Bulawayo United Residents’ Association leader Winos Dube has defended a campaign by residents to ensure only Ndebele-speaking councillors assume the mayoral positions in the country’s second largest town.
By Brenna Matendere
Speaking at the Bulawayo press club, Dube said the campaign was far from being motivated by tribalism, but was purely in the interest of ensuring real progress and development of Bulawayo.
Last Wednesday residents thronged Bulawayo City Hall in large numbers carrying placards denouncing election of Shona-speaking councillors to positions of mayor and deputy mayor.
The placards showed that the residents preferred only Ndebele-speaking councillors to fill the posts while urging the Shona councillors to try their luck in Mashonaland.
The development was largely seen as motivated by tribalism and drew the ire of MDC leader Nelson Chamisa, who castigated the residents at a rally in Chitungwiza saying the country had moved away from the era of tribal politics.
However, Dube told journalists that the protests were not tribal and residents simply fronted a view that they thought was in the interest of propelling development in Bulawayo.
“The residents were justified to act in the manner they did. Here in Bulawayo we are predominately Ndebele- speaking and it is our view that the Ndebele tribe owns this city just like the Shona people do in Harare and parts of Mashonaland,” he said.
“So we were simply speaking and saying let our own occupy those important seats of mayor and deputy mayor because they know what we need better than councillors who are not originally from this city.”
The residents claimed some councillors were neglecting the critical affairs of Bulawayo and only staying in the city during the course of their terms and that had motivated the protests.
“We have our own culture here in Bulawayo and we feel someone who is not Ndebele may not be able to understand it if he is made to lead. This is something that is not odd,” Dube said.
“Even in a family set-up, there are things done in such ways. That is our point.”
MDC Alliance’s Solomon Mguni was eventually elected the new mayor and will be deputised by Tinashe Kambarami.