BINGA North MP Dubeko Prince Sibanda (MDC-T) says it will be difficult for Zanu PF to penetrate Binga as the party has neglected the area since independence in 1980.
Sibanda said there was a lot of tourism potential in Binga, but what was needed was simply to spruce up the road network to make the place accessible. NewsDay Senior Parliamentary Reporter Veneranda Langa (ND) interviewed Sibanda (PS) and below are excerpts of the interview.
ND: Who is honourable Sibanda?
PS: I was born in 1972 in Binga and that is where I did my primary and secondary education. I lost my father at a young age and only managed to go up to “O” Level and thereafter, I joined the Zimbabwe Republic Police. I worked for the ZRP for 12 years and resigned after attaining the rank of Inspector. As someone who had an interest in education I furthered my education during my service as a policeman. I did “A” Level and later attained a Bachelor of Laws degree (LLB) with the University of South Africa and am currently studying economics. I run various consultancy businesses in Victoria Falls.
ND: How then did you join politics?
PS: In 2005, I became very active in labour law and participated in debate on labour laws and politics. I joined MDC-T structures in 2006 and was elected secretary for Hwange West district. In 2007, I contested the party primary elections for the post of MP, but lost to former legislator Patrick Sibanda. I went back to Victoria Falls and served as a councillor for Ward 11 (Mkhosana) for five years in 2008 to 2013. In the party structures I have served as provincial secretary for the welfare, treasury and logistics committee for Matabeleland North and I was elected legislator for Binga North constituency during the July 31 harmonised elections.
ND: How would you describe your Binga North constituency?
PS: Binga North is made up of 15 wards and it is primarily a rural constituency. The only area that appears to be urban is Binga Central. The major challenge faced by people in the constituency is food insecurity. There is need for irrigation schemes and both people and animals have insufficient water to drink, especially after the Tonga people were removed from the Zambezi River banks.
The education infrastructure is also in a bad condition with students having to walk long distances to get to schools. We do not have a single high school that offers science subjects in the whole constituency and that automatically limits Binga North students in terms of career choices.
We also have only one hospital in Binga Central and the other rural hospital has infrastructure which is sub-standard. The communication systems are also in a bad state, including the road systems whereby the road linking Binga Central to Karoi and Gokwe is a 134-kilometre stretch that is not tarred and is unusable during the rainy season.
If that road was tarred, it would reduce costs of transport from Hwange to Harare by 50% and would make it easier for tourists to visit Binga. The other challenges include the economic situation where our major activity — fishing — and tourism are affected by poor communication systems and road networks. Our fishing ponds become inaccessible.
ND: What drove you to opt to represent Binga on an MDC-T ticket?
PS: Firstly, I was born and bred in Binga and I wanted to make a difference for people by representing them in Parliament. My choice of MDC-T is like choosing one’s clothes whereby you basically look at what best suits you as an individual. I was attracted to the values of democracy in the party. Where democracy thrives, a difference can be made to the lives of people.
ND: What is it that your predecessor failed to do that you think you can do better?
PS: I never concentrated on judging the former MP Patrick Sibanda who was also MDC-T, but I was pushed by a desire to work for my people. I wanted to use my networking skills to ensure that the challenges the constituency was facing were solved.
ND: So, since you were sworn in as MP last September, what difference have you made to the constituency?
PS: I have not yet completed any major project, but some things are already in the pipeline. I have already interacted with the responsible ministry to ensure the road is serviced for the benefit of the national economy and tourism.
If the road is tarred, it can become a link for Binga, Kariba and Victoria Falls. I have also talked to well-wishers for donations of ambulances and paperwork has been completed for acquisition of three ambulances in the next two to three months. I have also interracted with telecommunications service providers and already, one constituency (Siansundu) has good cellphone network coverage. There were also challenges between National Parks and our fishing co-operatives and I had to intervene.
ND: Binga has always been considered an MDC-T stronghold. How has your party managed to maintain that position?
PS: It is important to explain that even before the MDC-T was formed, Binga had always resisted supporting Zanu PF since 1980. The reasons why people here do not like Zanu PF is because the area has been marginalised and when the party took over after independence it did not make any efforts to develop the area.
In 1957, the Rhodesian government displaced people and placed them in unsuitable land and made false promises, but even after independence, the Zanu PF government did not attempt to solve those land problems. What used to happen prior to independence is still happening after independence.
ND: Do you think that Zanu PF’s two-thirds majority in Parliament might drown MDC voices?
PS: No, our voices are very significant even if we are a minority. It is about the quality of MPs and not numbers. MDC-T MPs have contributed significantly to debate and Zanu PF might have numbers but they do not have the quality required. Even if you look at the motions introduced so far in the House, it gives an impression that the MDC-T is actually the majority.
ND: In 2018 where do you see your party MDC-T and what really went wrong in 2013 that forced you out of government?
PS: My personal opinion is that I see the MDC-T in the corridors of power come 2018. This is only a phase where Zanu PF will actually go through exposure considering their failures to manage the economy. Their ideologies are still the same since 1980 and due to that the MDC-T is going to make in-roads again. As to what we could have done in 2013 — if only we had an answer to the rigging mechanisms of Zanu PF, then we could have done something to stop it.
ND: What kind of contributions have you made so far in the National Assembly and committees?
PS: I sit in the Public Service, Labour and Social Welfare and the Local Government Rural and Urban Development Portfolio Committees where I have contributed immensely to discussions. In terms of Parliamentary debates I have already made my maiden speech, but since I am pretty new in Parliament I decided to study the procedure first and watch how experienced MPs handled debates.
I am educated now on procedural issues and am looking forward to introducing motions and taking part in debates on different motions.