Head dumps school chalk for politics

Johnson Madhuku

THE Dutch Reformed Church-run Pamushana High School in Bikita has a success story to tell. Apart from producing excellent results that have seen it get a place in the Top 10 best performing schools in Zimbabwe, the school also improved drastically in the field of sport and won several trophies in youth soccer.

INTERVIEW: Everson Mushava

Johnson Madhuku

But its headmaster of 21 years, Johnson Madhuku (JM), has left the school and is now the Zanu PF MP for Bikita East. He talks to NewsDay (ND) chief reporter, Everson Mushava on his new career in politics and his vision for Bikita. Below are excerpts:

ND: What motivated you to leave your job as a headmaster of a successful school to be an MP?

JM: Well, for everything under the sun, there is a time. There was a time to lead as a headmaster and a time to say goodbye, leave the job to others. All of us should learn to leave posts to others, not to die in posts and beg for extensions. I am 58 years old, and served the Ministry of [Primary and Secondary] Education for 34 solid years, of which 29 of them were in administration, and for 21 years as headmaster at Pamushana High School. Wasn’t that enough grace? Grace was upon me all the days of my stay at Pamushana and I managed to build a great legacy I am proud of when I look back. I think the best time to leave a job is when you are still swimming in glory, and not when the graph starts plummeting downwards.

ND: Being a legislator is completely a new job, and why are convinced you will succeed the same way you managed Pamushana High School.

JM: As a child of Bikita, I thought I could make a contribution as an MP judging from my successful career as a headmaster where I held several responsibilities as the president of National Association of School Heads and Confederation of Southern Africa Schools Sports Association (Cossasa). I have accrued vast experience and knowledge, and have travelled far and wide in the world, to the United States, Germany, Australia, not to mention in the Sadc region. I have learnt a few things that am hungry to share and implement for my people in Bikita.

ND: So, who is Johnson Madhuku?

JM: I am the fourth born of late peasant farmers from Bikita, Chief Mazungunye. Married, blessed with four lovely children, one girl and three boys, two in Australia, one in the UK and the fourth in Upper Six at Pamushana High School. I did my primary education at Mandara in Bikita, secondary school at Zimuto High. I hold a secondary teacher training certificate from Gweru Teachers’ College, Bachelor of Arts Degree in Psychology from the University of Zimbabwe and a Masters of Science in Peace, Leadership and Conflict Resolution with the Zimbabwe Open University.

ND: You are now the Bikita East MP, what is top on your priority list?

JM: Improving the life of my people and health by building clinics; education by ensuring accessibility to ICT, science infrastructure and other resources. I also hope to improve the road network in my constituency and work towards ensuring access to clean water and sanitation facilities. Every homestead should have a toilet. I also hope to initiate income-generating projects and bring an end to the human and wildlife conflict by fencing off all areas bordering the Save Conservancy where lions, elephants, and buffalos are causing havoc, and buffalos spreading foot and mouth disease to a community that largely depends on livestock rearing.

ND: What do you think are the notable failures by your predecessors?

JM: Not any I am aware of. They only faced huge challenges because of a very bad and struggling economy, so had difficulties in carrying out projects. With the new political dispensation and Second Republic already doing wonders, I’m hopeful that my job will be made easier and enjoyable. I am told that business this year did improve tremendously in the conservancies in my constituency, kudos to His Excellency President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s visionary and blessed leadership that is already bearing fruit before harvest time.

ND: During your campaign period, you promised to commercialise production of avocados in areas around Mbirashava where the fruit is abundant, to what extent have you gone to fulfil your promise?

JM: Yes, in my constituency, there are a lot of farmers who produce avocados, and market is the problem. The intention is to find a market for these farmers and look into transport logistics to ferry the produce. At the moment I am still consulting and trying to find a market. When resources become available, we should construct weirs in some of these areas to improve farming and introduce a variety of crops.

ND: I understand the results of your constituency are one of the many being challenged before the courts by the MDC Alliance?

JM: Well, the courts will decide. It’s the right of anybody who feels aggrieved to approach those vested with such powers. I won the election, freely, fairly and emphatically and the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission made a declaration of my victory, and hence I am in Parliament. I will not have sleepless nights over the challenge.

ND: Do you miss your old job? What do you think made you successful?

JM: Thirty-four years in a particular profession is no joke! Yes, I miss students who had become my friends and my life. Any change in life, whether good or bad or for the better is not easy. But I will adjust, as I am still learning the ropes and Parliament culture and way of doing things. I know I will love it with passage of time. Getting the school to its present standing required a lot of hard work, dedication, team work, listening ears as well as avoiding gossip and backbiting. I can tell you that my time as a headmaster I had negative experiences, but through grace, I sailed through. I was also lucky that I always had a competent school development committee and an excellent teaching as well as non-teaching staff. To me, I think I had the best team in the country.

ND: What are your ambitions in politics? Do you hope in future to hold a ministerial position if appointed?

JM: I left education to join the National Assembly, that’s all. That happened, and I now sit in the august House. Goal achieved, what more do I want? Anything extra, or more than that, it is the Head of State to do in his wisdom, which he has, and when he did so with this present team, it was good, in fact, very good to him and us all. It is like the creation story in Genesis 1:31 … “and God saw everything that he had made, and behold, it was very good. And there was evening and there was morning …”


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