Parties court Matabeleland region with 'manna'

By Farai Sibanda Bulawayo July 24 2013. As the country goes for elections next Wednesday contesting political parties are promising  “manna from heaven” to the  disgruntled electorate during their campaigns in the largely neglected southern part of the country.In Matabeleland provinces people are being promised compensation for Gukurahundi victims, implementation of devolution of power, revival of companies that shutdown and preservation of late Vice President Joshua Nkomo’s legacy.  However, observers say this can only be done if President Robert Mugabe loses power. Speaking to Radio VOP MDC –T Bulawayo provincial spokesperson Mandla Sibanda blamed Zanu PF on the underdevelopment of Matabeleland region saying the party looted resources in the region for 33 years and dismally failed to develop the area. “When we get into power in a few days time we are going to deal with the Matabeleland issue immediately since the area had been neglected by Zanu PF for many years. The revolutionary party has been looting resources such as gold, coal and other minerals without  giving back to the communities .We also  want to implement devolution of power and compensate victims  of Gukurahundi so that the country can heal and move forward,”said Sibanda.More  than 20 000  people were killed  during the Gukurahundi massacres in the 1980s which were perpetrated by Mugabe regime accusing the opposition Zapu, then led by Nkomo for supporting dissidents. Edwin Ndlovu, spokesperson of  smaller MDC led by Welshman Ncube proferred: “We promise full devolution of power whereby provinces control their own resources and also have a fair share of the budget allocation to the provinces resulting in employment creation. We shall also address water issuesthrough the rehabilitation of the Nyamandlovu  acquifer and the long overdue connection of the Matabeleland Zambezi Water Pipeline.Human rights activist Mbuso  Fuzwayo who is the coordinator of a pressure group, Ibhetshu LikaZulu said: “The two MDC formations should make sure they fulfill these promises  to people of Matabeleland if they get into power otherwise if they fail  it will be their end as Matabeleland will dump them for good as they did to the former ruling party”. Zanu PF Bulawayo provincial chairman Killian Sibanda blasted the MDC formations saying that there are lying to the electorate as they failed to develop Matabeleland in the four years they have been in government. Sibanda said Zanu PF is  going  to empower  people of Matabeleland if it wins the next elections and will do away with devolution which he said will divide people along tribal and regional lines.“Our focus is on empowering people and the MDC is just lying to people in Matabeleland. Why did they fail to develop the area in the four years there were in government,” said Sibanda.Added Sibanda: “These Johnny come late Western sponsored parties also want to divide people using Gukurahundi; Yes it is unfortunate that people were killed but wecan’t have  some people trying to gain political mileage through the unfortunate Gukurahundi.“As long as Mugabe is  in power” observed political analyst Mmeli Dube of Bulawayo Agenda  ” it will remain a pipe dream to develop Matabeleland because  he doesn’t  really care about the region.