by Tawanda Musariri
Magunje is one of the four constituencies in Hurungwe District of Mashonaland West, some 200km west of Zimbabwe’s capital, Harare. Magunje is famed for tobacco farming, it’s a leading producer of the golden leaf.
Harare Post (HP) caught up with aspiring candidate for the constituency Cde Cecil Kashiri (CK) and discovered who this Zanu PF ambassador is and what he is seeing on the horizon for his chosen constituency.
HP: Cde Kashiri, an election is coming our way in three weeks, for starters, may you tell us who Cecil Kashiri is?
CK: I was born at Magunje Clinic. I went to Kebvunde School and Karoi Junior for my primary education. Thereafter I proceeded to Jameson High School in Kadoma in 1986. From Jameson High School, I enrolled at Harare Polytechnic College where I studied Marketing, earning a Higher National Diploma upon graduation.
Upon leaving Harare Polytechnic, I worked for various companies in different marketing and sales capacities. Among the organisations I worked for are; Victoria Foods, Zimbabwe Sugar Refineries, Rufaro Marketing and currently I am Operations Director at Moldon Marketing which specialises in foodstuff supply chain logistics and catering equipment. I am also an astute businessman in my own right as I have been running grocery shops and entertainment clubs for years. Currently, I am pursuing a Masters in Business Administration degree with a reputable local university.
HP: How did your relationship with the revolutionary party started?
CK: Having been raised to a couple who are loyal to Zanu PF, I started my political career as a teenager at Kanyati District in Magunje Constituency. While moving jobs, I joined the Zanu PF Youth League while I worked in Mutare. I became a member of the Main Branch as Secretary for Transport and later moved to Secretary for Education, a position I still hold presently at Kanyati District in Ward 11.
HP: Your vision for Magunje Constituency?
CK: My first assignment will be to identify and complete projects that were left unfinished by the previous MP where Constituency Development Funds had been injected. My tenure will be mainly focused on self sustaining projects. This will empower the locals. Since Magunje has an agro based macro economy I will get actively involved in Command farming projects which include but not limited to fisheries, poultry and livestock and make sure these are implemented sustainably.
I will upgrade clinics and drill more boreholes and make sure more portable water is availed during my tenure in pursuit of the Sustainable Development Goals. We will exploit the mineral resources in the constituency to benefit locals hence community share ownership schemes will be developed and managed by the local communities.
HP: What long term plans if any, do you have for Magunje?
CK: I will want to see us building the first secondary boarding school in the constituency and an Agricultural College or Teachers college. There is need for us to arrest the deforestation being caused by tobacco farming. We need to invest in tobacco curing centres which will use coking coal, therefore it will be prudent for us to link Magunje well by the most cost effective transport networks to allow the haulage of this important fuel.
HP: You have mentioned your desire to build an agricultural college, why have you particularly chosen such an investment for the constituency?
CK: As mentioned earlier, Magunje has an agro-based macro economy. An agricultural college will capacitate our farming communities to reap more value on the tobacco value chain through sustainable models of farming. With expert driven knowledge systems, tobacco agriculture will not be a white elephant courtesy of deforestation and the eventual lack of firewood fuel which is threatening viability of this crop in my constituency as we speak. Also note that we are driving into devolution and as the President Cde Emmerson Mnangagwa rightly pointed in Chegutu in June, we need to develop a self sustaining devolved constituency with its own academic institutions to drive the development agenda. Knowledge is a critical driver of development.
HP: Zanu PF has lately been talking of empowerment of previously marginalized groups. What’s your take on this subject?
CK: I am a card carrying member of Zanu PF and a strong believer in the empowerment of the locals through resources available to them, I believe Magunje Growth Point has the potential to grow given the necessary representation, which I can ably give. I foresee town status for Magunje Growth point in the horizon. I take special note of the recently opened banks targeting Women and Youths, during my tenure, I will see to it that the services of these two special institutions do not escape my constituency.
My long held zeal to represent my people was sharpened at Boka Tobacco Auction Floors where I was a Warehouse Manager and got to interact with many locals who came to sell their tobacco and understood their various areas of need. These pushed me to represent and empower them.
HP: How did you venture into business and politics considering that you are a career professional?
CK: Like many young Zimbabweans then, in the early 2000s, I left for the UK as a matter of conforming to the fashion of the day. The nostalgia of the beauty of home and its accompanying freedoms drove me back in no time. On arrival, I tucked myself into business where I helped my community in any way I could afford.
The goodwill I poured into the community earned me admiration, which saw me being eventually pressured to stand as candidate as early as 2008. I declined twice, intending not to squander this reciprocated goodwill, banking myself for the future. My intention was to study the community well so I would be able to respond to its needs sufficiently as well as driving its agenda in parliament.
HP: And your family? Any children?
CK: Oh yes, I am married to Ellah Shoniwa, a woman of increasing beauty, and we have 4 lovely children.
HP: You are not the only candidate contesting in Magunje constituency, what makes you the most preferred candidate ahead of others?
CK: I have mentioned earlier my clear understanding of the aspirations, dreams, challenges and potential of my people. I am part of this community, I was born in it and have represented it both at personal and professional levels. With my experiences as a local growing up in Magunje, I can easily identify myself with local traditional and institutional leadership. With my marketing background I will put Magunje on the international economic radar.
I have the requisite potential to market Magunje to the world. I am eloquent with them and eloquent to the world, for them. Magunje is open for business.