MDC Senator Khumalo to fight for devolution

MDC supporters in Chikomba. (Amateur Photo)

MDC Bulawayo Senator Tholakele Khumalo, one of the four officials from the Welshman Ncube-led party to land a Parliamentary post courtesy of the newly-introduced proportional representation system, says she is on a mission to push for the implementation of devolution of power and women’s emancipation during her stint as a member of the Eighth Parliament.

In an exclusive interview with NewsDay (ND) Senior Parliamentary Reporter Veneranda Langa on Monday, Khumalo (TK) said she would also be an ambassador for all marginalised regions in the country to ensure communities benefit from their natural resources.

Below are excerpts of the interview:

ND: Who is Khumalo and may you please give a brief history of your political career?

TK: I was born 69 years ago and entered politics in the 1970s. I operated as a Zapu cadre and between 1975 and 1980 I operated from England where I contributed to the liberation of this country. My duties were to source for clothing and finances for Zipra freedom fighters who were based in Zambia.

ND: Who initiated you into politics?

TK: My uncle Masotsha Ndlovu was the one who initiated me into politics. I also got married to a very staunch Zapu activist, Jefret Khumalo. He also used to smuggle clothes for freedom fighters from Bulawayo to Zambia during the early 1970s. We were part of the liberation struggle. I came back to Zimbabwe in 1981 after Independence and then after the signing of the Unity Accord by Zapu president Joshua Nkomo in 1987 and Zanu PF leader Robert Mugabe all of us automatically became Zanu PF members.

ND: So, when did you join the MDC?

TK: While I was in Zanu PF, I started to note some inequalities in terms of developmental issues. They did not prioritise development of some regions.
That was the main reason why the MDC was formed. When the MDC split, I decided to support the Ncube faction because they were committed to fighting the inequalities and were very vocal about issues of devolution of power.

ND: What is it about devolution of power that you were very passionate about?

TK: I feel each region should benefit from its own resources. Whatever natural resources are within a region, they should first develop that region and then the excess should go to other needy regions.

For instance, Matabeleland North has a lot of gold and proceeds from that natural resource should go towards the building of universities and other infrastructure in that region. There is also timber in Lupane and what we want to see is development of the timber industry in Lupane. People in Shurugwi should benefit from their gold and companies that are extracting natural resources should plough back into the community instead of degrading the environment and taking the resources away. Devolution of power is not a Matabeleland issue, but a national issue.

ND: Apart from politics, what other things do you do?

TK: I am a holder of a Bachelor of Education degree in Home Economics with emphasis on nutrition. That kind of training prepared me to be quite vocal on gender issues as the focus was on breastfeeding. I became very gender-conscious as a nutritionist. I was also lucky to be in England when the Convention on the Elimination of Gender Discrimination was formulated in 1979 and that increased my consciousness.

Since then, I have been involved in grooming girl children and detainees at Hlekweni Training Centre in Bulawayo. I am interested in economic issues, especially property ownership for women.

ND: Now that you have been elected senator, what issues are you going to raise during debate in Senate?

TK: I am going to be outspoken on issues of devolution of power. We want regions to be able to plan for their own development and prioritise issues like access to water, education, infrastructural development and others things.

That is the main reason that has caused cities like Bulawayo to be dilapidated. If decisions were being made in Bulawayo for Matabeleland, there would be a lot of development now.

For example, during the (Ian) Smith regime, companies like Ingwebu developed schools and fed schoolchildren with milk and bread everyday out of their profits.

Now, all profits made by companies are taken to Harare and it is Harare which then decides how they should be distributed. That is why areas like Bulawayo are dead.

I will speak on devolution of power, not only for Bulawayo, but also for the people in Marange (Manicaland province).

ND: And, on issues to do with women — what’s your message?

TK: Women should have access to education and no girl should walk long distances to school. Girls in Binga and Matabeleland North are walking as far as 10 kilometres to school and this exposes them to a lot of dangers.

We also need women to own assets which they can use as collateral so that they can access loans from banks to start businesses. Women are disadvantaged in that even within a marriage, all property is in the name of the husband.

The government must ensure every house, piece of land or property acquired by married couples is owned by both of them and not only by the husband. The wife’s name should also appear on the title deeds. In short, I will fight for the emancipation
of women.

