A VISIT to the hot and dusty sugar-producing town of Chiredzi, south east of Masvingo province, one quickly realises what keeps the locals going.
BY GARIKAI MAFIRAKUREVA
The town has produced distinguished figures including musician Progress Chipfumo, former Zimbabwe Broadcasting Corporation journalist Mercy Pote ZimFashion Week designer Priscilla Ruzive — who dressed former Miss Zimbabwe Malaika Mushandu and former Miss Carnival Blessing Mukumene — United States-based producer Brian Soko and several other big names in the music industry.
Former Warriors player Harlington Shereni, former Masvingo United and Dynamos player Norman Togara, former Chapungu twin brothers Abel and Cain Muteji, former Warriors player Zvenyika Makonese, Patrick “Mboma” Khumbula, Triangle FC coach Godfrey Tamirepi and the late Dynamos board chairman Morrison Sifelani also had their roots in Chiredzi.
Lack of resources in the area has not hampered the locals’ innovative skills nor subdued their hunger to excel. A walk around the popular Tshovani township will tell how they try to use the limited resources to better their lives.
Although the small town is malaria-prone, youngsters driven by their passion for sport have not paid much thought that many here succumbed to malaria, and have stolen mosquito nets at home to use as football nets on their makeshift goal posts in any available open space.
Driving along Marinda road towards the newly constructed court in ward 5, or if you happen to pass near the new Zaoga Church, you will be tempted to stop and watch barefooted children tussling in the sweltering heat as they enjoy their home-made plastic soccer balls, with goalkeepers jealously guarding goal posts with mosquito nets.
Chiredzi plays host to Tongaat Hullet, the sole sugar-producing company in the country, and Malilangwe Trust, a world-class tourist resort in the southern region. Malilangwe Trust owns Pamusana/Singita Lodge which once accommodated American music star Shakira during World Cup 2010 in South Africa and attracts world billionaires every year. But there is nothing much to show for this in terms of places for recreational activities in Chiredzi.
Chiredzi Town Council chairperson Francis Moyo, told NewsDay Weekender that the municipality was in dire financial constraints at the moment, but plans are in the pipeline to spruce up the town and perhaps lift its status.
“We are operating on a shoestring budget at the moment, but we already have places gazetted for recreational purpose. Unfortunately, we have more pressing issues that need urgent attention,” he said.
Zanu PF ward 5 councillor Blessing Mazinyani also weighed in and reiterated Moyo’s statement saying that he had since approached council on the issue of recreational places in his ward and has submitted his proposal to have a Youth Centre in his ward.
Chiredzi United Residents’ Association chairman Josphat Tizirai, however, said the local authority was being a “crybaby”, almost 40 years after independence. “We should stop being crybabies, shoving all the blame to our former colonial masters. We have been in power for long and we claim that the country belongs to us, but we have never done anything to improve our lives. Council has failed dismally and they should do us justice and resign,” he said.
Chiredzi town recently hit the headlines and set tongues wagging after honouring commercial sex workers who plied their trade in the 1960s and 1970s. The town recognised the sexual exploits of the women who were the pioneers of prostitution in the area by naming streets after them.
Prominent among these was a sex worker only identified as Molly, who was brutally murdered in Tshovani township in 1966.