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Masvingo gets first headman living with disability

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Masvingo gets first headman living with disability



MASVINGO – Masvingo Province is seeing probably it’s first ever headman living with disability after the installation of Cover Mugwadhi as headman Chimbani (Magudu) in December last year.
Mugwadhi (44) has partial eyesight and he attended a school for the blind.
Mugwadhi who is of the Chauke clan and Mlilo totem presides over an area that falls under Chief Nyajena but his area of jurisdiction is in both Chiredzi and Masvingo Rural districts.
The Mirror had an interview with Mugwadhi whose roles as a headman are to represent local government, protection of land from land barons and presiding over traditional courts. The determined Mugwadhi’s motto is disability is not inability.
Efforts to get a comment from Masvingo District Development Coordinator (DDC), Ray Hove were futile as his mobile phone was not answered.
A visually impaired consultant, Masimba Kuchera said the installation of headman Chimbani is an important and welcome development.
“It’s a welcome development and it’s a sign that the understanding of disability is changing where the community needs to look at what the person is able to do instead of what they are not able to do. We would also encourage other clans to do the same when it is possible to look at what a person can contribute to the community,” he said.
Chief Director for Traditional Leaders Support Services in the Ministry of Local Government and Public Works Felix Chikovo said they celebrate the traditional destination of Headman Chimbani.
He added that People Living With Disabilities and the girl child also need to be in positions of influence so that they articulate issues more appropriately than others do for them.
“Traditional leadership is guided by succession tradition and those successions are virtually scientific in that it specifies how one ascends to the throne. We celebrate those who will have been installed as they will be champions towards the promoting and preserving of our culture.
“In the past, it used to be a male child who was eligible and with the current constitution it’s no longer just the male side but every child. We are getting to a situation where we get to an eligible girl child. The discussions coming in are of succession tradition versus gender,” said Chikovo.
Mugwadhi’s appointment defied traditional norms as he landed the post against elder brothers in his family. He is the youngest in the family.
He told The Mirror that the clan chose him ahead of others because of his education and leadership qualities.
Mugwadhi says that the worst setback for People Living With Disabilities (PLWD) is not inability but discrimination and lack of empowerment through education.
“The hurdles against progress of People Living With Disabilities are obviously stiff. We are resisted and therefore it is difficult to rise. It is a ‘war’ for a PLWD to get to the top. We face the same challenges as are being addressed through gender but ours are worse.
“We need to have integrated communities against segregations of PLWD. PLWDs also need to know their rights,” Mugwadhi said.
He said although Government has programmes to address this, it lacks resources.
Mabel Machonesa, a woman Living With Disability said Mugwadhi is very intelligent.
“I am physically challenged, I work with Mugwadhi in several areas, he leads people living with disabilities in Masvingo at the Consumer Council of Zimbabwe, Health Centre Committee and is a member of the National League for the blind,” she said.
Mugwadhi has qualifications in Theology obtained from Nehemiah Bible Institute in Harare and Cornerstone Bible Institute in Kwekwe. He also has a qualification in Computer Programming. Such qualifications are not common among village heads, headmen and chiefs. Many traditional leaders are either illiterate or semi-illiterate.
He is planning to advance his education and do a Special Needs Program with the University of Zimbabwe.
“My appointment is unusual; I am the youngest in the family and I live with a disability. Instead of appointing an elder brother, I was appointed. The family did not look at my disability, they considered my leadership qualities, knowledge and education and the value that I would add to the community,” said Mugwadhi.
Indeed Mugwadhi has a track record in leadership.
“I represented People Living with Disabilities at the Consumer Council of Zimbabwe. I am a leader for Masvingo PWDs at Health Centre, and a church leader at Christ Life in Masvingo. I am also a member of the National League for the blind. At school I was head boy at Capota,” he said. Mugwadhi is also a musician who has released six albums.
Apostle Blessing Musindo, a woman congregant at Christ Life Church described Headman Chimbani as a God fearing person who is committed to God’s work.
One notable person living with disabilities who made it as traditional leader is Nelson Sculptor from Binga.
Mugwadhi’s wife Irene who is an A Level Accounts teacher at Mucheke High School said her husband is intelligent and is God fearing.
Mugwadhi has four children namely Gabriel, Rachel, Jael and Michelle.

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