John Moyo in Zimbabwe
Service delivery champion and Citizens advocate, Taurai Demo (TD) says he has observed many mistakes made by current public office bearers and he is ready to rectify them if chosen by the citizens of Gweru. However, NGO Africa Watch, Zimbabwe Correspondent John Moyo (JM) caught up with the Former Deputy Mayor of Gweru, to understand, what motivates Mr Demo to stay humble, strong and passionate in safeguarding the rights and wills of citizens. Below are extracts of the interview with NGO Africa Watch.
JM: Can you give us a brief background about yourself.
TD: I was born and breed at Gutu were the most popular national leaders were moulded. Completed my primary and secondary education in Bikita while living with my grandmother, who always taught me to serve the people. Am currently the Finance and Administration Officer of Gweru Residents and Ratepayers Association (GRRA) and Former Deputy Mayor of Gweru between from 2008 to 2013. Have a Masters in Strategic Management and Corporate Governance, Honours degree in Business Management, Post graduate diploma in education and higher diploma in Accountancy (SAAA).
JM: What motivated you to be the voice of the voiceless in Gweru community and at large?
TD: In 2008, I told myself that I will run for a council or parliamentary seat because I have observed that most countries are stagnant because of an ageing leadership. There is no innovation because you obviously cannot teach an old dog new tricks. It is easier for the young generation to adapt to a new thinking and practice because that is what we thrive on. The composition in all levels of government, previously and now, does not have young people, so no one can address their grievances.
There is a disconnection in our expectations and those who stand for us in government. I realised that there is need for fresh blood and experience to stand up for themselves. We need to see ourselves gunning for change, who are strong and passionate about citizen’s plight so that we create a Gweru that is progressive. We need FRESH BLOOD and commitment if we are to move forward as citizens.
JM: Where does your inspiration come from?
TD: I realised that most of the time, people talk, but politicians never listen. When they go to the people, they make promises and disregard the fact that people also have a say in how they should be governed. My reason of entering into advocacy is to listen to what the people are saying and act upon that.
JM: Tell us the secret behind your popularity among Gweru citizens?
TD: The truth is (laughing) I have no secret. I engage the public almost every day through meetings because of the voluntary projects I do under Gweru Residents and Ratepayers Association. I believe that the residents know what they want and how it should be done, so I am giving them a platform to express themselves. At the same time, I help my community in many projects that improve their livelihoods, education and health. Currently am serving as, the School Development Committee Chairperson at Shungu High School, Thornhill high school and Chaplin high school. I once served as the Chairperson at St Michael Catholic Church and currently vice secretary at St Josephs Guild at Denery Level as well as Board Member at Gweru Polytechnic College.
At the same time, during my tenure as Deputy Mayor of Gweru between 2008-2013 was, reopening of clinics at Mtapa, Mkoba 1 poly clinic and Ivene, Introduction of city parking – employment creation and restoration of parking order in the city, bought new pumps for Gwenhoro for the first time since its inception in 1943, which improved our pumping capacity and drilling of boreholes in all 18 wards. Weekend flea markets at Gweru Old Post Office Building, Swift Road and Oppositie Rural police station to improve livelihoods of citizens, Mkoba 14 housing projects in partnership with FBC Bank which provided housing to more than 200 families to name a few. And every day I walk in the streets of Gweru I feel proud for the impact I made.
JM: Which other projects do you have lined-up?
JM: The projects must come from the people because they know what they want, we do not want to impose projects on them. But one of the key things that I want to do is to create local economies where people create their own businesses, enterprises, employment, my part will be to make sure we create a conducive environment that will allow them to do that. So far, as a humble businessmen in the city. We have created Aspiration Village for 300 small to medium enterprises with particular focus on women and youths. However, we believe 300 is not enough to satisfy our current population and I am engaging Gweru City Council to offer the land to accommodate more than 3000 aspiring business persons.
JM: What are the expectations of the citizens of Gweru?
TD: A strong relationship of working together. I do not want to promise people things that I might not be able to deliver . I want to approach problems in Gweru from a citizen perspective. People have the solutions, I want to listen to what they want, then, prioritise and see what is deliverable. We must change from the politics of promising, I condone politicking because once a politician makes promises, and the community ultimately becomes a slave to them and wait upon them to deliver. I stand for empowering the community because they are the major stakeholders. I am purely a citizen nothing more or less.