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Paul Siwela: fearless father of Matabeleland cause, roar 'King Lion' roar!

25 Feb 2019 at 17:37hrs | Views
Hate him or love him Cde Paul Siwela is a fearless, unapologetic and very principled father of Matabeleland revolution who has been in and out of Zimbabwe prisons and courts since his teenage years.

His never die attitude towards Matabeleland restoration agenda sends cold waves down the spine of the Shona supremacist government of Zimbabwe which is very much aware that the milking cow, Matabeleland, is slowly but surely slipping out of its political grip.

His political persecution at the hands of the Zimbabwe government started in 1983 when he was arrested and thrown into Gwanda Prison. He was accused of supporting dissidents yet he never even saw one in his lifetime.

He was placed on the long list of those awaiting execution by the rogue by 5th Brigade of Zimbabwe National Army.

While in Gwanda Prison, he watched helplessly as his comrades and ordinary Matabele people were randomly picked up day and night by the 5th Brigade never to be seen again. How he survived Matabeleland genocide, was purely through God's mercy.

In 1987 when prominent and respected ZAPU cadres joined a queue to blindly submit themselves under ZANU thanks to the surrender document called Unit Accord, Paul Siwela snubbed the bandwagon and remained on the side of Matabeleland people.

The Unity Accord created a huge leadership vacuum in Matabeleland that left Matabele people politically unrepresented and vulnerable to the second phase of Matabeleland genocide which had now taken a subtle form.

Systematic tribal discrimination of Matabeles in all spheres of life and the Shonalisation of Matabeleland took place unchallenged and unresisted.

Bulawayo was losing its status as Zimbabwe's industrial hub at a  faster pace with big companies relocating to Harare.  

According to Abel Siwela the then Zanupf Bulawayo Mayor, all government departments and private sector were staffed with shona personnel making  80 to 90% in Bulawayo and Matabeleland at large. Out of 15 to 20 bank managers in Bulawayo only 2 were of Matabele origin. Only 15% of enrolment at Bulawayo's  National University of Science and Technology were locals. This was undisputable evidence that former ZAPU cadres in Zanupf were aware of Shonalisation of Matabeleland but turned a blind eye.

Without political leaders and political power Matabele nation faced  total extinction at the hands of shona supremacists.

As a first stride to a long walk to Matabeleland freedom, Cde Paul Siwela independently participated in the Zimbabwe general elections in Mpopoma constintuancey pushing for Zimbabwe to be federated into 2 states of Matabeleland and Mashonaland. Each with its elected executive governor, parliament, budget and constitution and the presidency rotating every five years between Matabeleland and Mashonaland.

Around 1997- 98 Cde Paul Siwela 's federalism ideology received a significant buy in from Matabele intellectuals and business people who also rejected the 1987 Unity Accord.

They came together and revived ZAPU. Cde Paul Siwela became its Secretary General under the leadership of Cde Agrippa Madlela. They contested the 2002 general elections with federalism as their moto. In 2002, Cde Paul Siwela became the first Matabeleland leader to contest the office of the president in Zimbabwe whose results were contested.

Later ZAPU was renamed Zapu Federal Party (ZAPU-FP) to reinforce and identify its name with the ideology of federalism. Realism that the name Zimbabwe was adding value to shonas to claim that the country belonged to them exclusively, the party was renamed Federal Democratic Union (FDU).

Federalism was by far a better and well defined ideology than devolution whose definition and implementation is left to the oppressor.

ZAPU FP took no prisoners in its campaign for federalism and as far as Matabeleland grievances were concerned.In the process, Cde Paul Siwela made enemies within newly formed MDC and Zanupf that would arrest him in December 2002 after he made several political demands that included the country being federated into 2 states, Matabeles employed in security service like the Army, Airforce, CIO, Police and Prison services to be recognised and promoted on merit to positions of 2 to 4 star generals and be allowed to lead institutions where they served.

His demands also included recognition of Matabele people in all government positions ie ministes permanent Secretaries, judges etc. He emphasised that if this was not heeded by the government of Zimbabwe, then Matabeleland had to break away and re- establish its statehood.

It was for the first time such strong demands were made by Matabeleland leadership that's attracting a charge of subversion.

Under heavy CIO infiltration FDU disintegrated and some of Siwela's comrades were lost in the Zimbabwe political wilderness while others went back to business. But Cde Paul Siwela remained resolute and committed to Matabeleland restoration cause.

The seed of breakaway was sown and would later germinate under the name of Mthwakazi Liberation Front (MLF). He became one of its founders as Secretary for Economic Affairs.

Mthwakazi Liberation Front advocated for total independence of Matabeleland from Zimbabwe.

Sooner than he knew it he had attracted the unwanted attention of the Zimbabwe government which again arrested and charged him with treason for allegently inciting the army to revolt against the government of Zimbabwe. He was kept in solitary confinement at Khami Maximum Prison. Again he was the first Matabeleland leader together with John  Gazi and Charles Thomas to be arrested for Matabeleland restoration cause.

In an unprecedented and unusual development in Zimbabwe, the Supreme Court Judge Chidyausiku demanded an affidavit from Siwela's lawyers to be signed by Paul Siwela, him (Judge) and Robert Mugabe promising that he would not overthrow the government of Zimbabwe after his release on bail.

He was finally released under stringent conditions which entailed surrendering his passport to the police, reporting at Bulawayo Central Police Station every morning, not allowed to address a rally or political gathering, banned from being in the company of three people or more and not allowed to travel more than 40km away from Bulawayo Main Post Office.

But the oppressive government of Zimbabwe soon learnt that it was not easy to silence maverick Paul Siwela.

Due to serious trajectory and policy differences, he and many others left MLF to form Matabeleland Liberation Organization (MLO).

He used the media especially social media effectively to address millions of Matabeles and Matabeleland cause gained more traction than never before.

This angered the government of Zimbabwe. And this time around they wanted to finish him off, once and for all. But Cde Paul Siwela received the assassination tip and escaped to exile.

A survivor of Matabeleland genocide, a survivor of Zimbabwe prisons that are death traps, and survivor of many assassination attempts. Cde Paul Siwela has nine lives like a cat.

Under the difficult conditions in exile he has served both the government of Zimbabwe and Britain with Notices of Demand for the Restoration of Matabeleland State and also served the new President of Zimbabwe, Emmerson Mnangagwa, with a reminder.

All what I can say for now is that Matabeles and Zimbabweans must brace for a collision course.

Lukhulu luyeza luyenyelela!

Izenzo kungemazwi!

Israel Dube
MLO Secretary for Information and Public Affairs.

Source - Israel Dube
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