The Matabeleland region has disowned Acting President John Nkomo, accusing him of making “deplorable statements” and “singing for his supper” while trampling on their rights and ignoring problems facing people in the region.
The sentiments were part of a backlash following Nkomo’s statements during a tour of the Joshua Mqabuko Nkomo Airport on Tuesday that people in Matabeleland were lazy, but blamed it on marginalisation of the region.
He said the notion of marginalisation of Matabeleland was a fallacy and accused people of the region of being idlers lacking initiative.
Civic groups, several political parties and residents yesterday said Nkomo’s sentiments were a reflection that the politician appointed by President Robert Mugabe as a non-constituency Member of Parliament was divorced from reality.
They said Nkomo — who hails from Tsholotsho in Matabeleland North just like Bulawayo Metropolitan governor and Zanu PF deputy secretary for information Cain Mathema — was trying to please his master by ignoring the “reality on the ground”.
Nkomo is also the Zanu PF second secretary and the most senior government minister from the region.
Habakkuk Trust chief executive officer Dumisani Nkomo said it was insulting for the Vice-President to say the people of Matabeleland were lazy yet “everyone knows that the region is marginalised”.
“The statement is deplorable. Honestly how can he accuse people of being lazy when all the people always complain that they are marginalised? He and Cain Mathema and (Zanu PF national chairman) Simon Khaya Moyo have shown that they are divorced from the struggles of the people.
“Those statements are an insult and he should retract them,” said Nkomo. Mqondisi Moyo, spokesperson of Ibhetshu LikaZulu pressure group, said Nkomo, Mathema and Khaya Moyo were trying to ingratiate themselves with President Mugabe to whom they owed their government positions.
“The VP is not being consistent and we would not want to attribute this to old age. This is the very Nkomo who held a meeting with Zanu PF bigwigs from the region recently and formed a committee to look at projects that have been long lying idle.
“After the meeting, they agreed that the region was lagging behind, only for him, a few weeks later, to accuse the people of being lazy. It shows that 24 years after the Unity Accord they still do not have solutions to the Matabeleland question.”
Moyo said the failure by Nkomo and his colleagues to allow Thenjiwe Lesabe to be buried at the National Heroes’ Acre yet Edgar Tekere, accused of the same inconsistencies as Lesabe, was interred at the national shrine showed that political leaders in Zanu PF from Matabeleland had no spine.
Zapu spokesperson Methuseli Moyo said it was unfortunate that Nkomo chose to insult the people of Matabeleland instead of championing their cause.
“You do not need any research to find out that Matabeleland is marginalised.
Even in his rural province of Matabeleland North, there are no government tertiary institutions and the Lupane State University is operating from Bulawayo,” he said.
“In terms of roads, which road has been built in his rural Tsholotsho since 1980 besides the one leading to the Sipepa area? They are hiding behind a finger.
“They are not in touch with the plight of the people because they benefited from the patronage system by (President) Mugabe.”
MDC-N spokesperson Edwin Ndlovu said Nkomo’s sentiments were similar to those of Enos Nkala and (former Matabeleland South governor) Mark Dube against PF Zapu before the Unity Accord.
“It is sad that the former PF Zapu politicians, after joining hands with Zanu PF, are now joining the chorus. It is confirmation that they are singing for their supper seeing that they are in the political dustbin because they do not have the mandate of the people,” said Ndlovu.
A city businessman, France Ndlovu, said: “I am very angry and I cannot understand how Nkomo can insult the people of Matabeleland by calling them lazy when it is leaders like him who want to pretend everything is well while serving their own interests at the expense of the people of the region.”
Ndlovu said the “whole system” marginalised the Matabeleland region as outsiders were holding influential positions in government departments and even in the private sector.