MASVINGO — Martin Mureri (pictured), a human rights lawyer by profession and a member of the Citizens’ Coalition for Change who was recently elected member of Parliament for Masvingo Urban, said the desire to fight for human rights led him to politics.
The opposition party performed badly in Masvingo, winning just two out of 25 seats.
Born 48 years ago in rural Zaka’s Tongoona village under chief Bota, Mureri attended Vhudzi and Sazaume primary schools before going to Rudhanda and Mutendi high schools.
He later enrolled at the University of Zimbabwe, attaining a Bachelor of Laws (Honours) degree and a Master of Business Administration with Great Zimbabwe University.
Mureri has been a lawyer since 2010, having started with Matutu Kwirira and Associates until he became a partner in 2014.
His political career stretches back to 2005 when he was still in college. He was a member of the Zimbabwe National Students’ Union. He was a member of the MDC-T, MDC-Alliance and CCC, holding positions such as secretary for legal affairs, secretary-general district level, chairperson of the district, until he became constituency point person for the party.
“The reason that motivated me to join politics is the infringement of people’s rights. At times you could find out that a client is beaten because of his/her right, exercising their political rights and this led me to win the Human Rights Lawyer of the Year in 2014, an award I was given by the Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights.
“Apart from violation of people’s rights, I also realised that there is a need to combat corruption in the country since the perpetrators are not brought to book. The economy was not performing well, a few were benefitting whilst the majority were languishing in poverty. So I wanted to be one of the people who could bring change in our country. That is also the reason why I became part of the Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights,” said Mureri.
Recounting his experience in politics since 2005, he laments that a lot of human rights abuses were witnessed, particularly affecting opposition parties, so the terrain was not very conducive as compared to this era.
“I actually contested in 2018 in ward 8 as councillor before delimitation in Masvingo urban and I lost, but this did not deter me from contesting for a National Assembly post this year. The experience has been challenging, I do not want to lie. For council level, it’s much better because you will be concentrating on one ward as compared to member of Parliament where you have to concentrate on around seven wards.
“This year, again, the experience has been different with other political parties. There was a lot of infiltration, vote buying, intimidation and participation of Faz [Forever Associates Zimbabwe]. I can say this, because I was concentrating on more wards as compared to 2018,” he said.
However, Mureri said he did not face challengers within his party because of his years of experience in politics which provide him with wisdom on how to handle various situations.
“Yes, at times we had challenges within the party such as vote buying, but people still chose me. People knew the person they wanted,” added Mureri.
According to Mureri door-to-door campaigns and car rallies were some of the strategies they used when drumming up support from voters.
“At my party, the playing field was fair, starting with the nomination and vetting as those people who were chosen are loyal to the party. However, with other parties it was different; what we were not allowed to do, other parties were permitted to do, like having PA [public address] systems. We won without money,” he said.
He added that he contested for a bigger post this time around because people urged him to do so. All wards nominated him and during internal verification by the party he was successful.
“I also wanted the post, but I had the advantage of being backed by a lot of people,” he said.
One of the challenges Mureri said he will address is the issue of water shortages in Masvingo Urban which needs the installation of solar panels at the plant since electricity supplies are not always available.
He also wants to refurbish the Mucheke hostels.
“Another issue I suggest that needs to be reconsidered is the issue of gender equality in all fields. This does not just apply to Masvingo only but the whole country. For example, there is a need for a law that says any political party that does not consider the 50-50 gender representation should not contest.”
“There is a need to establish an office of the MP. Yes, I was selected under CCC but now I represent everyone. We need everyone to be free to come and raise their complaints and we will help each other. We also want to unite the people of Masvingo by coming up with a development committee that has representatives from every sphere such as churches, people with disabilities and others so that when we come up with Constituency Development Fund those people can help on where we can channel the money to,” he added.
Mureri also said there is a need to explore partnerships for the development of the city.
“So far, I do not have any challenges, but my fear is that people expect a lot from me,” said Mureri.