KHUMBULANI Maphosa in Southern Eye of March 24 raises very important issues about empowerment of local communities which in essence starts with ensuring that they are the first to benefit from their local resources.
He losses the argument when instead of building his case in a logical and rational manner, he resorts to the usual insults and unwarranted attacks on the person of the of State for Provincial Affairs minister Eunice Sandi-Moyo in charge of Bulawayo province.
The crime she finds herself in is that in Parliament while answering to questions from the usual suspects the Bulawayo Central MP Dorcas Sibanda and MP for Matabeleland North province Ruth Labode, she indicated that in her approach to management of public affairs she will treat all the residents of Bulawayo equally and ensure that they are have equal access to all opportunities in particular in employment opportunities.
The question by the two MPs from the MDC-T were in essence simplistic and cheap shots at Moyo because they wanted to push her to a corner where she would make proclamations that opportunities in Bulawayo are reserved for the Ndebele people only and thus reduce her to a tribal leader. Fortunately the minister did not play to the gallery and made the mature statement characteristic of a seasoned politician that she is by not falling into the trap.
In any event one would have expected that if the two were serious about the issue they would have walked to her Mhlahlandlela offices and discussed it there instead of waiting for a long trip to Harare to discuss what they could have discussed in Bulawayo. Sibanda has been MP for a substantial number of years and what we read about her in papers and how she conducts her private life leaves a lot to be desired.
In fact, she should be the one who should be telling us what she and her party have been doing to ensure that the people of Bulawayo are able to get maximum benefit for all opportunities. As for Labode, she has held a number of senior positions including influential positions at Mpilo Central Hospital and Matabeleland North provincial medical department.
We are curious and would like to know whether during her tenure of office recruitment into the nursing school reflected the demography of Bulawayo as they wanted to define for Moyo.
Simply put the two MPs were just attempting a cheap shot at Moyo and she gave them the most appropriate answer. Ironically Sibanda and Labode come from a party whose majority leadership in Bulawayo are the same people they want discriminated against in job and educational opportunities.
Why is it that they find value in their votes, but would not want them recognised as full citizens of Bulawayo? It is public knowledge and well documented that the demography of Bulawayo over the years has changed a situation which is characteristic of all metropolitan provinces. But for Bulawayo the situation is even more pronounced because of its yesteryear status as the industrial hub of the country.
Because of it industrialisation during those years, the city has been able to attract people from neighbouring provinces namely the Midlands and Masvingo. This explains without doubt why the majority of the Shona speaking population have roots as Karanga because they came from the borderline provinces.
But also over years there has been dynamics which have seen increased population of people from other provinces attracted by the vast land and spaces that have been vacant in Matabeleland provinces. Remember that most of the people of this region took a lackadaisical approach to the land reform while people from other region jumped at the opportunity and took whatever came their way.
There is substantial evidence of such settlement patterns in areas like Umguza and Insiza amongst others. The net effect of this is that Bulawayo remains the nearest town by default their new home town. Sibanda and Labode should know better because the majority of these people from other provinces constitute the leadership of their party in Bulawayo.
A substantial number of them have made it into public offices on the MDC-T ticket and the two MPs have not made complaints about it. Clearly the two also benefit from the vote of this population which they suddenly want excluded from benefiting from opportunities that accrue in the city. This is hypocrisy of the highest order.
The two and their party should be made to know that if it is good to benefit from this population in the ballot box it should also be good for the population to benefit from the opportunities that accrue out of the ballot results.
But perhaps it is the pedestrian approach to the issue by Maphosa which is surprising. Maphosa suddenly comes out guns blazing and suddenly ascribing himself the role of spokesman of the people of Bulawayo.
While it is within his right to feel insulted at a personal level and maybe by extension to those around his circle it would be pushing his importance too far to think that if he feels insulted then the whole region is insulted.
What does Maphosa make of himself, is he the anointed leader of the region?
Certainly he is not the chosen one or the special one. I am sure that his thoughts of greater importance clouds his judgment and in the end sends him to present arguments that make him appear more of a caricature than a political opinion leader that he wants to project himself to be.
I will, however, not get too deep to deal with issues that he raises because his judgment got clouded at the excitement of the pen and in the process got himself entangled in his own debates to an extent that instead of becoming the mythical giant that he wanted to he made himself appear like a little caricature devoid of any meaningful ideas and thus contributed nothing of value to an otherwise important issue of national discourse.
Yet at the same time regardless of the lack of validity of his argument purely on basis of procedure and not content it is without doubt that there are certain myths that need to be exorcised and done so quickly in order to assist the region progress forward. One such myth which needs to be exorcised urgently is one which defines the people of Bulawayo as only those who speak Ndebele and have Ndebele names. That is an approach of yesteryears and does not have space in morden day Zimbabwe.
Put clearly it is an approach bent on perpetuating tribalism and I agree with minister Moyo when she say she is there to serve all Zimbabweans in Bulawayo and she would not be pushed to serve one section at the expense of the other because that will be segregatory and discriminatory and therefore tribalism.
So much has happened in population settlement defined by economic activities, marriages and general migration which has made Bulawayo different by any measure of standards.
It is time to realise that there is strength in working as a collective in the development of Bulawayo and this starts with recognising and accepting as well as celebration of our ethnic diversity.
Qhubani Moyo is an expert in public policy analysis. He is contactable at email@example.com