People in Gutu North constituency have criticised their Member of Parliament (MP) Yeukai Simbanegavi whom they say has done nothing towards the development of the area for the seven months she has been their representative.
Many villagers accuse Simbanegavi, who is the Deputy Minister of Youth, Sports, Arts and Recreation, of making all the right promises in the run-up to last year’s elections but only to disappear when she won the seat.
Tafadzwa Chindito of Mazhawidza Village in Ward 12 said he was not impressed by Simbanegavi’s performance, accusing her of making fake promises to secure victory.
"I voted for the first time in last year`s elections hoping for the improvement of our area especially with regards to the upliftment of the youth. I was convinced that electing a youthful MP like Simbanegavi would make a difference but all that seems to have been a mirage. She won the elections by implementing short-term projects that made us believe she was for real.
“She gave us chicks during the election period to kick start our own poultry projects. Unfortunately we all failed in the projects because many of the chicks died and others stunted as we did not have enough feed,” said Shumba.
He said when Simbanegavi was named deputy Youth minister, he thought it was another opportunity for her to do more for people in the constituency.
Gutu North is a constituency with a myriad of problems that include perennial water shortages, a poor road system, few secondary schools, poor and few heath facilities.
A villager from Ward 10, which covers such areas as Chitsa and Makudo, said every post-election period was always a Damascene moment in Gutu North as all the preceding euphoria would give way to crude realities.
"There is much hope during elections and a lot of promises are made but they always come to naught. It is a cycle of the same thing happening over and over again. During her campaign, the current MP seemed to understand our struggles better than the previous ones.
“We got some secondhand clothes and there were some day-old chicks for those who were selected for the poultry projects. It was really a good initiative to reduce poverty had she done it with consistency," said the villager.
Proper Chaputsira from Ward 13 said Zanu PF politicians who campaign in rural areas always have it easy since they never receive as much censure as those from the opposition.
"We have had many of them coming and going. Simbanegavi is no exception; she just rode on her association with the ruling party which hardly feels threatened by the opposition in rural communities. She promised to give us grinding mill vouchers, fence for co-operatives, drill boreholes and provide capital for chicken projects but there is no progress on the ground.
“We haven’t heard from her or seen her since she was declared winner in July last year. Our dip tanks are old and rundown. She promised to work to have the Gutu- Mataruse road surfaced but we have not seen anything happening up to now," said Chaputsira.
Other villagers said the strongest opposition for Zanu PF politicians in rural areas was their own internal politics within the ruling party.
“Once you outmaneuver every other rival in the party and secure the party’s mandate in primary elections, your political destiny becomes secure. There is not much opposition to the ruling party after their own primary elections because people here are afraid. There might not be obvious intimidation but people have long understood the importance of voting ‘wisely’ to avoid security risks,” said a school teacher under Headman Makumbe.
When TellZim News phoned her, Simbanegavi said 120 youth were currently working on Gutu- Mataruse dusty road putting tar, but that was not the situation on the ground as the road is just as it has always been.
“We are currently working on the Gutu-Mataruse. As we, speak 120 youths have been employed and are on the ground working on it.
“On the issue of income generating projects, I advise people in my constituency to write proposals then I will assist from there. We don’t dictate on the type on projects to be done. The current economic situation in the country is a challenge, but I am trying my level best to meet the promises,” said Simbanegavi.