Latest News Editor's Choice

Opinion / Columnist

Phutheho: The decisive Matabeleland Initiative

11 May 2021 at 21:53hrs | Views
The Phutheho Convention, a Matabeleland all-stakeholder gathering (Imbizo) which brings together the people of Matabeleland from all walks of life is arguably the best initiative Matabeleland has ever had. The convention, which has had a build-up of over fifty weeks, is in its final stages from the 9th to the 16th of May 2021 and is in virtual mode. Its outright purpose is to unite the Matabelelanders of all walks of life in order to unchain the current oppression and exploitation by outsiders. The Imbizo is a historic moment of colossal implications that is poised to be the answer to the myriad of ills that have mauled the region since the Zimbabwe annex gained independence from Britain in 1980. The popular gathering is a grassroots and effective initiative by all and sundry in the region and is being embraced by all progressive individuals and organisations. Expectedly, it will leave the enemies of the region shamelessly terrified and unnerved.

Due to the Covid-19 infectious disease pandemic, the Phutheho Convention is being held virtually in compliance to health protocols by the World Health Organisation (WHO). With discussions having gone for over fifty weeks on various media platforms in readiness for the Convention, the current meeting is just hitting of the final nail.

The need for Phutheho
The motivation for the Phutheho Convention has been indirectly induced by the problems that have been imposed on Matabeleland by the ZANU PF government since it took over from Ian Smith. Matabeleland finds itself colonised by its newest but subtle master. The people of Matabeleland and other parts of Midlands find themselves removed from the governance of Zimbabwe in all areas of existence to the point that it cannot be ignored any more. The whole affair is a form of peacetime violence on the region, and the Phutheho has decided to stand tall against the current but covert Gukurahundi. Various areas of the lives of the people of Matabeleland call for the Phutheho Convention.

The current Convention has been provoked by the destruction and contamination of education in Matabeleland. Leading the pack is the deployment of Shona-speaking teachers to teach in both primary and secondary schools in Matabeleland including Early Childhood Development (ECD) level. This has grossly affected the ability of our children to grasp concepts thereby negatively affecting the pass rate from primary through to secondary school and consequently to tertiary level. Education in Matabeleland has become as exotic as during colonialism when only those favoured by whites were privileged to be educated by the missionaries. Such a scenario cannot be acceptable in the 21st century.

This is another shocking area which invites the Convention. If you were to be blind-folded and dropped into a hospital or clinic in Matabeleland and asked to guess where you are, Mashonaland would be your pick. The staff talks to patients in the exotic Shona language. Culturally, we have our way of talking, and words for describing health conditions that other tribes do not understand. How does an employee who is a non-speaker of our local language understand diseases like isilungulela, for example? Sadly, as that happens, we have thousands of qualified nurses who remain un employed in our communities. The Phutheho has to take a stand against such.

Socioeconomic decline
The socio-economic decomposition currently experienced in Matabeleland is unprecedented. The hunger and abject poverty are the worst in the country. Children are going to school on empty stomachs and adults are spending hungry days too, leaving them prone to abuse by the ruling party in its misuse of food aid which is used as a campaign tool. The Convention needs to be alive to such ills through it technical teams that are in session.

Infrastructural development
There is currently no infrastructural development to talk about in Matabeleland. Roads are non-existent and those constructed by the Smith regime have been completely destroyed. The infamous Nkayi Road is one such example wherein the road is no longer there. The potholes on the Cape to Cairo Road between West Nicholson and Beitbridge are another shocking example. This is the microcosm of the greater situation in Matabeleland which Convention needs to pay attention to.

Environmental destruction
Another concern justifying the Phutheho Convention is the wanton destruction of the natural environment of Matabeleland by outsiders. Culturally, the people of Matabeleland have always preserved their natural environment and its resources and extracted them responsibly. Now there is a brigade that destroys the environment willy-nilly. It cuts down fruit trees to harvest fruits for sale. It axes down mopane trees to harvest amacimbi and other worms it considers delicacies. The destruction does not end there. The environmentally-unconscious brigade also annihilates our forests for timber as is the situation in Nkayi's Gwampa and Sivomo forests. Lupane District experiences the same. The same environmental degradation problems are rife in the so-called fast-track resettlement areas in Matabeleland where animals and trees are wantonly destroyed by the new settlers who are largely from outside the region and do not have respect for the environment. Unavoidably, the Phutheho needs to deal with that too.

