A dark cloud eclipsed the warm sunshine in Ward 16 on 21 July, when our councillor, Mr Lancelot Sunshine Munorwei Mudavanhu, passed away at Parirenyatwa hospital after two months of spirited fighting. Councillor Mudavanhu represented Harare residents from the suburbs of Mabelreign, Haig Park, Cotswold Hills, Meyrick Park, Sentosa, Greencroft, Sunridge/Sunrise, Sherwood Park, Mayfield Park, Ashdown Park, Bloomingdale, Bluff Hill Park, Tynwald, Westlea, Lenana Park, Matidoda Park and Sanganayi Park.
Born in Murehwa on 11 September 1954, Councillor Mudavanhu was a uniquely equipped and seasoned local governance practitioner, having been formally trained in it and working in the Ministry of Local Government from 1980–1994.
I first met Councillor Mudavanhu in 2006 when I joned the then Harare North District of the MDC T where he was active. In 2008, he was elected councillor for Harare’s Ward 16 which, together with Ward 41, is one of the two wards in Harare West Constituency for which I was simultaneously elected MP in the 2008 House of Assembly. He was re-elected in 2013 and continued as Zimbabwe’s only person living with disability to be directly elected to any office whether municipal or parliamentary.
As an urban MP, my constituents’ primary demands are municipal services delivery and are therefore local government sensitive. I thus worked closely with the councillor in what was a symbiotic and complementary relationship. I enjoyed working with him as he was ever the pragmatist, the can-do man who brought calm and sobriety to often volatile situations in his very dignified but focussed and tenacious manner. Indeed, I relied on him to move mountains such as securing council buy-in for my project to build a community hall to donate to council which, due to the epic unresponsiveness of council’s bureaucracy took 4 years and counting.
Councillor Mudavanhu was the efficient, committed and principled treasurer of my 2011 Constituency Development Fund Committee, which accomplished the following public impact and enduring projects in Ward 16 and 41: drilled boreholes in Sherwood Drive, Ashdown Park, Marlborough Civic Centre and Chichera Plot; repaired the Haig Park borehole; electrified Westlea Primary School; furnished and refurbished Mabelreign and Marlborough council clinics; as well as repairing the public toilets at Greencroft, Marlborough Civic Centre and Mabelreign.
Councillor Mudavanhu and his election agent Cosmas Kamba, spent election day on 31 July 2013 under police arrest for spurious charges arising from parallel voter tabulation using forms I had supplied, though the police failed to arrest me too. They were duly acquitted with the help of Obey Shava of Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights. Councillor Mudavanhu’s wife Chipo was my Chief Polling Agent and soldiered on in her usual manner as a pillar of support for her husband’s council work.
Cllr Mudavanhu did not have a council office and magnanimously opened his home to ward residents who would constantly stream in and out to discuss service delivery, or just to have a chat. A highlight of his career as councillor, which showed his mettle, was in 2010 when he was acting mayor for Harare. In his 10 day reign he made sure to file a police report against the then Local Government Minister Ignatius Chombo for alleged abuse of public office to acquire vast tracts of land in Harare. He was persecuted for this and needless to say the case was not pursued.
He leaves behind his wife of 36 years Chipo, four children and five grandchildren. He will be missed. Rest In Peace.
Written by Jessie Majome – Member of Parliament for Harare West.