ND: Since there are only four of you who managed to get into Parliament from your party MDC, do you think your voices will be heard?
TK: If we get enough media coverage, our voices will be heard. As long as we speak on issues that are developmental there is no reason why even Zanu PF legislators should not support our views.

We will be a mouthpiece of the people and not the political party. It is high time we have political togetherness and real MPs will stand for the truth and not the party.


  1. Well done Mntungwa, siyakweseka – ungaJiki!!!

    MDC green machine will grow in time, thats politics. It takes years to develop political gravitas especially in a highly racially, tribally and regionally polarised political environment like Zimbabwe.


  2. This woman says, “I operated as a Zapu cadre and between 1975 and 1980 I operated from England where I contributed to the liberation of this country”. Zapu did not “liberate” this country at all. Zapu and Zanu contributed nothing. I defy anyone to tell us how Zanu or Zapu contibuted to the “liberation”. The phrase “contributed to the liberation” is meaningless because all those who voted, first in 1979, and the second in 1980 also contributed. If she had not said anything about “contributing to the liberation” that would not have made her a lesser person or politician.
    As for fighting for “devolution” – that is a lost cause. A waste of time.

    • @Musona
      Yours is a fruitless struggle against the history of ZAPU and ZANU.

      Please give it up,you are wasting your time!!

      • @Gukurahundi – It might be “fruitless” to you but not to everyone else. Speak for yourself only.
        There’s absolutely nothing that Zanu or Zapu contributed to what they call “liberation” – if there is then let us know what it is that they did because black rule was negotiated in 1979 before both came from Mozambique and Zambia. That is to say, Blacks were already voting before the Lancaster House Conference.
        You are trying to stifle debate.

        • @ Musona
          Yes indeed, I am speaking for myself, not on behalf of anybody. I never mentioned anyone else.

          I just think you are wasting your time as the debate you are starting will get you nowhere and achieve absolutely zilch. I am not stifling debate, I only stating facts.

          Again I don’t understand what the 1979 Lancaster House Conference was for, if genuine black rule had already been achieved through the Muzorewa, Sithole, Smith, Chirau, Ndiweni internal settlement, if ZAPU and ZANU were not effective?

          Surely these two should have been ignored by Prime Minister Muzorewa. They should have carried on as if they did not exist.

          Clearly the military pressure the continued to exert achieved the Lancaster House conference and its outcomes, dont you agree?

          Had you said, ZAPU and ZANU did not win the war over Ian Smith, I would have agreed with you. Gukurahundi ZANU PF especially, should stop lying to the people about the war – they never won it.

          No military victor in any situation settles for a constitution that retains and guarantees 10 parliamentary seats to his opponents for ten years, despite their numbers in the population of the country!!

          • @Gukurahundi – When Muzorewa was voted into power in 1979 he sought to have trade sanctions removed and, of course, international recognition. He approached the British government who in turn took the case to the UN but the African countries would not accept international recognition without the other external parties being involved. The British government then proposed this to Muzorewa who himself was over confident he was going to win the election. The British government then proposed an all-party Lancaster House Conference.
            Muzorewa could have refused and carried on but he was confident he would win an election. Zapu and Zanu had for years been involved in hit-and-run incursions into the country for years when the country was under Smith and this situation under Muzorewa never changed. Any person belonging to Zanu or Zapu will tell you the Lancaster House Conference was brought about by their efforts – they would say that wouldn’t they? But then a black person was in charge at the time who had been voted into power by more people in 1979 than those who voted Zanu into power in 1980. I don’t think you will meet anyone in Zanu or Zapu who will admit that although they fought they were not getting anywhere. We were inside so we knew what was going on rather than those outside who had no good means of communication to know what was going on.

        • Hesi Musona ,murume une chipo chekureva nhema or you are just plain stupid,why did smith kill the refuges in chimoio,why were liberation icons imprisoned,BECAUSE THEY WERE FIGHTING FOR INDEPENDENCE

    • Uyahumana wena, people are free to fight for what they believe for, so do not pre-empt anything in your guise to sound all logical. Wait and see then comment.

  3. @Musona
    Please give us a break, if the war effort wasn’t effective what were all those peace talks for, with Joshua Nkomo in the train at the falls? In Geneva etc? How can you waste time in meetings with people of no consequence?

