With Thembani Dube
uMthwakazi Review.com's Agenda4Action programme this week interacts with Thompson Mkhwananzi, the Chairman for the Matebeleland Liberation Organization (MLO), an emerging and vibrant organization that is agitating for the independence of Matebeleland. MLO is fast becoming a political shaker and mover in beating the political drums for Matebeleland's independence from Zimbabwe. There are increasing and growing calls for the restoration of Matebeleland as a state in the southern western parts of Zimbabwe from a number of organizations based in the Diaspora and in Zimbabwe itself. Those in the restorationist camp believe that Matebeleland is colonized by Zimbabwe and therefore she should break her colonial chains and free herself from colonialist Zimbabwe. I had the opportunity to put a number of questions to Mr Mkhwananzi regarding his organization's agitation for the independence of Matebeleland and the arguments for such a political move.
Thembani Dube: Mr Mkhwananzi would you say that Matebeleland is currently under occupation in Zimbabwe?
Thompson Mkhwananzi: Thank you for affording me the opportunity to appear on Agenda4Action on behalf of our organization, the Matebeleland Liberation Organization. Let me address your question Thembani from a historical perspective. The British occupied Matabeleland, which our founding fathers called Mthwakazi, to celebrate the diversity of its people, after imfazo yakuqala (the first Anglo-Matabele war) of 1893. Matabeleland became a captive, occupied country since then, it has not been restored to its people. In 1980, the British handed the occupation to the Zimbabwe government. The people of Matabeleland formed Matabeleland Liberation Organization to regain their independence and full sovereignty. Matabeleland here refers to Matabeleland north and south, Midlands and a part of Mashonaland west of the Kariba district.
Thembani Dube: Thank you Mkhwananzi. But what really is MLO's vision for the liberation of Matabeleland?
Thompson Mkhwananzi: MLO envisions a free, independent, separate and sovereign country, where its citizens will have equal access as individuals and as ethnic groups to opportunities privileges and rights in Matebeleland. We envision a country under an MLO government that will far exceed the expectations of its people. We envision a country where all citizens and ethnic groups will be equal, free from discrimination of any kind. We do envision a country that will enter the Global Village and play its part in developing the global village and ensuring peace and prosperity for all in the global village.
Thembani Dube: In your first article published with uMthwakazi Review.com, MLO calls upon people to join the organization for the campaign for the restoration of Matabeleland as a state. There are now many groups and parties in Matabeleland (MNP, MPC, uMhlahlo, UMRF) agitating for the restoration of Matabeleland as a state. What makes MLO's message, in your view; resonate with the people of Matebeleland regarding their liberation from Zimbabwe?
Thompson Mkhwananzi: MLO is an Organization of the people of Matabeleland for the people of Matebeleland; its leadership has extensively consulted the people, and is familiar with their aspirations, wants and fears. From that, MLO has set realistic and achievable goals and set in motion strategies that will expeditiously, deliver independence with minimum pain and suffering to the people.
Thembani Dube: Some have made accusations that those calling for the restoration of the state of Matebeleland are calling for the restoration of a tribal state. Are all races, ethnic groups and those of different religious orientation welcome to join MLO?
Thompson Mkhwananzi: In every revolution there will always be detractors Thembani. Such baseless claims are common in revolutions. MLO is a multi-ethnic and multi-racial liberation Movement, as such all are welcome to join MLO as long as they subscribe to its values of tolerance, respect, transparency, meritocracy, ubuntu and selfless service.
Thembani Dube: There seems to be a plethora of groups and movements that are emerging in Matebeleland agitating for her independence at the moment. Is MLO prepared to form an alliance with other groups championing the same cause for the independence of Matebeleland?
Thompson Mkhwananzi: MLO is prepared to work with all genuine Liberation Formations in Matabeleland. Let me at this point address the question of multiplicity of formations. Others view it as a weakness, which impedes progress, which could be true, if the formations spend time fighting each other. It is also a strength if the formations will co-operate towards the goal of achieving independence, as there are formations that are good at certain tasks. The formations would also be able to confuse, confound and frustrate the enemy, ensuring the perpetuity of the campaign for independence. A football team has many players playing at different positions; these formations are players in the liberation team. Let me further illustrate the advantages of many formations; imagine a game reserve with a single lion and one buffalo. It is certain that one day the buffalo will be the lion's meal so extinction the buffalo in that Game reserve. Now imagine there are many buffaloes and one lion, the lion may eat some but definitely, the buffaloes will survive the lion, to increase and prosper.
