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From SW Radio Africa website
On Diaspora Diaries Alex Bell takes a closer look at the Mthwakazi People?s Convention (MPC), as a political and liberation movement. Alex is joined by the National Secretary and Director of International Relations for the MPC, Edwards Ngwana Maseko, who further explains why the MPC wants the Mthwakazi region to be recognised as a state separate from Zimbabwe. Maseko explains that Mthwakazi could be more prosperous than Zimbabwe if it were able to control its own economy and education systems, and argues that the Mthwakazi people are denied opportunities because of their cultural heritage. Hear the discussion on Diaspora Diaries.
Available on www.swradioafrica.com
click on PC archives then on Diaspora diaries 14 October 2008
Alex Bell: Hello again from me Alex Bell and welcome to this week?s edition of Diaspora Diaries. Now two weeks ago I was joined by representatives of the Mthwakazi People?s Convention ? a new political movement that is possibly going to make stirs in Zimbabwe?s political realm. Today I am joined by Edwards Ngwana Maseko who is the Director of International Relations and National Secretary for the MPC, to tell us a little bit more about the party.
Now Mr. Maseko maybe I can start by asking what you think of the current political atmosphere and the impasse that has been reached in cabinet talks between ZANU PF and the MDC at this current time?
Edwards Maseko: Oh ok. Yes, first I will explain it from the position of MPC. MPC has taken a position that we will only mention Zimbabwe in as far as how we can divorce from Zimbabwe. So the political situation that is happing, for us is a look and see. Because as far as MPC is concerned our state is already divided. Mthwakazi exists as a state on its own, neglected for all these years by the government of Zimbabwe. So we are saying that any political wrestling that is happening in Zimbabwe has not bearing on us. We only mention it because we are still going to negotiate with anyone who will rule Zimbabwe, since they are our neighbours. We are not really worried about how they wrestle themselves with the power hunger they have. Because all they talk about is power sharing, power this power that. They neglect the real grass roots requirements and interest of the people.
AB: But are there not concerns then that the situation being what it is, especially if we look at how the Mthwakazi people have been treated under the Robert Mugabe regime and not recognised, that the political tensions will still have an affect on the MPC?
EM: Of course. What we noticed is that the effect it has is that people back home still have the fear of the government and rightfully so. So when it comes to us talking about Mthwakazi we get more advice and feedback from people back home. The advice and feedback we get from home is that there is still that element of intimidation, that element of hunting down anyone who talks about their freedom which is a right. And so for that reason the situation back home is one that deviates the attention of the world from the real things that are happening in Mthwakazi as far as the government of Zimbabwe is concerned ? to people thinking that there is squabble between MDC and ZANU. So the real matter in Mthwakazi which is our freedom and the ability for us to develop ourselves is being overlooked by the international world focusing on the squabble which for us is just a quasi squabble ? they?re just fighting for power. So that is how its affects our region.
AB: So will the MPC not be contesting the actual positions of power that MDC and ZANU PF are fighting over?
EM: Are you saying that the MPC is competing with MDC and ZANU for the void in Mthwakazi?
EM: No. we are not at all. Because our citizens are saying? there is one thing I need to elaborate on. Some people think MPC just started off in the Diaspora which is a wrong notion. I come from Mthwakazi; I was born in Plum Tree which is a small town in Mthwakazi. And I suffered the same consequences that every body in Mthwakazi suffered, so we are actually a people that identified with a nation that Mzilikazi left for us. And then after independence of Zimbabwe the leadership then tried to belong also to Zimbabwe ? that is the leadership of the people coming from our region. But unfortunately the government and people from Zimbabwe did not accept us. So now what they are doing is that everyone is trying to take advantage of the unity that the people of Mthwakazi have. Because if you look at it honestly, the people in Mashonaland can form as many political parties as they wish. But the people of Mthwakazi have one thing ? this is commonality and this is the strength they are trying to utilise. So when ZANU thought they want to keep themselves in power in the rest of the country, they realised their strength would lie in the strength of the people of Mthwakazi, because the people of Mthwakazi tend to speak the same thing and act together. MDC took that advantage also and thought ?Aaah, if I?m going to fight ZANU, if I can win the hearts of the people of Mthwakazi, then I already have a large following behind me?. So we are not actually competing, we are withdrawing from them. The strength they have been abusing. Our strength we were trying to give them but they have not accepted us. They only wanted our strength to humiliate and abuse our strength.
AB: Now the MPC as a political movement for Mthwakazi ? the people in Mthwakazi, how will they then be affected and how will this benefit them compared to their neighbour Zimbabwe?
EM: Now how this will benefit our people is that currently we are denied proper education, we are denied access to the wealth of the country, but Mthwakazi also has a large product that it produces into the country. But if you got to Victoria Falls ? it is in Mthwakazi. It is a large income of foreign currency, but all that money is used to develop Harare. And then you go to the game reserves. Tourists come and watch these animals that are rare, when they come and see them in the wild, they come to Mthwakazi. That?s a foreign currency generating project. All that money is used to develop Harare. At the end of the day, what we are saying is that if that money could be used to develop those same areas, the people of Victoria Falls must bee seen to be having good houses, good education, good hospitals. But what do you see when you go to Victoria Falls? Shacks made of grass, plastic paper and corrugated tin. And do call that development? And then you go and see what Harare is like. So we will benefit a lot if we are allowed to control our own economy. We will benefit a lot if our children are taught?right now they are destroying the education system in Mthwakazi. A child is moulded from the time they are very young. I am proud of my mother tongue ? Ndebele. But if they bring a Shona speaking teacher, not that I hate the Shonas, but I don?t want them to subjugate me. So at the end of the day you are spoiling my language, you are destroying my culture and you are actually spiting me. You have no respect for my culture; you have no respect for my language.