Political exclusion
Systematically, Matabeleland has been elbowed out of all political decision-making in the country. We are more or less in the Smith era. Political party appointments in the so-called big political parties are the preserve for the people of Mashonaland. Anyone from Matabeleland who raises alarm is labelled a tribalist. The removal of former second vice president Mr Kembo Mohadi, the creation of three vice presidents and the appointment of the 2nd vice national spokesperson in the MDCA, undeniably mirror the cancer. These are deliberate ploys to weaken the region and therefore, calls for the unity of everyone in the region to stop the rot, should bellow long and wide. Partisan politics has been used to divide the people of Matabeleland. Due to the inevitable rise of the Matabeleland sentiment, ZANU PF is now misleading the people of the region by telling them that they are not Nguni. This is in stark contrast to the spirit of unity that the region experienced under ZAPU led by Joshua Nkomo which respected all ethnic groups not only in Matabeleland but in the whole country too. Fortunately, the diverse ethnic make-up of the region cannot be fooled by such lowly presentations. The Convention need be unequivocal in its declaration on the rejection of the primitive political subjugation of all ethnicities of Matabeleland.

Although levels of unemployment are extremely high in Zimbabwe, Matabeleland is hardest hit as outsiders are bused from Mashonaland to take the few available jobs. Locals have tried in vain to resist such. Examples include the Pick n Pay saga and others in Bulawayo, the deployment of Shona-speaking teachers in Matabeleland and that of government workers to crucial positions in all government ministries. The Convention cannot ignore this inhuman treatment of the peace-loving people of Matabeleland.

Land exclusion
The chaotic land redistribution programme seems to have orderly excluded the people of Matabeleland and actually removed them from their ancestral land. If you check what is happening in Umguza, Bubi, Matabeleland South and North, you will not be shocked to discover who has become the newest master there. That is by no means a coincidence. Who was parcelling out the Montgomery stands, for example? The current situation with regard to the exclusion of locals from their land is a ticking time-bomb. Naturally, the people's Convention finds itself compelled to redress that.

Cultural massacre
Further, the Convention needs to attend to the deliberate cultural massacre of Matabeleland. This is done through the primitive and undemocratic national media. The media is unashamedly propagating and entrenching Mashonaland culture at the expense of other ethnicities. The situation is sickening. In the progressive world, to which Zimbabwe is yet to belong, respect for racial and ethnic diversity is paramount. The broadcasting space is shrunk so as to destroy our various cultures. Where can we dance ingquzu, malitonta, malimbwino, isitshikitsha and izikeyi, for example? Where will our children experience the Tonga, Venda, Nambya, Kalanga, Sotho, Xhosa, Ndebele, Nyanja and Lozwi way of life, just to name a few ethnicities of Matabeleland?

Destruction of imitshova
The Convention should stand tall against the destruction of Matabeleland's life-blood in the form of imitshova and omalayitsha businesses. These are people's own initiatives for economic survival in a dead economy like that of Zimbabwe. Imitshova have always afforded the people of Matabeleland who are in the business to send their children to school and sustain livelihoods. In addition, the business has been the cornerstone of transportation after the death of the mismanaged former Rhodesia Omnibus Company (ROC) now ZUPCO. The thousands of ROC buses that were inherited by ZANU PF disappeared into the thin air after 1980. One wonders what newest management magic they have attained to want to run people's private businesses after their thudding failure which destroyed the mighty ROC! In that regard, the Phutheho will have to stand firm with the abused imitshova operators and commuters.

The omalayitsha attack
The attack on omalayitsha should not only be frowned upon but should be totally rejected because it is an insult to both business and humanity. Due to the government's destruction of the economy which it inherited from the first colonial regime, the people of Matabeleland found themselves out of employment and consequently left the country to seek greener pastures in South Africa. With rampant food shortages and a decayed economy in Zimbabwe and identifying a gap in the transportation industry, the omalayitsha concept was born. It is by the crucial role played by omalayitsha that people are still alive in Matabeleland. Why kill the business and replace it with a failed ZANU PF alternative? The people that have destroyed vibrant parastatals like the Cold Storage Commission (CSC), the National Railways of Zimbabwe (NRZ), and many others, now want to run people's private business. A mad man is roaming the streets of Matabeleland! In that regard, the Convention needs to stand with the abused omalayitsha and all segregated entrepreneurs of the region.

The Phutheho Convention is a decisive popular initiative by the united ordinary people of Matabeleland despite their myriad of affiliations. It is born out of the onslaught and threat to the existence of the region and is therefore a natural response to save lives, the culture, resources (human and natural), economic, political and social fabric of the region. It is inescapable that the Convention holds the hope for the innocent and peace-loving Mthwakazi. This leaves owl-egg on the faces of our detractors.

Those who can, let them hear!

Nhlanhla Moses writes in his personal capacity as a victim of the injustices against Matabeleland.
+27 73 386 2303

Source - Nhlanhla Moses
All articles and letters published on Bulawayo24 have been independently written by members of Bulawayo24's community. The views of users published on Bulawayo24 are therefore their own and do not necessarily represent the views of Bulawayo24. Bulawayo24 editors also reserve the right to edit or delete any and all comments received.