Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) Vice President, Professor Welshman Ncube has condemned Bulawayo councillors for their recklessness but was quick to say the city council should not be dismissed instead must be given a chance to fix its problems.
Bulawayo councillors came under fire a fortnight ago after a faction of councillors fronted by Deputy Mayor, Tinashe Kambarami sought to suspend town clerk, Christopher Dube over allegations of abuse.
This did not go well with residents, who viewed the suspension attempt as a tribally motivated move.
Posting in his twitter platform, Prof Ncube denigrated the actions of the councillors and said their actions could break the trust entrusted in the opposition MDC by the electorate in Bulawayo, which stands as an oppositional stronghold.
Prof Ncube’s tweet read: “Spent a refreshing day today in Lupane East with MDC exciting campaign, selfless, united and hardworking teams doing ward rallies in all 14 wards, away from the reckless brand of politics of Bulawayo which has put in jeopardy the trust reposed in the MDC by the long suffering Byo voters.”
However when reached for comment, Prof Ncube declined to comment further.
Observers noted that since Prof Ncube is part of the MDC hierarchy, he through his ‘carefully crafted’ tweet was disappointed by the councillors, as their actions could invite the possibility of Zanu PF coming into Bulawayo.
This possibility has emanated from residents meetings, where people have expressed their displeasure over the current crop of city councillors who they accuse of destroying Bulawayo’s brand.
Some residents even called for the government to set up a commission to run Bulawayo City Council.
But in a series of follow up tweets, Prof Ncube posted that no matter the wrong doing of the councillors, they were capable of correction.
He argued bringing in a commission to remove an elected council was akin to supporting the 2017 coup d’état that took over power unconstitutionally and worsened the socio-economic situation in Zimbabwe.
“Whatever the mistakes we have made as MDC or as councillors, they are all capable of correction and rectification by us within the democratic ethos without inviting a coup government to do a coup against an elected council. How I wish we could learn the lessons of history.
“Today (Monday afternoon) a strange coalition of seemingly well-meaning residents and organisations are once again cheering and urging (Minister of Local Government) July Moyo to do a coup against an elected Council and install an unelected Commission just because we have been offended by the actions of a tiny minority of the Councillors,” Prof Ncube posted.
The MDC VP said history was the best teacher and warned that once power to run Bulawayo council was handed over to the ruling party, it would not cede control.
“One is easily reminded of the old adage of a drowning man clinging to a serpent. Those who are busy hallucinating that Zanu PF will appoint a professional Commission for Bulawayo will be rudely awakened when they learn that Zanu PF never hands over any power except to its incompetent self.
“After all, the Mayor his Worship Solomon Mguni had already started the corrective process both on procedural and substantive issues. In the circumstances, it is a grave mistake to clamour for a negation of the democratic will of the people of Bulawayo as expressed by them only a year ago,” Prof Ncube said.
Meanwhile, analysts noted the anger residents displayed against Kambarami rather than the town clerk alleged of mismanaging council funds showed that issues of tribe and tribalism have always been a hot potato in Matabeleland.
Political analyst, Methuseli Moyo said such rhetoric showed that tribalism is real in Zimbabwe, deep-rooted and practised openly – both by individuals and institutions.
He noted it was not strategic for the exclusively “Shona origin” councillors to embark on a process to eject the Town Clerk.
“Their action was bound to be viewed as tribally motivated. The chaps clearly lacked tact in that instance. As for the use of vulgar words by the town clerk, it was unfortunate but some people felt the insults were deserved,” he said.
Moyo highlighted that tribalism had become a real issue in politics, and a strategy, which was actually virtually used by all the major parties.
“If the people or persons raising allegations are of a certain tribe, against a person or persons of the other tribe, automatically it becomes a tribal issue. I am sure you have the choreographed hierarchy in most parties where always the leader is this tribe, and the deputy that tribe, across the board. That has made tribalism institutionalised in politics. That is how our society is,” he said.
The city council debacle also brought to the fore the issue of imposing candidates by MDC.
Moyo claimed the MDC has been very clumsy in their political operations in Matabeleland, on the tribe issue and could soon be dealing with massive resistance in the region.
“Zanu PF seems to understand that each region is for people from that region in terms of political representation. However, there are issues with staffing in the civil service. However, president Mnangagwa seems to be receptive to the complaints. In that view, MDC may find its self being relegated in Matabeleland,” he said.