The Sunday Mail
It is one of the biggest parliamentary jurisdictions in the country.
Stretching from the banks of Mupfure River, around the Beatrice area, up to the peripheries of Mvuma, Chikomba West is a vast administrative jurisdiction boasting of 19 wards.
By comparison, the other two Chikomba parliamentary constituencies – East and Central – have only seven and 10 wards respectively.
So unique is the constituency that it covers two different administrative districts – Manyame and Chikomba – with 13 wards in Chikomba district while six are in Seke District.
The constituency is an assemblage of rural areas, small-scale farms, A1 and A2 resettlement areas, commercial farms and the town of Chivu, making it a distinctive constituency with diverse developmental demands from one area to the next.
Representing the area in Parliament brings with it a unique challenge that most politicians labour to handle.
With the harmonised elections due by August this year, not too many politicians will be too enamoured with taking up the challenge of representing the constituency in Parliament.
Representing Chikomba West is a taxing exertion, both physically and financially.
But incumbent Dr Mike Bimha is tenacious; he is a man of strong developmental convictions blessed with a sturdy sense of work ethic.
He is a developmental advocate who has a history fostering development in Chikomba West during his days in the private sector.
Back in the day, as a member of the Chikomba Development Association, Dr Bimha as a prominent private sector executive, led the association with distinction, pioneering various development programmes, including the construction of a specialised clinic that caters for HIV and Aids patients.
Given such a background, Dr Bimha knows his area in and out, its needs and developmental aspirations.
The Sunday Mail last week toured two wards in the vast region of Chikomba West, along with Dr Bimha.
How Dr Bimha manages to service this jurisdiction while also discharging his party, personal and Government duties is stuff of wonderment.
Aside from representing Chikomba West in Parliament, Dr Bimha is a Zanu-PF Politburo member, the Minister of Industry and Commerce, as well as a husband and father.
With the dawn of the new dispensation and President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s desire to create a lean executive, Dr Bimha does not have a deputy while at the same time several portfolios have been added to his ministry.
His ministry is now responsible for small to medium enterprises development as well as the investment promotion portfolios.
This is a task that he is determined to take head on.
“Representing my constituency becomes even more taxing when you are also a Government minister,” he says.
“I did some calculations of the number of times I travel out of the country on Government business, the times I am doing party work that has nothing to do with the constituency and I found that I am left with about 38 weekends which I can reserve for the constituency.
“I have 19 wards so I can only visit each ward twice a year.”
He added: “What makes it even worse is the fact that it’s a constituency that covers two administrative districts – 13 wards are in Chikomba district and six are in Seke district.
“This makes everything complex because you will be dealing with two local authorities – Manyame and Chikomba.
“I have to interact with chiefs from Chikomba and those from Seke.
“The constituency is also a mixed grill because you find that it is made up of rural areas, small- scale farms, A1, A2 commercial farms and the town of Chivu.
“Each segment has different needs.”
Chikomba West is largely a resettlement area and as such is in dire need of developmental assistance.
Most of the former white-owned farms had little in terms of social infrastructure when the indigenous farmers were resettled there.
There were no schools, clinics, water infrastructure and roads.
Dr Bimha has had to build from the bottom going up.
This challenge is further complicated by the inadequate support from Government.
Like all parliamentary representatives, he is titled to US$50 000 under the Constituency Development Fund.
He says the US$50 000 outlay is inadequate to cover the developmental needs of an area that is still in the embryonic stage of development.
“What they are giving out in terms of CDF, the amount is the same for all legislators,” said Dr Bimha.
“This is unfair in the sense that in other constituencies the road network is smaller, others are in areas that were developed a long time ago and they already have amenities such as schools.
“But in my case I have areas where people were recently resettled on former white-owned farms – there are no schools, no clinics, and those are the challenges we face in areas such as these.”
But Dr Bimha is an astute schemer and is not daunted by these challenges.
As a man who spent over 20 years working in the private sector, at one point rising to the presidency of the Employers’ Confederation of Zimbabwe, he has harnessed his experience and connections to engineer development in Chikomba West.
“I have worked with those in mining, insurance, food processing and agriculture processing and this has helped me very much in terms of developing the area.
“I have sustained much of the projects through well-wishers who assist us.
“What we have been focusing on in terms of progress is very varied and depends on the needs of each particular ward.
“The needs have to come for the community, we don’t force developmental projects on communities, they have to tell us what they want.
“My role as MP is then to provide those things that the communities cannot get such as cement and roofing material. We have roofed 16 schools in Chikomba and four in Seke.”
With elections around the corner, Dr Bimha was evasive when asked about his chances of retaining the seat.
“I will let people judge me on what I have done for them,” he said.