“If at first you don’t succeed, try, try again,” aptly sums Zanu PF’s Hurungwe North aspiring parliamentary candidate Ability Gandawa’s fighting spirit in the face of adversity. After narrowly losing the party’s 2013 primary elections to Reuben Marumahoko, Gandawa did not give up and now appears set for Parliament after winning this year’s internal polls.

By Nhau Mangirazi

Gandawa (AG) recently shared his vision for the constituency in an interview with NewsDay correspondent Nhau Mangirazi (ND).Below are the excerpts of the interview.

ND: Give us a brief of your political background as Zanu PF youth?

AG: I am a Zanu PF product of formal transition from branch and district levels before elevation to provincial youth league member for Hurungwe North in 2013. I am currently secretary for administration for Mashonaland West youth wing.

In 2013 I narrowly lost to Reuben Marumahoko and it transformed me.

ND: How did it feel to lose in 2013?

AG: Electoral defeat is a remarkably sudden death. Of course, as a candidate facing months of intense campaigning, it is extraordinarily difficult even to stomach the possibility of losing.

Defeated politicians, we suddenly lose a demanding, busy but valued role.

Back then it was almost unheard of that youthful cadres would think of challenging seasoned members of our party.

We had Marumahoko, the late Peter Chanetsa and war veteran Stephen Karenga. I came second.

Since 2013 I have been involved in community development activities in the constituency.

ND: To what do you attribute your victory?

AG: My success is hinged on the work I did to support communities. I thank fellow candidates who participated showing maturity and accepting the will of the people.
There were premature celebrations from other candidates even though they lost there is no shame in defeat. When you lose, you learn a lot

ND: What do you promise the electorate?

AG: The central theme of my engagement is the need to take steps to free up the potential of rural communities by building on the factors that strengthen thriving communities and a resilient productive agriculture.

Championing community development to build sustainable, and cohesive rural communities is paramount.

My vision is to facilitate the provision of community-owned and managed small-scale irrigation facilities and livestock development centres.

We want to accelerate aquaculture by promoting extensive fish farming and related infrastructure, agro-processing enterprises, particularly women-owned, to acquire appropriate technology and basic processing machinery.

We will continue to expand and upgrade the road infrastructure connecting farming communities to marketing centres for both maize and soya beans, encourage local poultry meat processing, horticulture, food and industrial crops to enhance production for Hurungwe.

ND: Peace is paramount to development, what is your take on this, as youths have been agents of political violence?

AG: The thrust is to facilitate resources provision to all rural actors in the perspective of sustainable rural development, overcoming poverty, and promoting equity, contributing to creating the foundations for the viability and development of territorial communities by providing them land management tools; strengthening the efficacy of State services in terms of public service delivery and encouraging investment in Hurungwe North — taking into consideration different needs and concerns especially pertaining to vulnerable groups, environmental conservation and sustainability, good governance, and pursuit of equity, justice, and social peace.

ND: Villagers in parts of Zambezi Valley in Chundu are sitting on the fence facing eviction, how are you going to assist?

AG: The community in Chewore has been living there since the early 1980s. Families were raised in that space and it is unfair to relocate those families, especially when life has gone this far.

I would engage and suggest that we regularise the settlement, with a view to protecting human life.

Wildlife boundaries can be moved to accommodate the settlement.

ND: Anything to do with climate change and tourism?

AG: We need to harness bottom-up innovations of rural communities, and the private sector needs to look at the business opportunities and make smart investments.

In order to sustain viable agribusiness, my constituency must be alive to changes in our climate and we plan together with that in mind.

There are already some general political and strategic orientations on climate change adaptation, but government institutions continue to be insufficiently prepared for the risks and challenges associated with climate change.

Very few specific climate change adaptation measures have been implemented so far.

Social vulnerability factors such as a heavy dependence on climate sensitive occupation, less diversified sources of income and limited access to climate change information will contribute to the high vulnerability level for Hurungwe North.

Going forward I will ensure that families are exposed to information on climate change and adaptation.

On tourism activities in the constituency, I’m grateful we have received so much support from safari operators in our tourism sites. Recently, we had a dam constructed by our tourism players, aquaculture infrastructure donated to one of our schools.