“Kays” as they called him was son to a Gushungo who migrated from Serima and my gogo a Muturikwa whose parents possibly migrated from Mrehwa. He was born in 1945, across the river from Prime Minister’s home. Surprisingly that is as far as their similarities go because had he been alive, he would not vote for MDC-T today. This man who forever will be revered as a hero in my memory was disabled. It was not an inborn disability, but something happened to his right lower leg when he was young. Up to the day he died, he had not been able to discuss with me nor my siblings regards to what really happened. All I know is that it was a fire accident.
Kays believed in the revolutionary movement’s focus on policies that improve lives of the common man. He would always urge Zanu (PF) to go back to roots to emphasise on such policies to lure lost votes. “It will be a walkover on these directionless boys” he argued with me on his deathbed at Parerinyatwa. He belonged to a generation who had wanted to participate in liberation struggle but failed because of various reasons. They mobilised students, recruits, provided clothes and other support. Such a class faced wrath of Smith regime accused of being lifeblood to the comrades and withholding information. These professionals played their part but never clamoured for recognition to date.
After completing Standard 6 (Form 2) he trained as a teacher at Wadilove Mission (Marondera) in 1972 where he met my mother who was from Bumburwi. He stayed in the same profession till his end in 2009. Through correspondence he attained O levels , Grad CE and later BA Hons. As a primary school teacher working in rural areas, he knew that the only way societies can improve is through education. He worked hard through disability to send his children to get descent education. Free education policy of the 1990s produced a Zimbabwe which is rated to have above average literacy world over. Kays although an executive, believed that militants in ZIMTA led to the first teachers’ strike in 1990 and had no care for teachers or students welfare at all. Post 1990 period saw introduction of school fees and cases started appearing of children dropping out or being unable to write exams because of lack of funds. He always felt that IMF demands for government to slash social services bill (ESAP) was a way of West getting even with Mugabe.
The fire accident deformed his right leg such that his toes turned towards the heel to form a round like foot developing into a very thin sheen up the leg. So to speak he stepped on the top of his foot. That leg became shorter. At times he used clutches until Jairos Jiri organised a special shoe for him. From Bata shops, he would buy a pair of size 11 but only use the left one. That special shoe could only be repaired but he could not buy a new one. Courtesy of Mugabe’s health policy, more disadvantaged people like him during years after independence could always be treated for free regardless of medical needs. UK has maintained a similar socialist health policy to date. The number of health clinics opened country wide, more medical professionals training, building of toilets in rural areas, access to clean water all pointed to a caring leader in Mugabe.
The Land Question
Just like many, he was frustrated that the Lancaster House Agreement put land redistribution on hold for 10 years. Worse still after that period, Mugabe was frustrated into being unable to fulfil pre-war time period promises to resettle masses from reserves as apportioned by Land Apportionment Act 1930. When farm invasions started in 2000, all Kays said was “Commercial Farmers’ Union have shot themselves in the foot.” CFU never thought farms could be taken away from them. White farmers believed in the Courts which continued to make decisions against land redistribution. To date land redistribution has continued and although chaotic, people’s lives have been changed.
Zanu (PF) legacy is open to interpretation but Kays would always look beyond negatives. He believed that “honourable” is the best way regard Mugabe. A Politburo Member recently summarized Zanu (PF) legacy to me as “Land, Empowerment, Development creation, Sustained support for farmers and reform to mining sector” .Even after formation of GNU, the revolutionary party pulled indigenization policy which in theory seeks to put control of economy in the hands of locals. The mining sector has also been opened up to allow local ownership. I do not see MDC-T pulling out any of the landmark policies to convince voters. This is the reason why penetration to the rural areas has been sketchy for Harvest House arrogant overrated under-achievers.
Kays was appointed acting headmaster closer to his home in 1985 but by then he was already involved in running elections. He would later work as presiding officer in charge of polling centers Talk of Zanu (PF) vote rigging was doing rounds by 1990 elections. Edgar Tekere gave Mugabe a run for his cash and many expected a surprise. Results later indicated that “Two-Boy” Tekere actually lost dismally. I put it to him then about vote rigging and to the day he died, he maintained the answer he gave me 19 years before. He explained the system to me, how each candidate’s representatives verify boxes before they are sealed and sign to agree authenticity. The same happens when opening the boxes and counting the ballots. He believed that in the system run by Mudede, there is no way any rigging can happen. He reminded me that rigging could affect Mugabe as well and as such the system had to be water tight. I believed him and still can argue that it is possible Zanu (PF) has never rigged elections to this day.
Enemy No. 1
Landmark policies as he viewed them are a good enough weapon to win any elections. Zanu (PF) is presenting voters to MDCs on a platter, credit to enemy No1 -violence. There is no need for violence because in a “free and fair” conducted poll, Kays in his grave still argues that “Zvimba” can claim the gong. Use of force blinds folds people from looking at facts on the ground. By forcing people not to vote for other parties or for Zanu (PF), proponents of violence will be confessing to a weakness in policy. This frustrated Kays so much because he believed that Mugabe has over the years built a case to uplift generations in Zimbabwe. During 2008 elections people voted for anything other than Zanu (PF).They don’t even know their MPs’ names to date. This hatred is an offspring of violence. Kays was not sure if violence is official policy at Zanu (PF) but believed that strategists may as well accept that as much as countering MDCs, they have to plot against violence. It is a corroding the party from within and only Mugabe can stamp his foot on this. No matter how much people bleed, get houses burnt or bury the dead, days are gone that force will bring in votes.
By mid-2009 aged 64 he had not been admitted to hospital in 50 years but complained of shortness of breath, later turned out to be Pulmonary Embolism. His veins and arteries were developing blood clots caused by a violent form of Pancreatic Cancer. The deformed leg soon developed Gangrene. Six weeks later Vascular Surgeons in Harare recommended amputation of the affected leg but ended up cutting off both legs and the right arm. Gangrene had spread over all those parts. He never woke up from the operating table. 10 days before his death I implied to him that shortages in hospital supplies required for his treatment were as a result of his irresponsible vote for Zanu (PF). Even though knowing that with Stage 4 Cancer, his chances of survival were below 20%, at a moment when walls of his heart were weakening due to excessive use of Morphine, he reassured me that Mugabe had not yet finished the job he started. He refused to condemn the beloved party he regarded as saviour of the masses. He argued that GNU would allow Mugabe to focus on people again.
True to that word, I think Mugabe is back. Just open your eyes to what Kays called “Landmark Policies” and you can witness people’s lives changing.
R.I.P my idol because your institution par excellence may still be in the game.