FORMER Bulawayo city councillors have made startling revelations that the government blocked council from erecting a statue in honour of the last recognised Ndebele King Lobengula in the mid-1990s.
The proposal was made by the council then led by current Zanu PF politburo member Joshua Malinga who was mayor.
The revelations came a week after Southern Eye revealed that President Robert Mugabe’s government blocked council from honouring global icon and the late former South African President Nelson Mandela in 1994.
Council resolved in 1994 to honour Mandela with the Freedom of the City award alongside former President Thabo Mbeki and Zulu King Goodwill Zwelithini. In 2001, acting Bulawayo mayor David Ndlovu of Zanu PF charged that a hidden political hand was behind the council’s failure to honour Mandela.
Malinga told Southern Eye that all modalities had been in place to honour King Lobengula.
“Yes, I am aware, but I don’t remember what happened. This happened together with our plans to erect a statue for Lobengula,” Malinga said.
Southern Eye was informed that council had procured material to mount the statue, but the plans were frustrated. In 2010, Prince Peter Zwide kaLanga Khumalo, a descendant of Lobengula told our sister paper NewsDay that there was need to erect the statue of the last Ndebele king in as a way of giving an identity to the city built on the ruins of Lobengula’s palace.
“One aspect is the correct statue of King Lobengula produced from extensive consultation, which should be erected in Bulawayo because this was where his palace was located and that cannot be changed,” Khumalo said.
“It is anathema that at this time, we still have no statue that marks the correct history and identity of this town.”
Former councillor Wilson Bancinyane Ndiweni said the government also blocked the original name punted for the National University of Science and Technology (Nust) with extending any explanantion.
Ndiweni said the initial name for Nust was Lookout Masuku University.
“During my time as councillor, we gave land to government to build a university in the city. We also approved (as council) and proposed a name, Lookout Masuku University,” he said.
Ndiweni said council had approached the late Vice-President Joshua Nkomo with the name proposal which he had approved of.
“To our surprise, we heard that the name Lookout Masuku University had been rejected by the government. No reasons were given and the university was then named Nust,” Ndiweni said.
Mugabe yesterday unveiled the statue of Nkomo at the centre of the intersection of Main Street and 8th Avenue, Bulawayo. He also officially opened the airport and Main Street which were both named after Nkomo.