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President under fire over Matabeleland

OPPOSITION parties yesterday blasted President Robert Mugabe for allegedly ignoring the underdevelopment and collapse of infrastructure in Matabeleland North region despite his wife Grace and Zanu PF youth league leader Kudzai Chipanga lamenting about the marginilisation.

By NQOBANI NDLOVU

A security aide drives away a fly as President Robert Mugabe goes through his speech in Lupane on Friday
A security aide drives away a fly as President Robert Mugabe goes through his speech in Lupane on Friday

On Friday Grace and Chipanga bemoaned the fact that Matabeleland North remained boxed out of education, economical and developmental progress enjoyed by other provinces, with the Zanu PF youth leader saying something must be done to address the issue.

Mugabe was at Somhlolo Stadium in Lupane, Matabeleland North province for a Zanu PF youth interface rally.

The stadium overlooks the Lupane State University (LSU) that remains unfinished more than 12 years after it opened its doors for the first intake.

The institution — that has been operating from its rented premises 176 km away in Bulawayo — only started relocating to the Matabeleland North capital last year.

Some government officials travel daily to Lupane from Bulawayo because of lack of accommodation facilities at the centre.

There are no tarred roads and banks, among other necessary social amenities, while several government offices operate from Mhlahlandlela government building complex in Bulawayo.

In his long-winding speech , Mugabe spoke at length on the need for Zanu PF to remain united ahead of the elections, but was oblivious of the under-development in the area, the opposition argued.

“It would be a miracle if the president knew where he was. He is out of the country so often he is virtually a tourist. That a region which boasts of coal deposits, natural wonders and other minerals is underdeveloped is an indictment to Zanu PF,” Jacob Mafume, the People’s Democratic Party spokesperson said.

MDC T spokesperson, Obert Gutu said Mugabe must have used the opportunity to apologise to villagers for the under-development in the wildlife rich province that has pushed some radical groups in the region to push for secession as an alternative to the centralised governance system.

“Mugabe lives in dreamland. Instead of apologising to the people of Matabeleland for unleashing the Gukurahundi genocide upon them and also for neglecting their socio-economic developmental needs over the decades, he was waffling about Zimbabweans in the Diaspora having to come back home. Mugabe is a specialist in failure,” he said.

According to the Catholic Commission for Peace and Justice, close to 20 000 un-armed civilians were killed during the 1980’s mass killings in Matabeleland when Mugabe sent a North Korean trained force to crack down against dissent to his rule.

The majority of the victims were opposition Zapu supporters.

Mugabe in his address urged Zimbabweans in the Diaspora to come back home, but urged locals to be wary of those that will want to come back to the country broke demanding land.

Zapu and National People’s Party spokespersons, Iphithule Maphosa and Methuseli Moyo respectively argued that expecting Mugabe to “take Grace’s and Chipanga’s advice” and develop the region was “asking for too much”.

“Expecting him to even think of development of the same people he acted against is expecting an eagle to raise broiler chicks,” Maphosa said.

“He simply does not give a hoot about Matabeleland and this is the same reason why he had to bus people to the rally from all over Zimbabwe.

“Zapu knew that he was never going to address issues of development and the well-being of the people of Lupane.”

Moyo added: “Mugabe is out of touch with reality. Besides, he is the author and perpetrator of the underdevelopment of Matabeleland. We did not expect him to say anything about it anyway. He is a serious denialist”

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