Dr Masimba Mavaza Correspondent
Corby Town Council in Britain has elected its first black mayor, and guess what?, he is Zimbabwean.
Councillor Tafadzwa Chikoto was formally given the role at a meeting at the Corby Cube, where Cllr Leanne Buckingham became the new deputy mayor.
Cllr Chikoto, known to many as Taffy, served as deputy mayor last year, becoming Corby’s first ever black deputy mayor in the process.
After being elected he said: “I feel native to Corby. Having lived here now for as long as I have, I wouldn’t trade it for anything. It’s an honour being elected mayor in a foreign land and it’s a huge honour being able to represent the community.
“It means a lot being elected as the first ever black mayor in Corby. People are moving on and times are changing, which is great. It’s exciting for the community. Everyone can feel included, this is not just for me.”
Last year, Chikoto served as a deputy mayor after taking over from Cllr Lawrence Ferguson, who was the mayor last year.
Corby deputy major Cllr Buckingham said: “It’s an amazing year for diversity. I’m also really excited for Taffy. I respect him a lot, he’s really passionate about youth and community – something we both have in common.”
Cllr Chikoto has lived in Corby for 17 years.
He has served on the town council for a year, and in that year he was elected deputy mayor.
Cllr Chikoto said he became interested in politics because he wanted to help young people.
He said he was passionate about empowering young children from underprivileged backgrounds.
“I want to give young people purpose and create opportunities for them,” said Cllr Chikoto.
His chosen charity is Lakelands Hospice, which provides palliative and end of life care, free of charge, for people in Corby and the surrounding villages.
Cllr Chikoto is passionate about helping people and he sees beyond colour.
“They do amazing work and I want to be able to do something great for them,” he said.
Commenting on the developments, one of the councillors in Corby, Cllr Mark Pengelly, said: “Corby was built on immigrants so I’m really proud to have Taffy as our new mayor. I’ve known him for a few years and I know he’ll make Corby proud.”
Cllr Chikoto, a Labour Party mayor, took his oath of office at the Cube where he pledged to pursue a youth empowerment agenda and develop the town to the best interest of the Corby citizens.
He was inaugurated at a ceremony in the Town of Corby in the Midlands, England.
With the eyes of the world on the Cube and just seven minutes after the stroke of seven in the evening, Cllr Chikoto placed his right hand on a family Bible and was officially sworn in as the new mayor of Corby.
During his campaign, he pitched himself as a “red collar mayor” who could relate to the city’s working class and work with the business sector, appealing to all in the budding town of Corby.
Cllr Chikoto begins a new year and kicks off his administration as the city opens a new page and making history in welcoming two executives who were born outside the town, as deputy mayor Cllr Buckingham was also born out of Corby.
In his maiden speech, Cllr Chikoto outlined his plan to uplift the youth and deal with the issues affecting the town.
He promised to build on what his predecessors put into place over the past years and strive to make Corby work.
“I will faithfully discharge the duties of the office of the mayor of the town of Corby according to the best of my abilities, so help me God,” Cllr Chikoto said to cheers from the crowd.
He was joined on stage by his wife, the Mayoress and his family.
Cllr Chikoto took the oath surrounded by family, friends and some of his closest advisors on stage.
He grew emotional as he hugged family and friends who came to witness the taking of oath of office.
Corby continues to open its arms to diversity.
While Cllr Chikoto promised to make Corby proud, there is no doubt that he has also made Zimbabwe proud.
The setting of Cllr Chikoto’s inauguration, even if downsized, could be seen as a signal that despite the current challenges of Covid-19, he is looking forward to keeping the city’s recovery moving forward.
“Even in the midst of Covid, in the midst of everything that Corby went through, this is a town where hope and opportunities is always ever present and we are resilient,” he said in an interview after he was sworn in.
“We showed the entire globe what we’re made of. We’re unbelievable. This is an unbelievable city. Trust me, we’re ready for a major comeback, because this is Corby.”
Still, Chikoto has a set of immediate challenges to deal with as he takes office.
Earlier this week, he outlined his plan to combat the problems faced by the youth and come up with a solid plan of engaging them.
He also announced support for charitable organisations which are helping society.
Cllr Chikoto singled out Lakeside Care Home which provides end of life care to people in Corby.
He said the city is open for business and promised to invite more investments in Corby.
Despite being foreigners, Zimbabweans have shown that nothing will can stop them from shooting to the top.