MDC Alliance chairperson Ms Tabitha Khumalo’s recent utterances that the troubles faced by her party in Bulawayo are rooted in tribalism are a reckless and divisive spin that should be condemned by all patriotic Zimbabweans.
The party found itself at crossroads with the people of Bulawayo after deputy Mayor Concillor Tinashe Kambarami and Ward 4 councillor Silas Chigora violently ejected Town Clerk Mr Christopher Dube from his office after he refused to accept a letter “suspending” him from duty.
Clr Kambarami, who was the acting Mayor in the absence of Clr Solomon Mguni who was in South Africa, accompanied by Clr Chigora, recorded the proceedings as they aggressively shoved Mr Dube out of his office at the City Hall after he made it clear to them that their actions neither had substance nor legal basis.
They finally managed to chuck out Mr Dube and locked his office with a key blocker only after they got back-up in the form of councillors Tawanda Ruzive, Arnold Batirai and Felix Mhaka.
Clr Mguni reinstated Mr Dube, but his office was not immediately accessible as Clr Kambarami was still holding onto the keys, three days later.
A special full council meeting was held last Monday to ratify the reinstatement of the Town Clerk. What riled Bulawayo residents and associations some of which engaged Local Government Public Works and National Housing Minister July Moyo, was the reported agenda behind the targeting of Mr Dube which was revealed to MDC Alliance leader Mr Nelson Chamisa when he held a crisis meeting in the city on Saturday.
Some councillors are said to be targeting Mr Dube as they are reportedly not happy with the Town Clerk’s refusal to involve them in the distribution of the $5 million ward retention fund, procurement processes and the employment of community groups and control of the subcommittee on allocation of stands and premises for development.
The subcommittee on allocation of stands and premises for development is a subcommittee of the Finance and Development Committee charged with, among other things, the allocation of premises for commercial, industrial stands and lease of council properties Instead of addressing these allegations, Ms Khumalo told party supporters at the weekend that if the people of Bulawayo do not want Shona-speaking representatives to represent them, they should change the Constitution in particular the Urban Councils Act.
Ms Khumalo, having been part of the MDC for many years, exhibited the height of hypocrisy by deliberately misdiagnosing the cause of the rejection of her party in Bulawayo for political expediency. It is an undeniable fact that Bulawayo councillors, like the city they serve, have always reflected the cosmopolitan set up of the city and broadly Matabeleland as a region.
Not only has it comprised representatives from different ethnic groups but the Bulawayo councillors have also included members of the Indian and white communities to complete its rainbow status. It is against this background that Ms Khumalo’s attempts to create the false impression that the councillors voted into office last year bring new ethnicities that have not sat in council chambers before, should be exposed and condemned.
That Clr Kambarami is a son of Bulawayo is not in doubt. Many outgoing people probably know the Deputy Mayor from his other life in entertainment circles where he has a colourful footprint. Some may have spotted him either being a passenger or driving Ms Khumalo’s red truck around Bulawayo.
His identity is, was, and will never be an issue. It is the way he and his allies conducted themselves that earned them stinging criticism and rebuke from the people of Bulawayo.
Isn’t it ironic that Ms Khumalo’s duplicity is exposed by her boss Mr Chamisa who accuses Clr Kambarami and crew of acting out of order over the same matter?
“We didn’t like the way there was that exchange between the Deputy Mayor and the Town Clerk; that is totally unacceptable, it was not called for,” said Mr Chamisa commenting on the incident on Sunday.
“In any event all the things are supposed to be done by way of consultation, by caucus, it has to be informed by our broad trust in the local authorities and all those tenets were violated and this is why we need remedial action or correction to make sure that things are done according to plan.
“If there is corruption it has to be investigated, but with the full knowledge of those who are in council, the Mayor as the head. I wouldn’t want a situation where the left hand does not know what the right hand is doing.”
It is clear from Mr Chamisa’s utterances that the real issue here is not ethnicity as Ms Khumalo would want people to believe but the calibre of people that the opposition party has brought into public office over the years.
Attempts to torch tribal storms for the selfish reasons of diverting attention from the bungling Bulawayo councillors only make Ms Khumalo a perfect candidate for lunatic fringe outfits like Mthwakazi.
No self respecting person let alone a politician of sound standing should sow tribal tensions especially with many examples in Africa of countries that have been ravaged by ethnic conflicts.