HARARE – Our reporter Mugove Tafirenyika (MT) caught up with Charlton Hwende (CH) who is vying for the Chegutu West Constituency seat against Zanu PF’s Dexter Nduna.
MT: Who is Charlton Hwende?
CH: I am 38 years old, married with three children.
I am currently a member of the MDC national executive responsible for Mashonaland West Province.
I am a Christian who believes in God because he is the one governing this world.
I’m a very strong willed, cool and confident person and always prepared to listen to the opinions of others as long as my rights to life, liberty, or pursuit of happiness and that of others are not violated.
Charlton is someone who loves challenges in life.
I am a hard worker, responsible, serious person and I work best under pressure because without pressure and without expectation I won’t strive for enthusiasm!
MT: You are the MDC Mashonaland West national representative which position I guess goes with big responsibilities. We have heard about factionalism which has resulted in the suspension of some provincial members, how has the party dealt with these challenges ahead of elections on July 31?
CH. The leadership in the province is united behind our leader Dr Richard Morgan Tsvangirai.
We only hear of factions in Zanu PF and not in the MDC.
There are no factions in the party and what you are referring to are challenges that are synonymous with any democratic movement such as ours and we have since overcome that.
MT: Soon after your election as the party’s candidate for Chegutu West Constituency in the primary elections there were howls: “Rigged election!” What role did Nelson Chamisa play in your victory? We hear the two of you are close buddies.
CH: Wherever there is a competition, there is always a winner and a loser and there will always be howls which are consistent with the discomfort associated with losing.
I had many votes and I won both the election and results. I have known Chamisa for over two decades and to me he is not a friend but my brother and my leader.
Only the people of Chegutu had a role in the elections and they played that role by electing me as their candidate for Parliament.
MT: Talking about your candidature. You are contesting Chegutu West against Zanu PF’s Dexter Nduna, what new things have been missing in the constituency that you intend to improve on should you be elected?
CH: There are a lot of things that Chegutu is lagging in and I will spend the whole day talking about them.
I will just narrow them to three.
Firstly, Chegutu is still far in terms of road network infrastructure.
I will work tirelessly with the responsible ministry to ensure an upgrade of the road network.
Secondly, I will ensure that clean, running water is piped to all households and electricity is extended to most houses without.
My other port of call will be information technology.
Chegutu needs a technology centre because technology is the key to development.
Acquiring advanced technologies helped pull China and India out of the economic quagmire that they found themselves in and we believe Chegutu can draw lessons from the Asian technological revolution.
MT: What legislative agenda for your constituency should Zimbabweans look forward to in the next Parliament?
CH: In Parliament, my goal is to represent Chegutu West with distinction by striving to use the chambers of the Zimbabwe House of Assembly to prepare a new path for our country.
My energy will be focused on enshrining certain bedrock principles that are indispensable to peace and progress in a pluralistic society like ours which principles will be drawn from the overall main MDC manifesto upholding the principle of constitutionalism from the level of the constituency politics, the principle of democracy that ensures that people in my constituency are free to engage and constructively, criticise their leaders for the good of Chegutu.
I will push to ensure that as public office holders, there are mechanisms to ensure that we are accountable to our people as well as encouraging reconciliation and building bridges given the current polarisation of our society.
I will also work hard to elevate our House of Assembly to a chamber of sober reflection, gentle persuasion, robust analysis and essential compromise.
No nation can know lasting peace or progress until its public officials are fully accountable to the people and to law.
Hence, we must wage a peaceful revolution for the supremacy of law in all aspects of the Zimbabwean polity.
I intend to be one of the arrowheads of this peaceful revolution.
MT: What are your chances against Nduna whom we hear has a lot of financial resources against the backdrop of alleged underperformance by your fellow comrade and would be predecessor Takalani Matibe during his term?
CH: I am confident that I am going to win Chegutu West.
The people of Chegutu do not want to go back to Zanu PF. I am convinced that they know that voting for Zanu PF will be going backwards because that is now a party of yesteryear.
The main MDC is the party of the future. Nduna might have money yes, but his money is not going to bring bread on the table.
His money is not going to bring dinner on the table, his money is not going to create employment for the people.
His money is not going to help step Chegutu into the future.
His money is there to buy free beers for votes. There’s no future in his money.
MT: Being a member of the national executive in your party representing your province, what can you say are your targets in a province widely regarded as President Robert Mugabe’s Zanu PF stronghold and what are your chances in the presidential election?
CH: We are targeting all constituencies.
Mashonaland West has been diluted by change and people that it cannot be regarded as their stronghold anymore.
Tsvangirai will have a sweep through in this liberated province in the presidential election.
These days people are not easily fooled by money.
People want to be represented by someone who can bring real change to their livelihoods, someone who can better communities.
All these heavyweights have financial muscle yes, but they do not represent the people.
They do not represent what people want.
People want change and Ignatius Chombo for example, does not represent change.
He represents stagnation and personal aggrandisement. He and others you mentioned failed their constituencies a long time ago and thus they are past their sale by dates.
MT: What lessons have you learnt from your flirtation with student activism that you think helped you be the politician you are today?
CH: Actually it is not just that, but the human rights infringements, widespread poverty, economic dependence on other states, unstable government, high rate of unemployment, disease coupled with a government that has become clueless to these challenges have helped me be the politician I am today.
Student activism was just a stepping stone.
It widened my eyes to the vastness of our problems and provided fertile grounds for my involvement.
MT: Your last words to the people out there.
CH: Either within or outside of the House of Assembly, I shall not mortgage my conscience for filthy lucre and earthly possession.
Girding my loins with truth, I will strive for that which is noble and of good report before God and in the court of history.
I am counting on my leaders and friends for prayers and intellectual inputs to wage a successful campaign.
I am the man for the job for Chegutu West.
May God crown our efforts with resounding success.