St Mary’s suffers neglect

ST MARY’S is a densely populated constituency found in the dormitory town of Chitungwiza. A drive through the area gives the impression that most people there are self-employed.

By VENERANDA LANGA

One is met by vending stalls built near the main roads, where people sell different wares, as well as makeshift factories where people do projects such as welding and carpentry.

Burst sewers are clearly visible in most parts of the constituency. Local legislator Unganai Tarusenga (MDC-T) said the constituency often experiences burst sewer pipes, water cuts and flooding during the rainy season.

“It is a serious thing to the extent that some people now use the bush system, while others bury human waste on the ground. Tap water only comes out once or twice a week and because there is no water to flush toilets, people end up resorting to those unhygienic methods of disposing human waste,” Tarusenga said.

The area is prone to flooding. During last year’s rains, 18 families were seriously affected by the floods as their houses were destroyed, especially at Mangoromera area.

Issues that the MP could highlight during question and answer session in Parliament

lDilapidated roads (Transport and Infrastructure Development ministry)

lWater problems and burst sewers (Water and Climate ministry)

lFlooding and displacements, poverty (Water and Climate, Social Welfare ministry)

lHigh unemployment levels (Public Service and Social Welfare ministry)

Performance of the MP in Parliament

Tarusenga sits in the Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Public Service and Social Welfare, and the Portfolio Committee on Industry and Commerce. He has been vocal during committee sittings and this could be attributed to the fact that he is a former trade unionist and is passionate about labour issues. In the National Assembly, he is fairly vocal, but he can use more of his trade unionism and labour expertise to contribute to debate on Bills and motions pertaining to labour issues.

When his constituency was affected by flooding, he raised the issue in Parliament. But some affected residents felt the MP did not do much to push the government to do something about the problem.

What people in St Marys said about their MP:

Tashinga Tutani – Chigovanyika area

I do not even know my MP. I have never heard of him or even seen him. I have never heard of meetings he has called to meet residents.

Jesca Boroma – Paradise area

I only saw the MP once when he was campaigning. I never saw him again, but would like to say that if he gets the Constituency Development Fund (CDF) allocation, then he must ensure it solves issues of flooding and drainage systems. That is one of the priority areas that he should attend. The situation is so serious that whenever it rains, the water that floods into our houses comes with sewage. So we are saying that the MP must come back to consult us and hear our priorities on how to use the CDF. We do not want food handouts, our main worry right now is that the rains are coming and we want part of the CDF tp assist us in that regard.

Grace Chapanyu – Paradise area

I did not know we have an MP representing us in Parliament. If he is there, how come we never see him? He must know that we experience serious water problems here and must raise it in Parliament. We only get supplies two days in a week and end up walking four to five kilometres to Hunyani River to fetch water. The MP needs to raise issues about the environment. There are deep pits in some areas caused by sand poachers and the situation is even dangerous when it rains.

Innocent Madubeko – Huruyadzo area

I know the MP. He is a good man. He has been helping people at funerals to the extent of buying coffins, providing food and transport. I have attended his meetings. Indeed the MP is always with us, encouraging us to register to vote.
John Mathe – Paradise

We no longer want MPs because we do not see their use. I know Tarusenga and I often see him driving through Paradise, but he has not come back to the people to listen to our problems. So, if he does not consult us, what then does he raise in Parliament? It means he raises his own issues, not what affects the people. These MPs only come to us to campaign then they disappear.

MP’s response

I know all the issues that have been highlighted by the people, and during my speech soon after I was elected MP, I highlighted the issues pertaining to problems that people are facing in my constituency.

However, I have also noted that even if MPs highlight problems of their constituencies in Parliament, it is just a talk show. I have asked several questions in Parliament pertaining to flooding, dilapidated infrastructure and water problems, but there has not been implementation by government. I went to the extent of personally going to the Primary and Secondary Education ministry to complain about lack of secondary schools in my constituency, but the government has not acted. It is not only about government lacking money, it is lack of political will.

There has not been development in my constituency because when CDF allocations were disbursed to MPs in 2011, I was not yet elected. The then MP Marvellous Khumalo is the one that got the $50 000, but it was misused resulting in residents perceiving MPs as looters. I have managed to bring peace to St Mary’s which used to be volatile by engaging rival political parties to work together. As an MP, I have not separated people due to their political affiliation. I meet with the people every month.

I know that people think an MP should be a social welfare being, but although it is not part of legislators’ duties I have made sure that here and there I assist by paying fees, ferrying people during funerals and other assistance using my own funds.
Now that CDF will be disbursed, I look forward to sprucing up the clinic, schools, and boreholes and to do other projects that people will suggest.

St Mary’s suffers neglect : NewsDay Zimbabwe.