cared about the welfare of the nation.
He could easily have toed the line of the party bosses for financial gain, but he chose to remain principled.
Unlike many who believe that politics is meant for certain people, he chose to be part of the solution and the fact that he understood that even Zanu PF needed dissenting voices to remain valid must be congratulated.
- Mutumwa Mawere is a businessman based in South Africa. He writes in his personal capacity.