MP-ELECT for Mhondoro Ngezi Mike Gava says he will ensure the National Youth Service is made compulsory during his tenure as a lawmaker in the forthcoming Eighth Parliament. Gava became popular when he married former beauty queen and outspoken youth leader Tendai Wenyika, and hosted a wedding which was attended by top Zanu PF leaders and controversial South African politician Julius Malema. At 32, Gava is one of the Young Turks to be elected into Parliament under a Zanu PF ticket after beating former MP Bright Matonga in Zanu PF primary elections. He said his ambition was to become Youth minister. Gava beat MDC-T candidate Juru Tirivanhu when he garnered a total of 13 476 votes against Tirivanhu’s 3 564 votes. The following are excerpts from an interview between Gava (MG) and NewsDay Senior Parliamentary Reporter Veneranda Langa (ND) on various issues.
Report by Veneranda Langa
ND: Congratulations for winning the Mhondoro Ngezi seat. Who is Mike Gava and tell us a brief history about your political career?
MG: I was born 32 years ago and my political career started in 1997 when I was still at high school. I was attracted into politics because my late mother Chiratidzo Gava was a very active politician and was a senior member of Zanu PF. As a young boy, I used to drive her to party meetings in Mhondoro during school holidays and this initiated me into politics.
ND: Is that the time you decided to join Zanu PF and become very active in politics?
MG: Yes, I was elected Zanu PF branch secretary for Mhondoro ward three youth wing in 1997. In 2001, I rose through the ranks to become deputy chairperson of the Mhondoro youth wing. In 2002, I decided to join the National Youth Service and got enrolled at Dadaya National Youth Service Centre in Zvishavane where I got further political orientation. In 2003, I was elected vice-chairman of Mashonaland West Zanu PF Youth League, and in 2009 I became Zanu PF national youth political commissar – a position which I currently hold.
ND: What educational qualifications do you hold and apart from politics what else do you do?
MG: I am a holder of a Diploma in Business Administration from UMAA Institute and through Zanu PF indigenisation programmes I am a full-time farmer employing more than 50 people. I also own a fleet of eight commuter omnibuses and I also have shops. In those businesses I can say that I employ more than 20 people.
ND: What is your view of the Zanu PF concept of youth empowerment and the indigenisation programme?
MG: That is the reason why Zanu PF had an appeal to young people. Young people now own properties through the indigenisation programme. Unlike the MDC-T which wants people to be workers, our party wants people to be owners of businesses.
ND: Now that you managed to win the Mhondoro Ngezi seat, what kind of programmes do you have for your constituency?
MG: Firstly, Mhondoro Ngezi is a rural constituency and the road network there is very poor. The school infrastructure is also very poor because most schools have no electricity. There are also very few schools that can offer Advanced Level in Mhondoro Ngezi and the few do not have science laboratories. Those are some of the things that I would like to improve once I am sworn in as legislator for the constituency.
ND: What kind of motions are you likely to introduce in Parliament?
MG: I am very passionate about youth development and as a result I will push for a motion to ensure there is re-introduction of the National Youth Service. The reason why I am pushing for that is that it has capacity to empower the youth both politically and economically so that they become responsible citizens. Another motion that I will push forward has to do with providing funding for agricultural activities.
ND: As a leader, how are you going to empower the youths in your constituency?
MG: Mhondoro Ngezi is endowed with different minerals like uranium, platinum and there is also iron ore. What we want to do is to start irrigation schemes in order to promote farming activities by the youths in the area. What this means is that mining companies in the area should have programmes to finance these irrigation programmes to benefit the youths. We should also have forestry programmes to replace trees that have been cut so that we do not have problems of deforestation to bedevil future generations.
ND: Coming from a political party which says it wants to create entrepreneurs from the youth, are there any plans to ensure the youths in Mhondoro Ngezi take part in mining?
MG: Yes, we want the youths to also own mines. However, what we are saying is that mining giants should continue their mining activities, but we want these mines to develop the area in the form of improving the road network and coming up with different projects to empower these youths because they are marginalised.
We want to set up community share ownership trusts in the constituency and ensure that mining communities are able to benefit from their natural resources. We want Zimbabweans to refrain from the culture of thinking that it is only white people who are capable of farming and mining. We do not want to go back to the Stone Age or the era of Ndebele King Lobengula who ended up selling gold for a song because he did not know its value.