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Eddison Zvobgo Jnr seems to be finding it difficult to retrace his father’s political footsteps. If recent developments are anything to go by, it would appear that the late maverick politician and national hero, Eddison Jonasi Mudadirwa Zvobgo’s shoes are proving to be too big to fill for his namesake and one of his surviving children. While his father was a shrewd politician, who combined his charisma and liberation war credentials to survive the rough and tumble of politics, the late Zvobgo’s son has struggled to make an impact even at provincial level.

Twice, Eddison Jnr has failed to win a ticket to represent ZANU-PF in the National Assembly. He has failed to go past the primary elections in Masvingo Central where he has twice lost to incumbent Member of Parliament, Edmund Mhere. Recently, he was booted out of the provincial executive, after it had emerged that he did not qualify to hold the position. While he has in the past attempted to endear himself with the rank and file in ZANU-PF through his generosity, that has done little to grow his political muscle.

When Mhere kicked ZANU-PF from its rented offices last year, Zvobgo Jnr was on hand to donate office space to the revolutionary party at its time of need. It was the second time that he had come to the rescue of the party in its office woes. In 2008, he once donated office space after the party had been evicted by an Indian property owner over failure to pay rentals. But he has since learnt that one good turn does not automatically deserve another after he lost his post of provincial secretary for legal affairs to Teddy Muzorodza. ZANU-PF’s national party spokesperson, Rugare Gumbo said Masvingo Central — from where Zvobgo Jnr hails — only had an allocation for one individual in the provincial structure, and this went to Mhere. Commenting on his recent ouster, Zvobgo Jnr said he was a victim of factionalism in Masvingo province.

“I am yet to see the letter. I will only comment on that after receiving the letter because there are (factional) fights in the province,” he told the Financial Gazette last week. Whether he eventually receives the letter or not, the sudden turn of events has had the effect of denting Zvobgo Jnr’s political ambitions. While some high profile ZANU-PF politicians’ children successfully followed their fathers’ footsteps, like the late vice president Simon Muzenda’s last born Tongai, who won in Gutu West and is now Deputy Minister of Public Service, Labour and Social Welfare, and his sister Tsitsi Muzenda (Gweru Chirumanzu Senator), Zvobgo Jnr is struggling to tap into his father’s political legacy.

Born in October 1935, Zvobgo Snr was one of the founding members of ZANU-PF and spokesperson of the Patriotic Front at the Lancaster House negotiations in late 1979. Zvobgo played a key role in international negotiations at Lancaster House that ended the bitter bush war and led to British-sponsored all race elections ahead of independence in 1980. He impressed many in the international press with his quick repartee and astute analysis of the negotiations. In the 1980 elections, he won a seat in parliament for Masvingo, which he continued to hold until his death.

He was an influential member of Zimbabwe’s first fully independent cabinet, who held various portfolios until his demise. He was minister for local government and housing until 1982, and minister for justice until 1985. As minister of parliamentary and constitutional affairs, in 1987 he made several amendments to the Constitution that concentrated power in the hands of the President and moved Zimbabwe towards a one-party state. Initially, a staunch supporter of ZANU-PF policies, in later years he criticised President Robert Mugabe’s rule. In 1992, Zvobgo was moved to the less influential post of minister of mines.

In 1996, he survived a car accident, in which both his legs were broken. Shortly after the accident he was demoted to minister without portfolio, and, in 2000, was dropped from the cabinet altogether. Zvobgo died in 2004 at the age of 69 after a long illness. Analysts this week said it does not always follow that if one’s father was successful in any field, it would be passed on to their children.

“It is not always the case of ‘like father like son’. The son may not be as talented as the father in that field. One can be a soccer star and his offspring may be a star in basketball,” said a political analyst. In business, Zvobgo Jnr also inherited an empire left by his father consisting of a chain of hotels — Fairmile in Gweru and the Chevron, Regency Flamboyant and The Ritz Night Club in Masvingo. But the hotels need a major facelift.

And 10 years after his death, the late Zvobgo Snr must be turning in his grave because of the dilapidated state of the properties. His father, a successful businessman and Harvard-trained lawyer, was known for his acerbic wit, was very popular in the length and breadth of the province and nationally. But Zvobgo Jnr, also a lawyer by profession, has failed to ride on the wave of popularity left by his father as he lacks political charisma, in sharp contrast to his father who left behind a lasting legacy.

Source : Financial Gazette

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