Jabulani Sibanda’s liberation war credentials, and therefore war veteran status, has remained a mystery waiting to be unravelled. No doubt it will, one day, be.
But an even bigger mystery is why Zanu PF would entrust its fractured and faction-riddled province of Masvingo to Sibanda. Besides being a stranger in that part of the country, Jabulani is hardly the character that a party desperate to salvage the massive support, lost from a culture of violence, corruption and warped policies, would send to Masvingo.
The party commissariat should know better than to assign a person of Jabulani’s disposition — a man who has an irredeemable penchant for hate speech – a task as delicate as reclaiming Masvingo.
Sibanda’s activities since his arrival in the province early in the year, have involved force-marching villagers to his meetings after threatening the local traditional leadership into driving their unwilling subjects to the rallies.
He has also reportedly demanded accommodation, food and all the luxuries available at lodges, cottages and hotels in the province where he would stay for as long as he wanted, together with the coterie of bodyguards and hangers-on he moves around with, apparently for protection from the same people his party expects him to charm back to the fold.
The vocabulary that Jabulani likes to use at his rallies when referring to political opponents — even people like Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai who enjoy overwhelming support in those areas — include words like “flies” (which he threatens to squash), or “lice” (whose time to get crushed he promises is near).
There have been reports where Sibanda has commandeered villagers, somewhere near Neshuro in the Lowveld, to his rallies, ordering them on a Sunday, to forget about church or grazing their livestock, but to instead bring their Bibles and cattle to his rallies.
During his latest stunt, when he ventured into urban Masvingo at the weekend, he openly threatened the handful of residents that failed to escape him, with death if they did not “repent” and join Zanu PF — even if the party stank to high heavens! Only about 150 people attended the rally as most reportedly managed to run away.
“Be careful,” he threatened, “time is running out, where we are going, there is fire to come. There shall come a day when you don’t have time to put on your clothes and you will mistake your pants for a skirt. Repent now and get into the ark before it is too late. Even if the ark is hot or smelly, it is worth enduring.”
He proceeded to describe Home Affairs co-minister Theresa Makone as difficult to differentiate from a man or a woman because “The problem is that most of these people in MDC-T are so ugly that it is difficult to recognise them.”
This is the kind of person that we are being made to believe Zanu PF political commissar Webster Shamu has sent to Masvingo to rekindle the fire that, once upon a time, Zanu PF was symbolic of in a province the late Eddison Zvobgo had ably persuaded into a “one- party state”.
Granted, Matabeleland, where Jabulani Sibanda comes from and where he should be expending his energies, is a lost cause to Zanu PF, but letting Jabulani loose in Masvingo is most certainly going to cost the party another province – if that has not been lost already.