Parliamentarian and former deputy minister of Justice, Fortune Chasi (Mazowe South MP Zanu PF) has ventured into the world of music, singing against political violence, highlighting the plight of war veterans, child abuse and violence on people living with albinism.
BY VENERANDA LANGA
Chasi, who also uses music to teach Zimbabweans about legal rights, becomes the second MP to venture into music after Matabeleland South senator Sithembile Mlotshwa also launched her music career last year.
“I am someone who does not see status as a barrier to anything as I am able to mix and network effectively with people of different levels, age, professional, racial or other considerations,” Chasi said.
“I believe that if you cast away these criteria, you become more effective as you are able to relate directly to those whose lives you impact as a leader.”
The MP surprised all and sundry when he produced Zimdancehall songs — usually associated with young people — but he claims it is humility and the ability to associate with different levels of people that makes one appeal to society.
“One of the biggest causes of leadership failure is what others call ‘feelings of superiority’ where someone feels they are above people they represent in Parliament. I do not accept that I am a shefu [boss] to the people who elected me and I believe in what has been termed as ‘servant leadership’.”
To Chasi, music is a communication platform on various issues affecting society that are beyond entertainment.
“Music praises, cautions and entertains, but most of the time people sing and dance along to music regardless of the genre. As a socially-conscious individual, I feel that music can provide a channel for transmitting messages about law. That is why, for example, I did songs on child marriages where I basically sang about the Constitutional Court judgement in which it was ruled child marriages went against the Constitution,” he said.
“I also have songs on domestic violence and they have been extremely well-received in the ghetto where young children now understand these evils.”
With feuding currently taking place in the war veteran’s camp, Chasi did a song with dancehall artist Killer T titled Zimbabwe Ino, in which he venerated war veterans, asking Zimbabweans not to despise them as they fought and sacrificed for independence.
“I grew up in the rural areas and the ghetto, and that is where my sympathies lie. I saw the brutalities of the war in the rural areas and understand issues of the liberation struggle. That is why war veterans have a special place in my heart. It is now my turn to work for Zimbabwe in any capacity in which my skills and training can be useful. It is a duty and it does not have to be ministerial. It can be anything,” he said.
“I am also currently working with the Association of People Living with Albinism in a project to stop the killing of albinos in Malawi, Tanzania and South Africa. Although albinos largely do not face discrimination in Zimbabwe, in other countries they are killed for their bones as it is believed they enhance luck. There is need for information dissemination because if our albinos go to these countries, for example, to collect a motor vehicle, they risk being killed.”
He said music can be a transmitter of different messages, including political messages, but care should be taken that the correct messages are sent.
“What is important is to ensure that the correct messages are sent such as no to drugs, political violence and dissemination of information such as voter registration. If one chooses the correct genre, one can target the correct audience through music. I am not a great talker at meetings and so music does it for me,” he said.
“Apart from that, our people love music and will easily congregate to listen. In 2013, I moved around the constituency campaigning with a PA system and it was well-received.”
Other legislators in Parliament are said to be supportive of Chasi’s musical efforts.
“They love the fact that I sing, and one MP bought 800 copies of my CD for distribution at their own constituency. They love the messages in the songs and some are even asking me to compose tailor-made songs dealing with issues affecting their constituencies,” he said.
The MP said his songs were political in the sense that they talked about governance issues and things affecting the general populace.
“We need to sing against violence — political or domestic — and even sing about violence by the police. Songs can be used to preach about the Zimbabwe we want. We should teach tolerance of other people through music, and our musicians have a better platform to do this.”
A lawyer by qualification, Chasi worked as a prosecutor and practised law at different law firms. He also worked at the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe for several years as a legal counsel before joining politics where he won the Mazowe South seat through a Zanu PF ticket. He became an MP in the National Assembly in 2013 and was appointed the deputy Justice minister the same year.
“When I left government in 2014, I discovered that I could sing and also enrolled for a Master’s of Laws in International Business, which I have just completed. So, apart from a BL and LLB and MSc in International Relations from the University of Zimbabwe, and LLM in International Law from Essex, I have added this Master’s degree,” he said.
“Being a lawyer or MP does not stop me from doing music as I am making people conscious of societal issues.”
On family matters, Chasi said they were all very supportive of his musical career and even feature on some of his songs, except for one of his sons Tapiwa who is in the Diaspora.
The two albums he has so far released in collaboration with different artists are titled Life Is a Collaboration and Salvation Army, where he collaborated with Doctor Tawanda. He is affectionately known as Mudhara Chasi in musical circles.