The late Edward Takaruza Chindori-Chininga was arguably one of the most illustrious and true “Sons of the Soil” to come out of Zanu PF — among others that did not hesitate to publicly expose theft, corruption and general decay at great personal risk.
Report by Tangai Chipangura
Like Sydney Malunga, that great hero from Matabeleland who, in those early days of Zimbabwe’s post-independence Parliament — the days of the Black Dogs — pointed brave fingers without restraint, Chindori-Chininga did not mince his words when he spoke about theft or any form of sleaze, especially involving the powerful.
His interest was to save Zimbabwe from plunder.
When he died, Chindori-Chininga had just released a report that raised a storm in Parliament —exposing massive pilfering of Marange diamonds. While the nation was wondering why, given that we are the world’s largest suppliers of diamonds, we remain unable to feed ourselves — let alone finance our own elections — the brave MP told Parliament that diamonds worth several tens of millions of dollars were being stolen.
Involved in the theft, he said, were several unscrupulous foreign companies working in cahoots with men and women sitting with him in the House of Parliament, including Cabinet ministers and also those men and women in charge of national security.
He had serious confrontation with authorities, including Cabinet ministers and military people over the issue of accessing Chiadzwa diamond fields.
He was told his Parliamentary committee was not welcome to Marange, but nonetheless
Chindori-Chininga proceeded to Manicaland and spent hours at the gates of the mining fields, arguing with those that were denying him entrance. He refused to accept that Parliament, as a representative of the people of Zimbabwe, should not be allowed to go inside to see what was happening.
He lost the battle, but not the war. After about three months, he managed to get his committee into the diamond fields although, of course, those that had things to hide, had found time and techniques to ensure the truth remained hidden.
Exactly a week before his death, Chindori-Chininga had just finished a national tour with Parliament’s Portfolio Committee on Mines and Energy which he headed, on public hearings on issues to do with the power utility, Zesa. He was planning to present a report this week.
Zimbabwe will recall that it was Chindori-Chininga who last year, in another damning report to do with Zesa, exposed political party gurus and Cabinet ministers who, for years, had been using electricity without paying a cent for it. Many of them had unpaid electricity bills running into many hundreds of thousands of dollars. A lot of them were using their political muscle to order Zesa to supply their farms with free electricity.
What later came out of that report revealed that a host of politicians, including even President Robert Mugabe, owed Zesa money in unpaid electricity bills. There was an outcry from the public who have power from their homes disconnected because of small electricity bills.
It was again Chindori-Chininga who made noise in Parliament over the issue of extraction of chrome. His committee brought to the fore how corrupt the issuance of chrome mining claims had affected the industry and how political heavyweights were protecting (for money) miners that were defacing the environment.
Chininga is also that man who almost got Justice minister Patrick Chinamasa and Arafas Gwaradzimba jailed for contempt of Parliament over the Shabanie Mashaba Mines (SMM) saga.
That was Chindori-Chininga. He did not have sacred cows.
There are many issues that Chindori-Chininga found himself crossing paths with some of the so called untouchables in government and his party Zanu PF. National interest counted first before party or chef protection — or his own personal safety.
It is no wonder there are so many theories flying around over the manner in which he met his death — in front of a nondescript household in rural Guruve, his home area. There are journalists who reported that the mystery surrounding Chindori-Chininga’s death included the non-existence of skid-marks or any sight of signs of a vehicle out of control, between the tarmac where he allegedly left the road and the killer tree.
Up to yesterday, the issue of his Hero status was still as mysterious as the manner of his death. There were reports on Friday that a letter had been dispatched from the province requesting that he be considered for the national hero status. But a day or two later, there were senior individuals in the deciding Politburo of Zanu PF still saying they knew nothing of the letter.
We finally learnt yesterday that he had been denied National Hero Status. So, he will lie at the provincial shrine in Mashonaland Central.
But that should not matter to Zimbabweans for whom he worked so bravely and so well. Chindori-Chininga will remain a national hero of as deserving stature as the likes of Malunga, Lazarus Nzarayebani, Eddison Zvobgo, Zororo Duri, William Ndangana, Chris Ushewokunze, Joel Kufandada, Benson Ndemera, Herbert Mahlaba, Lookout Masuku and many others, including those unsung heros whose good works will continue to live after them.