Thembani Dube: There are elections coming up in Zimbabwe next year. Some of the groups that are championing the cause for the independence of Matebeleland are participating in the coming Zimbabwe elections. What is MLO's position on the issue of participating in the elections in Zimbabwe?
Thompson Mkhwananzi: MLO was formed to liberate Matabeleland, not to entrench its occupation by the Zimbabwe regime. Participating in the elections legitimizes the present colonialist Zimbabwean state and consents to be governed by the resultant government. Therefore, MLO will not participate in Zimbabwe's elections. MLO will soon announce major political positions and strategies that will change the political landscape in Matabeleland forever and create conditions that will deliver independence expeditiously. These have been formed and built over the years and now are ready to be effected.
Thembani Dube: That is an interesting revelation you are making. In the interim, there are serious and immediate needs that are faced by the people of Matebeleland 32 years after the marginalization of Matebeleland in all sectors of life by the government of Robert Gabriel Mugabe and Zanu PF. There is a requirement for these to be addressed as a matter of urgency before the realization of a state of Matebeleland. How is MLO going to respond to these immediate and urgent needs of the people of Matebeleland using its political positions and strategies that you have alluded to above?
Thompson Mkhwananzi: It is true that Matabeleland and its diverse people have immediate issues, because of this foreign occupation. MLO will do all that is necessary to mitigate the situation, but will meet with very little success, as the occupiers will not allow it. Case in point is the Zambezi water project, which was an initiative of the people of Matabeleland, they collected money and other resources to build the pipeline, to pipe water to Bulawayo. The occupation regime stepped in and destroyed this initiative. This sets the priority as the independence of Matabeleland. MLO views this to be the most urgent, as its attainment will pave the way for the resolution of other issues. The priority of people in a burning house is to get out of the house and be safe, not cleaning the house or seeking comfort in a burning house. MLO is saying let us separate ourselves from Zimbabwe the source of our problems.
Thembani Dube: The MDC President, Professor Welshman Ncube has been badly treated by Mugabe and Tsvangirai in their support for Mutambara who lost the leadership of the MDC party sometime ago. They are propping him up and helping him to masquerade as a legitimate leader of MDC long after SADC have recognized Welshman as the leader of MDC and a principal of his party. What does this political saga mean to MLO in the context of the organization's liberation politics?
Thompson Mkhwananzi: Thank you for bringing up this issue Thembani. It is a very important issue and it sends a strong message to the people of Matebeleland. It is a clear case of tribal discrimination and persecution that Welshman is being subjected to. It demonstrates what a lot of peoples from Matabeleland go through under this foreign regime and occupation force, and vindicates the MLO's quest for complete independence and separation of Matebeleland from Zimbabwe so that Matabeleland and its people should not be subjected to such degrading treatment ever again. MLO calls on all people of Matabeleland in their diversity to pursue one objective that is pursuance and agitation for an INDEPENDENT, SEPARATE and SOVEREIGN state of MATABELELAND. Nothing short of the independent state of Matebeleland will improve our lot. In that regard, the revolution has long begun.
Thembani Dube: Let us come to the land issue and the land reform programme of Zimbabwe. The land reform programme has been declared a success by Zanu PF and President Robert Gabriel Mugabe. In Matebeleland, has the land reform programme been a success? Has the vast numbers of the people from Matebeleland benefited from this important resource beneath their feet?
Thompson Mkhwananzi: When the British accomplished the destruction and subjugation of Matabeleland during the colonial era, they announced the colonialist exercise "a success," our present circumstances are a result of that "success", so it is in like manner that Zimbabwe declares a "success" a program that dispossess us. The people of Matabeleland have been robbed of their land, foreigners are benefiting from Matabeleland resources and land, because over the years we have legitimized this plunder by our participation in the affairs of Zimbabwe and regarding ourselves as Zimbabweans, hence the Francis Nhemas of this world have the temerity to publicly declare and say to our people, "we will exploit your resources and if you protest we will arrest you". Francis Nhema is a colonialist functionary of Zimbabwe and what he has said is what is happening on the ground in Matebeleland. MLO will correct the situation when it attains independence.
