Almost everyday I read a story about the marginalisation of Matabeleland, closure of factories and all the ills that are found in Matabeleland. Everyday I see lots of tweets and Facebook comments about Matabeleland, people complaining that the City of Kings is becoming a city of beggars. Unemployment is high, almost every company is shutting down. I have not yet seen a story or tweet about what needs to be done to restore the city of kings. In this article I’m not going to mourn about companies that are closing or about marginalisation by the government. As people of Matabeleland what are we doing to save our city?
In 1980 when the ZANU PF government took over, the first thing that it did was to commit genocide. More than 20 000 Matebeleland people were killed just because there were Ndebele and they had a different political view. This tells a lot about the ZANU PF regime which is still the same government that is in power 32 years on. It tells you that this government from day one never had an interest to be in partnership with the people of Matabeleland, that is why it wanted to wipe them out.
The fact that ZANU PF failed to exterminate all the Ndebeles does not mean that it stopped trying. It just changed its strategy from a military one and used other means.
It means this government has no wish to see Bulawayo surviving and that is why it has never seriously paid attention to the issue of water in Bulawayo which was has been there since 1980.
When we talk about marginalisation, we are very correct that the government is marginalising Matebeleland in all aspects and sometimes I wonder why the people of Matebeleland have this illusion the same government that committed genocide on them, the same government that is marginalising Matebeleland will make resources available for the prosperity of Bulawayo. ZANU PF wants Bulawayo dead.
There was a lot of excitement about the Distressed Industries and Marginalised Areas Fund (DIMAF). For a moment every one thought that the government was going to avail funds to resuscitate industries in Bulawayo and some government ministers in Harare including deputy industry and commerce deputy minister Michael Bimha were saying DIMAF is for the whole country and not Bulawayo. That tells a lot about what ZANU PF feels about Bulawayo.
I had a lot of problems about the solution that was being presented to solve the problem of marginalisation in Bulawayo. The solution was not sustainable, this was a once off loan of $40 million dollars and that amount cannot solve the problems of marginalisation in Bulawayo.
- More than 87 companies that closed or relocated since 2011
- Over 100 000 people were left jobless
- Most of the big companies are operating below capacity
- Parastatals like NRZ ,CSC, ZUPCO that used to employ a lot of people were run down by the ZANU PF government.
One important question we should ask ourselves is who owns the companies in Bulawayo? How many people from Matebeleland own companies in Bulawayo? That is very important because if we know it will help us to plan ahead. It is a fact that very few of our own people own companies in Bulawayo. Most of the companies are owned by the people from Harare and they have headquarters in the capital and this is where I have a problem.
We should not rule out sabotage. Why are Chiyangwa’s companies in Bulawayo failing yet he has striving business in Harare and he is buying every piece of land he comes across? Pinnacle Holdings has a lot of construction business but ZECO failed dismally in Bulawayo. It could be their strategy to buy, destroy and close. The aim is a total take over of Bulawayo by all means. This is can be done by taking over business and destroying them.
In the last election a number of councillors from outside Matabeleland were voted to be councillors in Bulawayo and that number could increase in the next election. This means the council will be run by people from outside the region and these are the people who allocate land to business people. Our people need to realise that councillors play a very important role in controlling local resources and therefore we need to field our people in council elections.
Even our spiritual life is controlled by outsiders. There are very few churches led by Matebeleland people and churches are a very important institution in our society that we cannot ignore because they have a lot of influence.
There are a number of organisations that are calling for a separate state. I will not argue about the pros and cons of this move but my question is what purpose will it serve to have a separate state whose economy is controlled by the same people that oppress us? Yes, Matebeleland is rich with natural resources but do we own those resources.
- How many Ndebeles have shares in the Gwayi Conservancy?
- How many Ndebeles are in the catering or tourism business in Victoria Falls?
- How many Ndebeles have mine claims in and around Matabeleland?
- How many Ndebeles have clearing companies at our borders?
- How many Ndebeles own timber logging companies in Tsholotsho, Nkayi and Lupane?
- How many Ndebeles have farms in Nyamandlovu where the water aquifer is found?
I am sure the answer is obvious and it very important to seek the economic kingdom before we seek the political kingdom. A separate state will not benefit us anything if we are not in control of our resources because people from Harare will continue to yield lots the resources and underpaying our people.
We do not even own the media houses that write about our region everyday. How are we going to tell our story if we do not have our media houses?
You cannot claim freedom when you depend on others for control of your most important lifelines.
Every year there is the Zimbabwe International Trade Fair in Bulawayo and for one week Bulawayo is busy but the question is how many companies owned by our people exhibit at the trade fair and how many of our people get business from the trade fair? How many supply all the services needed by the exhibitors? How does Bulawayo benefit from this business fair?
How many people from Bulawayo own security companies and as people of the region do we support them or we go for big companies from outside Bulawayo claiming “Amankampani amaNdebele, akula lutho abalwaziyo?”
There is also this stereotype that “amaNdebele ayawomela.” We need to get rid of the stereotype because it does not take us anywhere.
As long we are not economically empowered we will always be used by either ZANU PF or MDC T promising us all sorts. The solution does not lie with the government that tried to exterminate all the Ndebeles but the Ndebeles themselves. We need to take a stand and take control of our economy.
Future generations will question our intelligence if we continue to depend on the government that wants to eliminate us. Actually, we should be boycotting businesses run by ZANU PF until they agree to talk about Gukurahundi and several other misdeeds they inflicted on us, but we are giving them more so that they are able to continue oppressing us.
Where are the intellectuals?
It is a preposterous lie that Ndebeles are not educated. That is the propaganda of the oppressor so that we always blame ourselves. The problem of the people of Bulawayo is not lack of education but we do not have access to the lines of credit. Despite all the challenges that the people of Matabeleland face they have done exceptionally well when it comes to education. The problem is those that are educated are migrated to other countries.
The grass is green somewhere but we need to invest back home. We cannot continue to enrich other countries with our knowledge. We need to find a way of ploughing our knowledge back home. All the engineers, administrators, doctors, business people need to invest their time and energy in Bulawayo so that we develop our city and take over the businesses. We need banks owned by our people to finance the development of Bulawayo.
We need the academics to produce books that will be read by our children with correct facts. We need directors, producers, financiers, and actors to produce films about our history, cartoons about Mzilikazi and Lobengula so that our children will learn. We need artists to fill our galleries with paintings of our people and we need musicians to produce music that will be consumed by our people. We need fashion designers that will design our labels, media that will write and broadcast in our languages and we need to produce our own culture. We cannot be consumers of other people’ s cultural products for ever.
Ndebeles in the diaspora should form joint ventures with those at home and establish business. It was Moses who led the people of Israel out of captivity and the people in the diaspora can provide the much needed financial backing to reopen Bulawayo companies and provide employment for our own people.