One of Robert Mugabe’s loyal men, Former Minister of Education and Culture, Aeneas Chigwedere, who lost to a political novice in the ruling Zanu-PF party’s primaries, has quit politics.
from our correspondent in Harare
He has opted, instead, to trade his ministerial suits for traditional regalia as a village headman in Wedza.
Chigwedere says he has finally answeed “to call by his ancestors and
family members” to take up traditional responsibility and lead his people
as Headman Mubaiwa.
Chigwedere, a former high school headmaster presided over Zimbabwe’s collapsing educational system
He received the traditional headman’s regalia among his people – a tiger skin, walking stick and head-dress at a ceremony presided over by the Deputy Minister of Local Government, Morris Sakabuya.
Born in Wedza in 1939 Chigwedere said he took the decision to become a chief after he received a call by his ancestors to do duty for his ancestors.
He appeared on state television sitting on a reed mat as his new status as a headman was bestowed on him amid ululating by female relatives.
Speculation was immediately rife the former government minister had realized his political career had effectively come to an end.
Even Mugabe who does not usually single out individual ministers for public censure, reprimanded Chigwedere for having failed the local educational sector.
Chigwedere is one of the many so-called ruling Zanu-PF party heavyweights who lost in the Zanu-PF primaries ahead of the elections which coincided with coincided with his instalment on Saturday.
They include former provincial governor Dzikamai Mavhaire, and former ministers, Samuel Mumbengwegwi, Rugare Gumbo, and David Chapfika, who all lost in the primaries as a result of the waning ruling Zanu-PF support.
Chigwedere created controversy and invited criticism when he suggested as minister of education that Zimbabwean schools should all have the same uniform and for attempting to change the name schools that he said bore colonial name.
He pushed through Parliament a law that empowers the minister to regulate the fees charged by government as well as private schools.
Chigwedere, a traditionalist, upheld a primary school headmaster’s decision to expel a 7-year old Rastafarian boy because he felt that the boy’s dreadlocks did not conform to the school’s dress code. The decision was overturned by the Supreme Court.
He leaves a blighted educational system defined by the loss of thousands of school teachers who have left for greener pastures, a high school drop-out rate, poor pass rates and a generally declining standard of education.
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