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'Bulawayo needs true MPs not political party mouthpieces'

by Staff reporter
18 Jul 2023 at 21:10hrs | Views
Bulawayo needs Members of Parliament (MPs) who will truly represent residents rather than be mouthpieces for political parties or leaders headquartered outside the city, an independent candidate in the upcoming elections has said.

Dr Strike Mkandla, an independent candidate in the Mpopoma-Mzilikazi constituency, said elected officials must respect and serve the electorate, not neglect their wishes for party dictates.

"Politicians have their manifestos and intentions but they masquerade power which they haven't been given by the population and fail to represent people," he remarked during a dialogue series on the 2023 elections organised by TellZim at the Bulawayo Media Centre on Friday.

Running as an independent candidate, Dr Mkandla, said he intended to make sure that Bulawayo was adequately represented in Parliament and criticised other political parties for centralising their systems.

"Here we have MPs who follow dictates from Harare. That's why some of them didn't even get to the Nomination because they were waiting for their papers to come from somewhere else. Now those things must stop."

Dr Mkandla who was expelled from ZAPU, said that was because he refused to be dictated to.

"Imposing a leader because he is Joshua Nkomo's child nullifies the reason why we have a choice," he said, emphasising that people needed to make their choices so they could be well represented.

"We must have MPs in Bulawayo who represent Bulawayo, who are not mouthpieces for their organisations but are actually mouthpieces for Bulawayo and talk for Bulawayo in Parliament. They also must come back and report to Bulawayo, not for their voices to be filtered through some party."

The aspiring MP stated that speaking with voters in Mabuthweni he had found out what their most pressing issues were.

"They said they have one toilet for a huge number of people. Those are issues on the ground, which show Mabuthweni was designed as a single person's township, same as Iminyela. But when these townships were made into family houses, the infrastructure didn't change from single to family housing," Dr Mkandla said.

"It's congested and children are crowded. Children don't know privacy as they've never experienced it. Those are issues we should be talking about."

He also said health services and burst sewer were other pressing issues.

"Mpilo Central Hospital in Mzilikazi is in very bad shape. Bulawayo also suffers from environmental issues which are to do with management," he said.

Dr Mkandla said MP's were supposed to have oversight on government programmes so that resources meant for Bulawayo and Matabeleland are delivered.

"There is the Constituency Development Fund. Where is it going? Who's deciding its use? Those are issues that MPs should talk about and be accountable for. There are many infrastructure resources that MPs have to talk about with the relevant ministries and report accordingly to people," he said.

"The issue is not to grandstand about labels. Parties are labels at the end of the day, unless you can put substance into them to say what people actually want and is actually happening. One of the most important things is for MPs not to be ‘yes men' or ‘yes women' where they are told by someone out there what to say."

Dr Mkandla also used the example of Zanu-PF's prospective Cowdray Park MP, Professor Mthuli Ncube, to say MPs should not override the city council because they believe they have so much power.

"Parties think they have too much power, now the MP's also want too much power even in the constituency to do things and override our City Council and people," he said.

He added that politicians must learn to overcome the ‘Big Man syndrome,' which he said was now ‘unfortunately' not limited to the ruling party Zanu-PF.

"The Big Man syndrome is affecting the opposition. If we are not careful, we shall have the opposition becoming opposed to the other one, which is outgoing and then another one, and they will keep replicating their bigness as big people. So let us do away with the big man syndrome," Dr Mkandla said.

"Everybody should be accountable. There's no big man who is too big to be controlled and no big man who is too big to be attacked or at least corrected by MPs. MPs should not say, ‘I don't know what my party is doing' but report what their party is doing and agree with it. If they are independent from the party, they must say so and be independent, they can't be both."

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