By Xolisani Ncube and Gift Phiri
HARARE – Edward Chindori-Chininga, the Zanu PF lawmaker for Guruve South, had already written up his life-threatening car accident last year, but the former Mines minister could not have predicted the final chapter of the story.
On Wednesday night, Chindori-Chininga — who was the chairperson of the parliamentary portfolio committee on Mines and Energy — was killed in a freak car crash along Raffingora-Guruve road. The cause of Chindori-Chininga’s death was not immediately apparent and a routine autopsy was scheduled.
Authorities said they did not suspect foul play. Charity Charamba, national police spokesperson, said preliminary investigations suggested that the outspoken legislator could have failed to negotiate a turn, resulting in him ramming into a tree.
Yesterday, family spokesperson Jemister Chininga, the deceased’s young brother, said they were stunned to receive news of his death.
“We are now waiting for a post mortem which was supposed to be done today but will only be conducted tomorrow,” he told the Daily News. “From there, as a family, we will then have a way forward.”
Another family member who spoke on condition of anonymity for fear of victimisation said the injuries the former minister sustained were not consistent with a road accident and the damages to his car.
A Daily News crew visited the accident scene and the wreck of his Jeep Cherokee was being towed away from the accident scene, 7km before Guruve. Police officers and bewildered villagers were frantically trying to tow the vehicle to the nearest police station in Guruve.
A shop-attendant, who declined to be named, said she was woken up by a huge bang as the ex-minister’s vehicle rammed into a giant tree. She said she found Chindori-Chininga alive but trapped in the wreckage. She said he died 10 minutes later.
Mystery surrounds two other people who were said to be in the same car.
Family members yesterday were openly questioning the role of the two men who were said to be in the car or near the car when the accident occurred. But police insisted yesterday that he was alone and the accident was purely human error. Police claim this was the seventh accident he was involved in.
A woman who arrived 10 minutes after the accident said she only saw Chininga. She said she was surprised how he failed to negotiate the corner “which he was used to for his entire political life”.
“I woke up around 7:30 pm after hearing a bang outside, I was afraid thinking that maybe there were robbers outside,” she told the Daily News. “However, I was shocked only to find that it was the honourable MP who needed help. I called other villagers who rushed to the scene and pulled him out from the damaged car but he could not make it.”
Another villager questioned how the ex-minister failed to engage brakes as there were no skid marks whatsoever on the surface.
At his home in Christon Bank, a small group of mourners was at the house, including Vice President Joice Mujuru, Deputy Prime Minister Arthur Mutambara and minister Savior Kasukuwere. Chindori-Chininga’s distraught wife Linda was in a state of shock with Mujuru trying to console the weeping widow.
Mujuru said she had on the same day accepted his curriculum vitae for re-election in Guruve where he was squaring off with three other candidates.
“I asked myself ‘why Chindori, how can you do this to the party?’” Mujuru said. “I was so shocked because we knew he would make it in our primaries.”
Kasukuwere described him as a man “who was approachable and aired his views freely”.
Lawmakers from both parties and across the country said yesterday they will miss Chindori-Chininga, a feisty bastion of liberal ideals.
Lovemore Moyo, Speaker of House of Assembly said he was a better person for having known him, and Zimbabwe is a better place for Chindori-Chininga’s service in the legislature.
“He was a fine and humble person, non controversial, forthcoming in terms of his work as chair of portfolio committee on Mines and Energy,” Moyo told the Daily News.
“He did very well, knew his subject, given his experience he acquired when he was serving as a Cabinet minister. It’s a loss to Parliament in terms of his knowledge.”
Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai said he reacted to news of Chindori-Chininga’s passing with “great sadness” saying he was a fine man who served his nation honourably.
“Hon. Chindori Chininga earned enemies from his own party for his unrelenting demand for transparency in the mining and trading of Marange diamonds,” Tsvangirai said.
“His committee became a thorn in the flesh of government officials and bosses of companies mining in Marange who were piqued by the committee’s diligence and dedication to ensuring that the country benefitted from Marange diamonds.”
Martin Dinha, Mashonaland Central governor who escaped an assassination attempt last weekend, said the province, was “deeply saddened” by his death.
“He was one of the very few politicians who worked so hard for the development of the party and the generality of his supporters,” he said.
“He was an honest person who spoke his mind out and could defend his thoughts without fear and favour. He respected the party’s leadership but was not bullied so easily.” Daily News