Thembani Dube: Land is a very important resource to people. According to what you are saying there is a big problem in Matebeleland. If this is the situation on the ground and people are being dispossessed of their land in Matebeland, how is MLO hoping to address the issue of this alleged land grab?
Thompson Mkhwananzi: MLO will respect the property rights of those who owned land prior to the land grab, meaning that all those whose land was stolen from them will have their land restored to them. MLO has a land policy whose main features are:
1.) Respect for private property
2.) Compensation for what land the state has need to take at market value,
3.) One farmer one farm,
4.) A maximum size of farm in each ecological region,
5.) A high tax for land owned in excess of the maximum size and
6.) A re-organization and capitalization of the traditional lands (communal lands), so that they have more than one harvest, so increasing productivity.
Thembani Dube: The truth and Justice for Gukurahundi victims remains a big issue that is seriously causing a political logjam in the current politics of Zimbabwe. It is an issue that cuts across the divide of political and human rights groups in Matebeleland. Is MLO prepared to work with all political and human rights groups in Matebeleland on the Gukurahundi issue to seek justice for the victims of this Genocide?
Thompson Mkhwananzi: As already said MLO will co-operate with all genuine Liberation and Human rights formations in Matabeleland to seek and secure justice for the Gukurahundi victims, their offspring and the nation of Matabeleland. MLO recognizes the role played by other groups and the groups gone before it. MLO recognizes that all genuine groups have a role to play in the pursuit of justice and compensation for Matabeleland and its people, therefore we will work with these other groups.
Thembani Dube: There are others in Matebeleland who support Morgan Tsvangirai and his MDC-T party and are of the opinion that he is going to liberate Matebeleland from Zanu PF's inspired tribal hegemonist and segregationist policy against Matebeleland. Is MDC-T and its leader any different from Zanu PF and Mugabe in its treatment of Matebeleland and her issues of concern?
Thompson Mkhwananzi: Morgan Tsvangirai and his party came into being in 1999, almost 20 years after the Matabeleland problem has been inexistence and he gave as reason for his political career and his party as the white farm grab and the economic meltdown. At no time did he give the problems of Matabeleland as the reason for his party and his entering politics. He even showered Mugabe with praise for Gukurahundi and exclusionary politics, by stating that Mugabe was "a great leader from 1980-2000," a period that includes Gukurahundi, tribal discrimination and destruction of all infrastructure health, educational social and agricultural in Matabeleland, not once but twice and always because he has never repudiated it, first in 2003 and again in 2010. How much more clearly should the man be for the people of Matabeleland to avoid him like the plague?
It is sad, mischievous, and selfish that people who should know better go on preaching to the people this fallacy that Tsvangirai is the solution. How many Matabele people work in his party offices? How many does he take on foreign trips? Matabele people must know that Zanu PF is a Zezuru-Korekore party and MDC-T is a Karanga party, the people of Matabeleland have no stake in both Zanu PF and MDC-T. There is no difference between Zanu PF and MDC-T they are the flipside of the same coin. Matabeleland does not need Tsvangirai and his party, to free it from Zanu PF, but Matebeleland Liberation Organization and other genuine liberation formations in Matabeleland to free it from Zimbabwe. MLO is ready and is equal to the task of our independence; it needs our people's support to deliver freedom.
Thembani Dube: Finally, does MLO support current efforts that are being made to revive the monarch in Matebeleland?
Thompson Mkhwananzi: The monarch is an important institution of Matabeleland its revival will go a long way in helping the people of Matabeleland rediscover themselves as a nation of nations. MLO fully supports its revival. We are glad to note that a lot has gone into that, and that that there is unity of purpose among the players. All must be aware that the monarch in the modern world does not play the same role as it used to, but has important functions to preserve the culture and cohesiveness of the nations concerned.
Thembani Dube: Mkhwananzi it has been a pleasure to have you on uMthwakazi review.com's Agenda4Action programme. It has really been a fascinating interview. We hope to have you in this programme in the future. God bless!
Thompson Mkhwananzi: You are welcome Thembani. It has been a privilege to be on this programme. Our independence is coming tomorrow.
Source: uMthwakazi review.com