Nduduzo Tshuma, Political Editor
AS the clock slowly ticks towards elections next year, the Matabeleland region needs to be wary of political clowns who sprout ahead of polls to cause commotion only to disappear after the plebiscite.
In the run up to the 2013 harmonised elections, the region saw some obscure political outfits contesting in the polls with one calling itself “Operation Khumbulekhaya.”
The people got to know of the party, which fielded candidates in some parts of Matabeleland, on the day of the nomination court, only for it to disappear and to date no one really knows what became of that confused outfit.
Similarly, the region has in the past years seen secessionist politicians whose agenda is to divide the country into two parts first started by the likes of self-exiled Paul Siwela and fragmented into a number of factions, sprouting ahead of polls.
Just recently, some self-anointed King of the Ndebele nation, Mr Raphael Tshuma, launched a flag of what he calls the Mthwakazi nation.
The flag, we are told, will be hoisted on September 12 this year and bears some symbols including the image of a white man commonly believed to be the image of Jesus.
Shockingly, the Large City Hall had a sizeable number to witness Mr Tshuma’s precarious dance with treason for the laws around the national flag are clear in black and white.
But the symbols in Mr Tshuma’s flag should be enough to tell the people of what kind of person he is and that giving him any attention is a waste of time.
In this world of complex challenges facing the region, country, continent and the world as well as the advancing technology, this is not the time to entertain imaginary Kings and their secessionist agenda.
While the region particularly Bulawayo and institutions like Stanley Square, Stanley Hall and McDonald Hall marked the nascent stage of the liberation struggle, recent developments have seen a shift from the breeding of serious movements into a spring board for political clowns.
What the region has allowed for years is a bunch of jokers who have come and used a number of strategies to whip up the people’s emotions only to disappear after getting money from their respective donors.
It is the same trend of entertaining political jokers that the region has seen messengers, shebeen queens and postmen walking into Parliament through opposition parties like the MDC-T, for example.
Within those opposition parties, there are also those who think they deserve senior positions in those institutions on the basis of regional balance and nothing else. While it is important for leadership to have a national outlook representative of the nation’s diversity, coming from certain regions alone is not enough qualification for a position of leadership, quality matters.
There are others who have, in the run up to elections, tried to ride on the “Gukurahundi” wave (a period of internal political strife that happened soon after independence), opening old wounds for their selfish narrow politics. Time has also proven that those characters are only bent on creating a constituency of the disgruntled and working against Government efforts at national healing and reconciliation.
Within the ruling party itself, there are also some senior leaders from the region who have surrendered themselves to the hands of dubious characters of criminal make up to become their chief advisors. Those criminals have used their alliance with those leaders to terrorise people and extort businesses with impunity and in the process soiling the image of those particular leaders.
In the inevitable event that the long arm of the law catches up with those criminal elements, the damage to the reputation and even the political future of those senior leaders is beyond question. How those leaders from the region have failed to realise these criminal elements boggles the mind but if they go unchecked, their activities will in the long run dent the image of the party that brought liberation to this country.
It is for the above reasons that the region, particularly Bulawayo Province, has since 2000 been an orphaned province with no serious leadership to carry their aspirations. It is only at the 2015 by elections when MDC-T leader Mr Morgan Tsvangirai fired rebel members that some constituencies in Bulawayo were won back by the ruling Zanu-PF party and the difference has been noted.
Zanu-PF Politburo member Dr Obert Mpofu is on record as bemoaning the phenomenon that Matabeleland has become a spring board for all sorts of dubious organisations whose agenda does not include serving the people. Dr Mpofu, the Zanu-PF secretary for finance, has called for servant leadership among leaders so that they win the support of the people.
It is true that Matabeleland has suffered from political orphanage since the formation of the MDC before it fragmented into many factions after the region followed them in the vain hope that they would have an impact on the domestic political theatre. Perhaps to quote Vice-President Emmerson Mnangagwa when he campaigned on behalf of Higher Education Science and Technology Development Minister Professor Jonathan Moyo in the 2015 by-election in Tsholotsho North, Zanu-PF remains the only party united towards the development of the country.
VP Mnangagwa said the country was under the leadership of Zanu-PF, uniting PF-Zapu and Zanu after the signing of the Unity Accord in December 1987.
“That one family has been ruling this country from 1980 to today, why then don’t the great children of this constituency want to be represented by a party that has been ruling since 1980?
“MDC comes and didn’t rule, even today it’s not ruling and tomorrow it won’t be ruling,” said VP Mnangagwa.
“Do you want to be with those that rule or those that don’t? Your grievances go to the rulers or the ruled? I trust that all of you want your grievances to go to those that rule because that is where decisions are made.”
As the “mad season” approaches, it is important therefore for the region to be able to identify political clowns and institutions that would carry their aspirations.
It is time to rally behind credible candidates that will effectively represent their interests and not chancers who joined politics just to make money.