AB: So really then, a main part of the MPC then is to get Mthwakazi as a really individually recognised state?
EM: Yes. Mthwakazi has existed before colonialism, when Mzilikazi carved that land. And historically there are people who like to distort thing for their own benefit. Africa has been made up of migrating tribes, due to war, drought and different things. So there were those, the same people who are in what we call Zimbabwe today, north of Mthwakazi, they tend that land by subjugating the other tribes that they had there. But the difference is that the people have been destroying Mzilikazi?s move northwards to build Mthwakazi. Mzilikazi when he met Mambo Tombale who was the ruler of the Kalanga people in that region, he did not fight those people. You go back to your history books and find out; historians will tell you. Mambo Tombale said ?Protect me from these invaders,? he meant the people of Zimbabwe, he meant the Kolono people of Zambia. And Mzilikazi and Mambo, we even have songs; they ruled that country together until Mambo died. And when Mambo was on his dying bed he told Mzilikazi that there can be no two kings. ?So you remain as the king and protect my children.? But people want to distort and say Mzilikazi took the land of the Shona. That Mthwakazi we know it to have been occupied by the Batwa people, the Tonga people, the Kalanga people ? who today are the majority of the Mthwakazi people. I myself have got Kalanga blood.
AB: Now Mr. Maseko, this is probably going to sound like a difficult question. But given the political situation, I know you?ve said you?re trying to remove yourself away from the political situation in Zimbabwe at the moment. But given the situation being what it is: the formation of the MPC at this time and having it recognised as a political movement given the political situation in Zimbabwe, does it not seem like this is really going to interfere with the groups aims at separating Mthwakazi as a separate region at this point in time?
EM: No it won?t. Because it is inside the people. This has always been inside the people. The people, even in the 1970s when radio stations were started for the African people in Rhodesia, the people of Matabeleland and the Midlands started a radio station called ?Mthwakaz?. That means this Mthwakazi thing is still inside the people. They are saying we are a nation on our own. So if an idea is inside the people it will never die. It will always be there. We are not worried what the Zimbabwe people are thinking. It?s easier for us because if we live under their subjugation, then generations coming after us might talk a different language than the one we are talking right now. But our generation is saying, we are proposing a velvet divorce. Let?s look at how the British came up and combined two nations into one for their own benefit. But after independence the nation of Zimbabwe clearly showed us that those two nations are existent as two nations because they tried to destroy us but they failed. So it is within us that we are Mthwakazi and we are not worried about what obstacles are ahead of us. What we want is to revive Mthwakazi and rebuild our nation where there will be dignity for our people.
AB: And is there support for the movement so far?
EM: Oh yes. The movement is supported mostly inside the country. We also come from inside the country. We know the weakness of operating a political movement as this one from inside Mthwakazi. ZANU is not going to rest - it will try to destroy us. You know that in any organisation or society there are those who will be attacked by the enemy at night and be given a choice between a stick and a bag of money. They?ll be told that ?you either tell us who the leadership is and get this money and enjoy it or we?ll destroy you if you are adamant.? So that way, our organisation will be weak. But our people inside, that is why I also left the country. I left the country for that reason so that I could strengthen Mthwakazi from outside. All liberation movements have been stronger coming from outside. When ZAPU fought for Zimbabwe, they became stronger when the leadership left Zimbabwe and fought from outside. When ZANU itself wanted liberation they left the country and fought from outside. Otherwise everybody would just rot in jail, if we stay inside there, and we won?t achieve what we want.
AB: And what about international support Mr. Maseko? Is that going to be necessary for the success?
EM: Yes, it?s going to be necessary because Mthwakazi has existed before as a body recognised by other international societies. For one, the British Crown was one of the first societies to recognise Mthwakazi. We know the importance of international relationships and we want to revive those international relationships. And we believe that our strength of international relations should start with England. Because England is the one that we believe was one of our, even though it was under different circumstances, it was one of the countries that had relations with Mthwakazi.
AB: And do you think that under the leadership of MPC that Mthwakazi as a region will be more prosperous and more successful than Zimbabwe?
EM: Right. That one I?ve always heard people talking, our own people, the Mthwakazi people, because they are denied opportunities. If you go to Mthwakazi today, you?ll find that in most top leadership, even if that Mthwakazi is educated, he will be replaced in a top position by somebody coming from another region. Because the objective is to destroy our people. I?ll give you an example: the city council of Bulawayo at one time was voted as the best run city council in the world. And that time was the time when our city fathers were leading that city council. So if you look at that, a city council being run so well, what about the total government? And if we go back to the structure of ZAPU itself when it was fighting the liberation war, go back to your records again and see how ZAPU was being run. Currently I have produced a book to try and correct some of the wrong notions about ZPRA. Because it was one of the best run liberation movements. We know the strength of our people. We know that they can run that country and we can actually lead in the region there.
AB: You?ve been listening to Diaspora Diaries. My guest tonight has been Edwards Ngwana Maseko who is the National Secretary as well as the Director of International Relations for the Mthwakazi People?s Convention. I?m Alex Bell. Thank you for listening.