‘Development must lead politics’

MUTASA South legislator, Regai Tsunga, believes development and efforts to improve people’s lives must come first before an elected person focuses on retaining power.

By Brenna Matendere

In a wide ranging interview with NewsDay, Tsunga said in Mutasa South, the day he was elected MP was when he started to push the agenda of development.

“There is tendency in our lives where people think politics must be on top of their heads at all times and think real business of development must come second. In my view, development must lead politics,” he said.

The MP, is older brother to Arnold Tsunga, the renowned Zimbabwean lawyer and presently the executive director of the Africa Regional Programme of the International Commission of Jurists in South-Africa.

Tsunga was born on November 20, 1964 at Honde Clinic in Mutasa district. He is one of eight children in his family.
“I grew up in Bulawayo under the care of my father who worked at a tyre factory there. Sadly, four of my siblings are now late,” he said.

The legislator a fundi.

“I hold two masters degrees, that is in Education as well as in Development Studies from the University of the Free State in South Africa. I also hold a Bachelor of Education degree from the University of Zimbabwe. I have also done a number of certificate courses including Education (UZ), Human Resources (Unisa) Monitoring and Eval (UZ).”

In a period spanning about 17 years, Tsunga has worked in the education sector as a teacher and headmaster.

He left the sector when he was appointed the District Inspector within the Perfomance Audit and Inspectorate Agency of the Public Service Commission.

He has also been the provincial chairman of the National Association of Primary School Heads and the deputy chairperson of the Zimbabwe Teachers’ Association (Zimta) in Manicaland.

At the moment the legislator sits in the Anglican Diocesan Education commission of Manicaland.

“I also have vast experience working in the civic society sector, but I left full time jobs when I became an MP,” he said.

In 2000, Tsunga decided to join active politics and his party of choice was the MDC, then led by the late Morgan Richard Tsvangirai.

“I am a social democrat and so it followed that I joined the MDC at its formation. It is a party ready to govern and improve the lives of the people in Zimbabwe. It is a visionary party under the astute leadership of president Nelson Chamisa, who is going to form the next government,” he said

“I supported activists since the formation of the MDC and I got my first membership card from Innocent Gonese before he became MP. I continued as an ordinary card-carrying member of the MDC until 2013. In 2018, I was chosen to be the MDC Alliance candidate for Mutasa South Constituency and won. As MP, I am the current constituency chairperson,” Tsunga added.

Since winning the Mutasa South seat, the legislator has already rolled out community projects that are transforming lives.

“We have secured furniture for an underserved school in the constituency. We have electricity installation being finalised at Chikanga market stall. Tsvingwe Clinic is soon to be opened after some refurbishments we made. Mutasa Rural Distric Council is co-operating on this. We are procuring materials for foot crossings in Ward 14, Mutare and wards 21 and 26 Mutasa district. Cement, treated poles and roofing material to refurbish vending stalls in ward 22 are also being procured.”

“We have also engaged traditional leaders to secure their buy in for our policies, programmes and projects. We now plan on securing a constituency office at a strategic location in Mutasa where people can conveniently get Parliament services.”

Going forward, Tsunga has a solid vision for the people of his constituency.

“I aspire to pursue inclusive policies, programmes and projects that improve lives in the constituency. I wish to see vulnerable groups having increased access, ownership and control of safe and sustainable livelihood activities for improved and increased household income. This will help households increase their capabilities of being able to cope with shocks as well as meeting their basic household needs,” he reiterated.

Tsunga said poor governance was to blame for the comatose economy.

“True, Zimbabwe is in a serious and debilitating economic mess. This stems from a crisis of governance emanating from a disputed electoral outcome. There is need to apply pressure to have the impasse resolved through genuine dialogue. There is also need for some negotiated transitional mechanism and institutional reforms that will lead us to free and fair elections whose outcome will not be contested. Once the above are achieved, Zimbabwe will surely begin its recovery and development journey,” he averred.

During last year’s elections, Tsunga beat his main rival, the Zanu PF Manicaland provincial secretary for legal affairs, Misheck Mugadza.

Despite the acrimonious relationship that existed between him and the Zanu PF official during the election time, Tsunga has extended an olive branch to his nemesis.

“We were in the election mode, but it’s now over. I am saying let’s now focus on developing the constituency. There are many issues that need to be addressed such as the issue of constructing new boreholes and finding a solution to the poor road network.

“We have farmers in our constituency and they need good roads so that they can transport their produce,” he said.
“Let’s return to politics in four years, not now. Let’s put our political differences aside if we are going to develop our constituency,” he said.

“I am willing to work with every political party in the constituency. I am a family friend to Misheck Mugadza, who I defeated in the elections and we have been discussing on how best we can develop our constituency.”

“I am a listening MP, if we are united, then we are going to help each other to develop the constituency.”

Mugadza agreed that they need to put their political differences aside.

“We need to put our political differences aside and develop our constituency. We are residents of this constituency, so we need to work together,” he said.

Tsunga also said he was worried about the plight of artisanal miners in the constituency. His constituency covers Penhalonga where gold panning is rife and police have been struggling to control artisanal miners who are degrading land and polluting water sources.

“We have the issues of artisanal miners in my constituency. We are aware of the economic challenges facing the country, so it is difficult to stop these illegal miners from mining gold because this is their only source of income,” he said.

“I am, however, urging the government to regularise artisanal miners rather than continue chasing after them,” he said.

MP Tsunga sits in three parliamentary committees, that is, Media, Information and Broadcasting Services, Higher and Tertiary Education, Science and Technology Development as well as Foreign Affairs and International Trade.

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