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I'm not finished yet, says Matson Hlalo

15 May 2016 at 07:55hrs | Views
MDC-T member Mr Victor Mapungwana was sworn in as Senator for his party after the expulsion of Senator Alderman Matson Hlalo from the opposition party. The firing of Mr Hlalo from MDC-T stemmed from a legal challenge he mounted against the election of Mr Gift Banda as MDC-T Bulawayo provincial chairperson as he felt the polls were rigged and Mr Banda did not satisfy the party's constitutional requirement for having been a member of the political organisation for five years.

MDC-T vice-president Ms Thokozani Khupe was accused of trying to impose her own choice for the provincial leadership of the party on its structures. However, Senator Hlalo was expelled from the party for taking the party to court and that decision was upheld by the courts resulting in him losing his position as Senator.

Sunday News Correspondent Dumisani Sibanda (DS) interviewed Mr Hlalo (MH), who was also fired from Zanu-PF only to later join MDC after the 2000 parliamentary elections. Mr Hlalo spoke on his political future and his views on the operation of Bulawayo City Council which he once served as councillor for 14 years.

Below are the excerpts of the interview:

DS: Thank you Senator Alderman Hlalo for granting me this interview. You have been expelled from MDC-T and consequently stripped of your position as Senator. Do you think you still have any role to play in politics?

MH: Thanks, at least you realise that I do not lose the title Senator because of losing the post. But to your question, oh yes, I still have a part to play in politics. I am continuing with the struggle. I can't give up on principle. At the end of the day, I will be vindicated.

DS: What exactly was the problem in MDC-T that led to things turning out the way they did in your case?

MH: What happened is a manifestation of the corruption that is there even at the top that is why it is not surprising that some people are now being investigated and might be fired for corruption. Looking at the whole saga you can tell that some people wanted to have a grip on power so as to use it for selfish and corrupt purposes.

DS: But what do you plan politically after being expelled from MDC-T? Do you still have some political life left in you after the expulsion?

MH: Expulsions are not the end of the world. It is actually, the beginning of an era. What you have to understand is that I had a choice to make, either to be subservient to corruption or keep a post that of being Senator. For me the choice was simple.

DS: But how will you operate now that you have been sacked from MDC-T?

MH: I will leave the party when the time comes. No one can chase me from a party which I joined voluntarily. I will leave when I want to leave. I am with the people and the people must never be abandoned. Come 2018, we will come up with a big bang they must watch the space. They cannot stop me from organising the people. The irony of it is that if they want to stop me from holding meetings or meeting the people they must have to go to the courts, the same courts they fired me for taking the matter to. What you have to understand is that with me, I consult people and whatever I do it is with their mandate.

DS: So at the moment what are you doing politically?

MH: We are on the ground and interestingly there is so much enthusiasm for what I did. I am surprised by the reception I have received following the so-called expulsion. The people are saying you are a hero. How many of our politicians do you know can turn down the position of Senator than be puppies of other people? Hlalo refused to be a puppy of somebody. I will never ever be someone's puppy.

DS: But why do things end up in this way?

MH: Political leaders in general are fixated with a position. Even when they see they took a wrong position, like probably happened in my case, they remain stubborn on that position. Even if they see that their position will make them sink, they will continue even if they know they will hit a stone-wall, they don't put brakes.

DS: Given the state of things in the MDC-T do you see it wrestling power from Zanu-PF?

MH: I don't want to comment on that.

DS: In these meetings with the people as you say what has been happening?

MH: As I have said. I have been well received by the people. I have been having a report back. Telling the people that I did exactly what they told me to do not to give up on the court case and these are the results.

DS: Some have said this war was really a fight over turf between you and your old rival MDC-T vice-president Ms Thokozani Khupe. What is your comment on that observation?

MH: As far as I am concerned Khupe has no political stamina. She is just a political opportunist. I don't waste time over her.

DS: What about you? What do you stand for?

MH: All what I stand for is to do the right thing. I want the constitution of the party to be followed but some people would rather discard the constitution and surround themselves with bootlickers. I have also had the opportunity to speak to people who have been roughed up by Khupe, those who have been victims of (Ms) Khupe's machinations.

DS: There are some who say ah but Hlalo is surely just a rebel. He was fired from Zanu-PF and now MDC-T. What do you say?

MH: Well I don't mind being said to rebel against the wrong way of doing things. I don't mind being called a rebel for defending the constitution. Wanting things done in the correct way. In fact, history will repeat itself. I was expelled from Zanu-PF in 1998 but stood as an independent and won against Zanu-PF. But remember, and of course you should not be asking because you were a municipal reporter then covering the story of Matson Hlalo, Charles Mpofu, who is late and Micah Parira Mpofu, who is also late. Remember it was a case of us complaining about how Charlie had been treated in an unfair manner which was against the constitution of Zanu-PF when he wanted to stand in primary elections. Our expulsion was orchestrated by the likes of Edward Simela for insisting that things be done constitutionally. That was it. Wait for 2018. In a nutshell, I can say I have been rebelling against unconstitutional tendencies which are becoming the order of the day in our political parties in the country.

DS: What are you saying? That you are being sacrificed because of what you call your principled stand?

MH: If you are a principled person, you will find yourself in this situation when you deal with people who do not have principles. Principle is a difficult virtue. It puts you in the situation I find myself in. Some of us were going against Zanu-PF in 1998, long before MDC was formed. We showed people here in Bulawayo when we stood as independents that Zanu-PF could be beaten. In other words, MDC took the cue from us. In politics I am more senior than some of these people, the (Ms) Khupe's of this world who are fighting me in MDC-T .

DS: You are an alderman, how do you see the operations of the Bulawayo City Council, which you once served.

MH: What is important is for people not to just look at the party one represents when choosing councillors but the backgrounds of the candidates. The parties themselves have a duty to check the backgrounds of people they are fielding. I mean nowadays, you hear of a councillor who is still living at their parents' home with their parents being elected councillor. We have councillors here who do not own property. How do they talk about property when they don't have any? We have councillors who regard being councillor as a full time job, they don't have any other source of livelihood. You have a situation where a person responsible for presenting the budget of a whole city, that is a chairperson of the Finance Committee, who is a shop shelf packer.

DS: But there is a whipping system, so the councillors in an MDC-T controlled local authority can't do much, I suppose?

MH: But Dumisani, you know that I was a member of a Zanu-PF dominated council but there was robust debate in the chambers. Cry my beloved Bulawayo, you would not get all this nonsense, corruption we are witnessing. We had strong councillors, you know the line up, we had reputable administrators like Dr Mike Ndubiwa, they would not let these things pass. I have everything of mine in Bulawayo and I will fight to protect Bulawayo. Cry the beloved Bulawayo.

DS: Thank you for the interview.

Source - sundaynews
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