The Sunday News
Walter Mswazie, Features Reporter
GROWING up in a rugged and mountainous rural set up where he was herding cattle and attending school barefooted, John Paradza — a small boy then never thought he would one day be seated in the August House moving and debating motions that direct the course of the country’s legislative development.
At just 28 years of age the politician is by no means the youngest National Assembly member in Zimbabwe, across the political divide representing Gutu West constituency.
He is an athlete — a practising black belt karateka to be specific and has a flourishing business. He is a proud owner of a house in the posh suburb of Mt Pleasant in the capital, a feat he owes to the Almighty. Cde Paradza said the love for his family and a strong upbringing has made him what he is today and he sees a lot of opportunities lying ahead of him, given his age and political foresight that he inherited from his late father, Bravio Chasvuta, who was a war veteran.
He believes that nothing would stop him from achieving great things in life despite the challenges the country faces which were a result of the illegal sanctions imposed on the country by the West. He said he got a lot of inspiration and strength from his father’s war time experiences.
He said through the harrowing experiences that his late father would often tell him, Cde Paradza had learned to be courageous and believed that no challenge was insurmountable. As a sportsman he has fought at international level, defeating a number of karatekas believed to be invincible and said to him the sky was not even the limit in his quest for success.
Born on December 31, 1991, Cde Paradza did his primary education at Matiza Primary School before moving to Chikwerengwe Secondary where he completed his secondary education. He then enrolled for a diploma in Theology and Christian Leadership with AMFIC — a Zaoga Forward In Faith Church College but never practiced pastoral duties. He is married to Theresa Paradza (24) and the couple is blessed with one child, a boy aged three now.
“I was born in a political family where my father was a war veteran. He is my greatest inspiration into politics — the stories he used to tell us influenced our career choices where two of my brothers are police officers while another is a soldier. My late father and surviving mother Mrs Mary Chasvuta Paradza have always been my inspiration. I am into transport and mining business. I also have a fleet of kombis which ply the Gutu-Harare route,” he said.
Cde Paradza said he felt indebted to President Emerson Mnangagwa who prepared the ground for young people to sprout and participate actively in business and politics.
“I derive my pride from His Excellency with his new dispensation where young people are given a chance to realize their potential. The sky is the limit for me, politically and economically, as President Mnangagwa is supportive of young people and that is why I will not leave Zanu-PF, it is a visionary party whose defining ethos are unity, peace, development and discipline.
“I am also happy that my constituents appreciate me and I have been doing things beyond their expectation. I have donated $117 000 worth of food, cement and blankets to more than 1 000 Cyclone Idai victims whose homes were destroyed by the ravaging cyclone.
“The other thing is that I spend part of my time in the rural areas because that is where I was born and grew up. I do not want to divorce myself from my constituency or be an absentee representative. I want to make sure I fulfil all the promises I made during campaigns. That explains why I have built an equally nice house in my rural area,” he said.
He said he was taking care of his widowed mother and she was the one manning his property in the village including cattle and goats. A visit to his rural home revealed that Cde Paradza has a thriving maize field and is drilling a borehole.
“I have just introduced the same comfort that I enjoy in the capital’s Mt Pleasant house to my rural home.”
He said his experience in Parliament has been intriguing but feels MPs should be given more time with their people in the constituencies than in the August House.
“I was so much anxious to be in the August House, since it was my first time but I can safely say, I have learnt the ropes. Mingling with MPs from the opposition and finding common ground on a number of issues irrespective of political leaning was not an easy thing for me, at first. I have however, managed to fit in the groove and things appear normal than at first,” he said.
“However, I feel Parliament should have limited time as we should be given time to be with our people back in our constituencies.”
On tampers that normally flare during debates, Cde Paradza said sometimes it was a little childish although it was not quite unique and he often chose to let go most of the things, as he believed what happens in Parliament should not be taken beyond the building.
“Like any human being, I can get upset by derogatory comments from our opposition counterparts but the situation does not give room to physical confrontation. Maturity and discipline forces one to remain calm and collected in the face of verbal poking, I will not raise my hand to anyone, no matter how provocative the person is. I am a trained karateka with a black belt and I know what it means to be disciplined.”
Looking forward, Cde Paradza said he wanted to facilitate the connection of electricity to villagers’ homesteads, schools and clinics in Gutu West constituency before the end of his term. He said driven by a passion for rural development, he was looking forward to make the people in his area enjoy most of the services enjoyed by those in the urban centres.
“Naturally I am a rural boy so it is against this background that I also want people who voted me into power ahead of tried and tested party cadres, to also enjoy. They should have piped water and electricity in their homes. I am encouraging people in my constituency to come together so that I can help them to have power connected to their homes from the Rural Electrification Agency (REA).
“I have also assumed guardianship for a Grade Seven girl who has excelled in athletics by coming up tops at national level. She is due to travel to Botswana and I am sponsoring her. I have also offered to take her to a boarding school for her High School,” he said.
He said he was keen on bridging the gap between rural and urban areas in the area of ICT by bringing ICT skills and gadgets to schools.