PAUL Siwela, the leader of the Matabeleland Liberation Organisation (MLO), stirred a hornet’s nest yesterday after he described Matabeleland politicians who are part of the inclusive government as “traitors” who misled the electorate into accepting a half-baked draft constitution at the just-ended referendum.
Report by Silas Nkala
Earlier on, Siwela had told NewsDay that about 40% of the electorate in the region had been coerced into voting for the draft constitution after being misled into believing the document was anchored on devolution of power.
“So, politicians in Matabeleland betrayed their own people,” he said.
“They will regret when the time comes for them to realise that
they are not able to exercise the power they claim is enshrined in that constitution. With that kind of devolution even if we collect tax locally, we cannot plan independently. We have to go to someone in Harare for consent. This devolution will not improve people’s lives here,” Siwela said.
However, his remarks were immediately shot down by politicians from the two MDCs who described Siwela as “a rabble-rouser and noisy gong”.
“There is no devolution in that constitution. Matabeleland wants political power than just having a Bill of Rights without power. The draft constitution, having failed to devolve power to Matabeleland, leaves us with one option — that is to revert to the pre-colonial positions where Matabeleland enjoyed full sovereignty just as Mashonaland. Anything else would be the greatest betrayal,” said the MLO leader.
But MDC-T deputy national organising secretary Abednicho Bhebhe dismissed Siwela’s sentiments as a reflection of his ignorance on constitutional matters.
“Devolution is there in the constitution and what Siwela is saying shows that he is ignorant,” Bhebhe said. “The constitution cannot include everything, but the supporting clauses will be included through an Act of Parliament. He must know that it is not only Matabeleland that wants devolution, but most provinces in the country. If he does not know what he is talking about, he must shut up.”
MDC Bulawayo spokesperson Edwin Ndlovu said Siwela was a “confused politician who has jumped from one political party to the other in search of position to no avail”.
“Siwela has done nothing for the people of Matabeleland except making noise. It’s high time he stopped talking and do something for the people. We are tired of people who complain without giving,” Ndlovu said.