Bubi senator, NGO cross swords

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BUBI senator Madeline Bhebhe has been accused of disrupting a non-governmental organisation (NGO)’s activities in the district saying it cannot operate without her authority.

BY BATANAI MUTASA
Progress Co-ordinating Trust (PCT), which implements peace building initiatives in Matabeleland North, said the Zanu PF senator had been threatening operations since last year.

PCT conducts youth capacity building initiatives, women’s skills training and drought alleviation programmes.

Abigail Mupambi, the PCT director claimed Bhebhe recently organised youths to invade their offices, a charge the senator strenuously denied yesterday.

“She declared that the youths had a mandate to do what they wanted and asked us to disengage ourselves from local people because we were foreign to this area,” Mupambi said.

Mupambi said it was not the first time that Bhebhe had attacked her organisation.

She claimed that last year the senator tried to influence women who had completed a sewing course conducted by PCT to take over the offices.

“However, since we were dealing with mature people they understood our position and did not cause much trouble,” Mupambi said.

She said their problems started when a group of youths who had completed a capacity building course started conducting private lessons at one of the PCT buildings.

“The operation was condemned by the Education ministry, which ordered us to stop the classes as they were being held on our premises,” Mupambi said.

“But when we tried to comply, Bhebhe came in and told the youths not to worry about the law as she would defend them.”

She said a report was made to the police, but no action was taken against the senator.

Mupambi accused Bhebhe of using the tribal card since most of the trust’s members are from outside Matabeleland.

“As it is, the youths are so hostile and you would not believe that we trained them and we are afraid to confront them because we are not aware of the directives they received,” she said. “Maybe our last option is to approach the courts.”

PCT chairperson Zibagwe Mnkandla confirmed the stand-off, but said Bhebhe had promised to engage them.

However, Bhebhe said she was not aware of the issue and did not even know PCT.

“At the moment I am ill and in hospital. I am very surprised people say I did all these things,” she said.

Bhebhe said she must be made aware of organisations operating in her constituency.

“I am the senator and it’s very easy to name me in any issue, but I am totally ignorant in this instance,” she added.

Bubi police referred all questions to Matabeleland North police spokesperson Siphiwe Makonese who was said to be out of the office yesterday.