Mthwakazi Liberation Front (MLF) leader Paul Siwela, who has just been released from remand prison after spending 90 days in custody on treason charges, has dismissed as “nonsensical” claims that his organisation was tribalistic and violent.
Siwela told NewsDay on Wednesday his party respected the country’s ethnic diversity.
“The position is that when Mthwakazi gets her independence and sovereignty, everyone including me, will have to take a new passport bearing Mthwakazi identity,” he said.
“No one is going to be coerced to leave Mthwakazi as long as they are loyal to the constitution of Mthwakazi. We are not going to coerce Ndebele-speaking people who want to remain in Zimbabwe.
If they are happy there then let them stay there, just like we have Ndebele-speaking people in Botswana and South Africa who have settled there.
There are some Ndebele-speaking people who remained in Zambia after independence when (the late Vice-President) Joshua Nkomo failed to become president of the country.
No one is going to be thrown away. It is the tribalists who are propagating that theory, why would anyone be thrown away?”
Siwela said if the country was finally separated, they would encourage anyone willing to help in the development of Mthwakazi regardless of race or ethnic background.
“We recognise 15 ethnic groups in the country and our flag bears 15 stars in representation of those ethnic groups. All the languages we have will be accorded equal status in our constitution,” said Siwela.
He said violence was not within the MLF agenda but, “to engage President Robert Mugabe in a civil manner because there are issues to do with liabilities to be shared between the two republics”.
Siwela said it was wrong to label MLF secessionist.
“Matabeleland and Mashonaland were joined by a referendum in 1923 and it is the white people who participated in that referendum. This means we are still bound by a colonial legacy of 1923.”
He said the border between the two regions was still there, “at the Battlefield’s Police Station between Kwekwe and Kadoma.