    What about the KEEPS – why were villagers being kept in these places instead of letting them go about their daily lives normaly? What were all the road blocks for? Why were Smith’s soldiers disturbing us at school? I was at Matopo and we were forced to meetings in the School Halls with Peter Walls’s men, what for?

    Over and above this Muzorewa was never gonna succeed without African support given the fact that Rhodesia is a landlocked country. Relying on South African Boers support would not cut it because the ANC and the PAC were breathing heavily on the apartheid system.

    In short the war and international support, forced the Lancaster House talks on the internal settlement fools. They could have never survived without it!!

  4. There were never ever any peace talks held in or out of Zimbabwe. From the late 1950s the Britsh government held talks about handing over power to the black majority. At no point were any peace talks held as far as I know. All the talks held about Zimbabwe were to try and work out how best power was transferred to blacks. Talks held at the Vic Falls were also about trying to work out how best to hand over power to blacks in the face of white fears and resistance. Numerous talks took place over the years in various locations but NONE of them were peace talks. We have countless road blocks in Zimbabwe right now and there is no war. A roadblock is not a sign of war.
    I have been very clear in my comments that Zanu and Zapu were engaged in hit-and-run incursions since 1966 right up to 1979. At no point did I say it was very peaceful.
    And I never said Muzorewa was successful or was going to succeed. I have clealry stated that when Muzorewa was voted into power he immediately sought to have trade sanctions lifted by consulting Britain who in turn proposed an all-party Conference. Now you twist the argument to say it was the war. Muzorewa never went to the British to surrender on behalf of Smith who had already left officce by then. Muzorewa did not seek to be elected just to surrender on behalf of Smith. You are trying to “fit” your favourite party Zapu into relevance. Whoever told you that peace talks were held on several occasions was lying to you. Joshua Nkomo held talks with Ian Smith on various occasions as well. Mugabe used to hold weekly meetings with Ian Smith until 1987. Mugabe’s first cabinet had Rhodesian Front cabinet ministers for your own inforamtion like David Smith, Chris Anderson et al. Is this what you read or what you experienced first hand?

    • @Musona

      Mfowethu, you are talking to somebody who also went through the experiences of the war period. Why were we being searched for weapons at roadblocks if the war was of no consequence in Rhiodesia?

      When I finished my High School, in 1978 I had been listed for forced conscription and this is one reason I skipped the country to Botswana for further studies abroad. Why was there conscription if the war was not effective?

      As we crossed Ramakgwebana into Botswana by train, we were ambushed, bullets flying through the train from one end to the other and we were told to lie down – was that not war?

      As I initially said, you are time wasting – its not worth debating with someone who is already as fixated as you are. You are entitled to your views, and I am entitled to mine – lets agree to differ!

    • @Musona

      You can’t talk of Abel Muzorewa, as if he was an indepentent and mutually exclusive entity to the Liberation War machinery comprising ZANu and ZAPU. Abel Mzo and Canaan Banana were requested by both Zapu and Zanu in 1974 to organise the black people against the Pierce Commission. It was felt that both , as men of the cloth, were nutral and could be understood better by the British colonial hithens. Mzo was acting under strict instructions from these two parties which had merged into one common front ANC since both Zapu and Zanu were banned and had no locus standi in judiciao to negotiate with the RF. Mzo’ job was supposed to end with the rejection of the Pierce Commission. But, no, Mzo himself tested the sweetness of power and influence and went against his principals ZANU and Zapu. He was given little featherbeddings by Ian Smith and he forgot and sold out the revolution. Mzo aiwe mutengesi VaMusona. Flashback, around 1974, Nkomo, through fronting JZ Moyo tried to wrestle away ANC from Mzo,claiming he was the legitimate leader as was before NDP of 1959. Fierce street battles were faught between ANC Mzo, Zapu, Zanu, RF. Mzo even had the auxillary militia wing to prop himself, people he had been lent by Zanu and Zapu. By 1975-Zanu would recruit by fooling Mzo’s followers they were training as ANC, but once you crossed into Mozambique you were told Mzo is a traitor. And sure he was becoz he was leaaning towards Ian Smith. The fact that in 1979 Mzo became Prime Minister is neither here nor there for true liberation. He was just a black man in a white man’s chair. Ko yaigozonzi Zimbabwe -Rhodesia ndochii ichocho? Ndorusununguko rwacho here?

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