A group of Izimnyama villagers in Bulilima district who are now based in the United Kingdom are up in arms with Zanu PF Bulilima West Member of Parliament Dingumuzi Phuti for allegedly hijacking their clinic project.
Zimunyama is located a few kilometres to the south of Plumtree.
The villagers embarked on an aggressive fundraising campaign to construct Zimunyama Clinic with the participation of the local council.
The UK Izimnyama Clinic Group are unhappy with the MP’s public pronouncements about the clinic’s success and attributing it to President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s vision, a move they said showed Zanu PF was undermining their efforts to invest in their community back home.
“What now concerns us is the blatant capture of a community initiative and deliberate misconstruing of the facts at hand by the MP who is hell bent on impressing the First Family to some very concerning extents.
“The MP is blatantly lying about and taking credit for projects he has no idea of the origins of. At the official ground breaking ceremony he turned up uninvited in a fleet of cars with the ruling party regalia emblazoned on them in a blatant attempt to hijack the project into a Zanu PF initiative,” said the UK based members.
The UK Group’s Chairman, Dr Ian Ndlovu, said they started the clinic initiative in the early 1990s under the stewardship of Alderman Alick Masisa who was ward councillor then.
Masisa later became Chairman of Bulilimamangwe District Council, as the current two districts were known at the time and when he visited his children in the UK, his presence was used to launch the fundraising campaign.
“The need for the clinic was apparent as the nearest health centre is Plumtree, more than 15 miles (24 kilometres) away is Embakwe Clinic and later Madam Clinic further to the south. The project faltered over the years due to lack of resources and the country’s changing economic fortunes,” he said.
“The project was revived in 2013 by bonafide residents of Izimnyama who live in the UK during Alderman Masisa’s visit. The project was revived while financial resources were mobilised and a letter was written to Chief Wasi informing him of the initiative as the Father of Izimnyama.”
Financial resources were raised through subscriptions and 53 bags of cement were purchased to start moulding bricks, said Dr Ndlovu.
“Then the Izimnyama/Vaka/Isabeni Burial Society based in South Africa came on board and contributed substantial amounts of money towards the project.
“The two entities saw the completion of the staff house and completion of the main structure’s foundation. Alderman Masisa and Jeremiah Msimanga drove the initiative while the community provided labour, taking turns as villages and we pay a special thank you to locals of Izimnyama who pushed this project to visibility,” he said.
Dr Ndlovu lamented that public pronouncements about the clinic excluded the ‘voice of the local people.’
He also dismissed narratives the project was mooted in the 1950s.
“Any stories written about the clinic should be verified locally to avoid inaccurate narratives. We don’t believe the idea of the clinic is as old as 1953 or 1956. This seems to contradict the history of Izimnyama and general knowledge we have. We can only attest to the idea coming up in the early 1990s to which we can draw to testimonies of people who were committee members and cross -reference to their records,” he said.
Reached for comment, Phuti said he had a right to claim the clinic’s success, as it was one of the priority projects listed in his manifesto.
“Before I became MP, there was one building- a cottage and I took it from there. I met with traditional leaders and locals, as nothing was moving until we held a fundraising gala. Mangwe council threw in ZWL$600 000. 50 000+ facebricks were bought by council including 800+ bags of cement, which excludes other donations.
“I heard the Diasporans contributed US$50 and those in South Africa R2 000, which assisted in buying food. I don’t know what else the Diaspora group contributed though it can be meaningful.,” he said.
The MP said the community including the UK based team must feel acknowledged in his public posts.
“Everyone can be recognised in the preposition ‘we’ I used in my post. If I were to thank every individual, what of the villagers here who contributed their chickens. I am not seeking relevance as a politician, I am more of a social worker working for the transformation of infrastructure so locals access facilities,” Phuti said and insisted the clinic was started in 1953.
“This was before Robert Mugabe or Emmerson Mnangagwa, and certainly not Ian Smith but Godfrey Huggins who was prime minister then.”