HomeLocal NewsChiefs take on Mnangagwa over Mat’land marginalisation

Chiefs take on Mnangagwa over Mat’land marginalisation

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THREE traditional leaders from the Matabeleland region yesterday met Vice-President Emmerson Mnangagwa (pictured) in Harare to voice their concerns over the alleged marginalisation of the region and present their request for a broadcasting licence to set up an exclusive Matabeleland television station.

VENERANDA LANGA/SHARON SIBINDI/MTHANDAZO NYONI

Vice President Emmerson Mnangagwa
Vice President Emmerson Mnangagwa

The delegation comprised of chiefs Nhlanhla Felix Ndiweni of Ntabazinduna, Richmond Gwebu of Buhera, and Mbiko Khumalo of Lupane
The meeting, facilitated by National Assembly legislator, Priscilla Misihairabwi-Mushonga (MDC proportional representation), comes at a time civil society groups in the region have expressed anger over government’s plans to close at least 40 schools in Matabeleland North and South provinces due to low enrolment figures.

Speaking to NewsDay soon after their closed-door meeting with Mnangangwa, Chief Ndiweni said their mission was to sound government officials over marginalisation of Matabeleland in various sectors of the economy.

“We said to the VP that we want Matabeleland to have a television and radio station in the Ndebele language, and if we get that licence, it must be a national radio and television station,” he said.

“In South Africa, is it already happening and they have radio stations in different languages of that country.”

Chief Ndiweni said they also requested for fair play on issues of recruitment, adding the reasons are to demystify the myths that the Ndebele people are lazy, when actually people from other regions are given preferential treatment when it comes to employment.

“We said we want the Ndebele people to have employment opportunities because we noted that people from other regions get jobs in Matabeleland when we have qualified people to occupy the positions. Our children have O and A levels and we want them to get employed in the police force, prison services, the military and other departments,” he said.

The chief said, as traditional leaders, they realised that if they remained mum on issues of marginalisation, the region will continue to be downtrodden.

“Mnangagwa listened to us wholeheartedly and promised to make sure that our grievances are taken to government and discussed. He said he takes the role of chiefs seriously,” Chief Ndiweni said.

Meanwhile, civil society groups in the region said the proposed closure of 40 schools because of low enrolment figures would further marginalise the area and infringe on children’s rights to education.

“It is frivolous and vexatious for the government to claim these schools are not viable when the government is presiding over more than 50 loss making parastatals and yet these loss-making entities are still dear to government, ” Crisis in Zimbabwe Coalition representative, Dumisani Nkomo, said.

“The move will cause children to travel longer distances, thus, increasing the already high failure rate and dropout rates. Girl children will be exposed to rape and abuse due to the long distances they have to travel to the nearest learning institution.”

Education and Unemployed Youth Forum of Zimbabwe director, Zenzo Nyoni also said the proposal was unconstitutional.

Matabeleland Institute for Human Rights (MIHR) secretary-general, Benedict Sibasa said the plans were consistent with the Gukurahundi genocide and also violated children’s rights.

“The decision is based on a flawed, outdated and ill-conceived policy of one teacher to 40 students, which is a one size fits all policy that does not consider differences in settlement patterns and population sizes of various communities of Zimbabwe and Matabeleland,” he said.

Sibasa said the decision was in direct violation of fundamental Constitutional provisions such as section 19(1) read together with section 81(2) which stipulates that: “The State must adopt policies and measures to ensure that in matters relating to children, the best interests of the children concerned are paramount”, and further stipulates that: “A child’s best interests are paramount in every matter concerning the child.”

Sibasa said since 2013, Matabeleland South schools have been producing poor results mainly because of the long distances travelled by students to schools.

“Instead of reducing the distances, the ministry chooses to abuse the children of Matabeleland South by closing their schools,” he said.

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