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Ndlovu’s mission impossible


YEARS after angering fanatical and passionate supporters of the late Vice President Joshua Nkomo, aka Father Zimbabwe for reportedly equating old Zapu to a dead donkey, Callistus Ndlovu is on a mission to redefine himself and his party Zanu PF, claiming he was quoted out of context by the media.

Report by Nduduzo Tshuma

Now Zanu PF Bulawayo chairman, Ndlovu hopes he can be the glue that can mend the fractured party, but his history precedes him and for many critics, his alleged statement was as good as treasonous and the party might have committed a fatal mistake in making him its provincial leader.

But in a wide-ranging interview with NewsDay on Monday, Ndlovu dismissed the allegations, saying his statements were misinterpreted by irresponsible journalists.
“First of all, I believe that one would expect an average person to be intelligent enough to know the difference between a metaphor and a statement of fact and if someone thinks that a metaphor is exactly the same as matter of fact, then that person lives in cuckoo land,” he said.

“For starters I never said PF Zapu was a dead donkey. The statement which I made speaking in Kalanga at a rally in Plumtree was that if anybody thought PF Zapu was going to win the election that year, that person was actually failing to see reality.
“It is a worthless effort if someone is to translate it — as some hired journalists decided to do and made an issue out of nothing.”

He said such talk was expected from politicians competing against each other.

“I served in the PF Zapu revolutionary council and saved the party from some serious problems,” the Zanu PF provincial chairman said, without elaborating.

“In any case, no committed Zanu PF member is going to be misled by this thing of diversionary childishness.”

He charged that this episode was being revived by members who were pursuing narrow interests “but they must realise that it is not going to work”.

Ndlovu allegedly gained notoriety in the 1980s after he reportedly said Zapu, the party led by the popular  Nkomo was a dead donkey — statements that continue to haunt him up to this day.

But the Zanu PF provincial chairman insists that this is all in the past and he instead was focusing on building his party towards a victory against the MDC coalitions in the next elections.

“Generally, the performance of the province in 2008 was very disappointing. I won’t deny it, but that performance should be seen against the background of the performance of the voters generally,” he said.

“I think you are aware that in 2008, Bulawayo province had 330 000 registered voters and only 95 000 voted. You can see that there were more than
200 00 people who did not vote and this shows that there was general apathy and this apathy obviously affected Zanu PF more than any other party.”

Ndlovu bizarrely claimed that the people who did not vote belonged to Zanu PF — meaning the party will sweep to victory in the next election.

“The whole approach will be to bring back to voting life not only these who did not vote, but also new voters that are being registered,” he said.

“I would not say the party is on the verge of extinction, but there has been quite a great deal of apathy which does not affect only Zanu PF in Matabeleland, but all parties.

“You can even look at the turnout for the referendum. It is across the board that apathy is there and that is why we have to reach out to the people and explain to them the importance of registering as voters and turning to vote on the day of elections.”

Ndlovu said the lifting of suspensions on members like former provincial women’s league chairperson Evah Bitu, secretary for finance Simon Khabo and Secretary for Transport and Welfare Langelihle Mathe among others, was intended to stop factionalism in the party.

“Factionalism is a function of any political activity and there is no political activity without factionalism. There is no political party which can claim not to have factionalism, but the important thing is how to manage those factions.
“I think I can tell you that these factions are being channelled along much more creative lines than has been the case before. That is why we do not want anyone left out,” the former PF Zapu stalwart continued.

Asked on Zanu PF’s poor record in Matabeleland and that the party had failed the people of the region, Ndlovu said it was interesting that the MDCs had been in government for more than five years, but did not do anything for the people of the region.

“I am not aware of any programme that has been proposed and implemented by either MDC or MDC-T.

“If they had any programmes for Matabeleland, then why have they not done it in their five years in government?” he said.

“They have been in charge of economic ministries, water, industry, finance, energy and even economic planning. What have they done using these ministries to show that they have a programme for Matabeleland?

“In fact, what they are trying to do is to turn the people of Matabeleland into political guinea pigs whose challenges must be exploited for petty political objectives. The people of Matabeleland are not fools and they know what they want and they won’t be misled into voting for what has demonstrably shown itself to be directionless.”

Ndlovu said there was need for political leaders from the region to put their heads together regardless of political affiliation to find solutions to complement government efforts to redress problems in Matabeleland.

Ndlovu, a history professor, described as tragicomic the move by MDC-T councillors to bestow Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai his deputy Thokozani Khuphe the Freedom of the City awards.

“No serious person can take this thing seriously especially when it is coming from a council that dilly dallied in granting the award to the late Vice-President John Nkomo, who fought for the liberation of this country and served as Minister of Local Government,” Ndlovu said.

“It sounds like a Rip Van Winkle tale when someone sleeps through a revolution and gets up in a dreaming mood not knowing that changes have taken place while he was asleep. Those councillors sound like people who slept through the revolution.”

Ndlovu was appointed provincial chairperson last month following the demotion of Killian Sibanda to the position of deputy following incidents of violence in the provincial structures.

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