With a political career starting back in 1960, Christopher Lovemore Mbanga is one of the most experienced politicians sitting in the current council. He’s been active in the country’s political scene since pre-independent Zimbabwe, serving as a chief whip in the Rhodesia-Zimbabwe Parliament. Now he is the councillor for Ward 8, covering the neighbourhood of Highlands. Harare News caught up with Councillor Mbanga to find out more about the man.
What is your background?
I was born in September 1943 in Rusape. I went to St Joseph Primary School in Rusape and Kutama College for my secondary education and high school. I attained a Civil Service Higher Law Diploma, African Customs and Administration in 1967. I also studied Sales Management in 1989. Basically, I am a seasoned administrator and manager. That is where my strength is. I am now retired but I am heavily involved in community affairs and sport.
Why did you choose to stand for councillor?
I was approached by the residents of Ward 8. The reasons they said to me was that I was the first black person to live in Highlands. I came here in 1978. I think they were tired of getting people from other areas to come and represent their interests so they approached me.
Have you held a political post before?
I started politics at a very early age in 1960 with the formation of the Democratic Party. I went on to ZAPU holding various positions, then on to ZANU at its formation. I moved to ANC, which later on became the UNAC and I was one of the first black members of parliament in 1979 under the Zimbabwe-Rhodesia parliament. In fact I was the chief whip.
What developments are you planning to bring to your constituency?
My development plans include a wide range of issues, among them repairing all ward roads, rehabilitating our shopping centres, clearing and maintaining drainage systems and revamping of streets lights. The developmental plans will incorporate all stakeholders. I would also like to come up with a home ownership scheme for workers in the residential homes.
How are you going to implement your development plans considering the economic hardships affecting the City?
Yes, we are facing very serious economic hardships but given that situation we need to do things that are within our scope, things that do not require a lot of money. Just cleaning the city alone does not require a lot of money, even the collection of garbage. I would suggest that the trucks that are used be stationed at the ward district offices so that if there are any problems, for example in the provision of fuel, residents can chip in.
Service delivery has been poor in the past years, should residents expect changes for better or for worse?
Residents should expect changes for the better. Fortunately we are on the same plane with the local government minister. If the officials are going to listen then there will be service delivery but if they do not want to listen action has to be taken.
What used to be the Sunshine City is now marked with dirt and litter everywhere, how do you plan to solve that in your constituency?
Firstly, we need to enforce the existing by-laws because they are the ones that brought us the Sunshine City that there used to be. Secondly, we have a problem of rural to urban migration of people. My appeal is for government to create industries in the rural areas to create jobs to try and arrest the migration. People are coming into the city hoping to find jobs which are not here and people end up engaging in all sorts of activities, creating a very difficult situation for the people and the City.
How will you address the issue of unemployment in your constituency?
I will encourage people to form co-operatives and home based industries to do what is being done in the industries at a small scale. People should be assisted to form knitting clubs and other ventures.
You were elected by the people to represent them. How can they communicate with you?
I am in the process of setting up the Highlands Development Committee, which should have representation of all stakeholders including residents, churches, police, council and the business community. I am also negotiating with council for an office at the Highlands District Offices.
Residents can call Chris on 0772 516 703 or email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.