The top leadership of Bulawayo-based secessionist party, Mthwakazi Liberation Front (MLF) on Saturday attended independence celebrations for South Sudan at the country’s embassy in Pretoria, South Africa.
The MLF delegation comprised party vice-president Edgar Gumede, secretary for legal affairs Sabelo Ngwenya, chairperson Chris Nyoni and secretary for security, Philani Ncube.
Gumede said:“What happened in South Sudan was a lesson to Africans that colonisation by fellow Africans was not sustainable. We have a similar problem in modern-day Zimbabwe where the people of Mthwakazi live under a similar form of oppression.”
Southern Sudanese in January this year voted overwhelmingly to secede from the rest of the country after decades of civil war.
Speaking at the same occasion, Ngwenya deplored President Robert Mugabe’s attendance of the main celebrations in Juba, the capital of the new nation, on Saturday.
“(President) Mugabe’s attendance at the Juba celebrations is hypocrisy of the highest kind considering that his regime is denying the people of Mthwakazi the same right to self-determination,” he said.
London-based Zimbabwean media scholar Brilliant Mhlanga also accused President Mugabe of hypocrisy for backing South Sudan’s independence while brutally arresting MLF activists in his own backyard.
“Zimbabwe is a colonial structure. What (President) Mugabe is doing is hypocritical. (President) Mugabe cannot claim to be a Pan-Africanist and yet goes on to deny and even persecute those advocating for a dismantling of colonial boundaries. There is nothing that the MLF is advocating which is un-African,” said Mhlanga.
“Matabeleland people must also be allowed a referendum to decide their future, and in this we expect (President) Mugabe’s support since it is part of the decolonisation project which he claims to champion,” he said.
Mthwakazi activists argue that Zimbabwe’s case is not very different from Sudan where the North and the South, administered as separate territories during Anglo-Egyptian rule, were forced into an uneasy union at independence in 1956.
They argue that Matabeleland and Mashonaland were separate states but were joined in 1923 by a referendum in which only white people participated.