SOUTHERN NEWS | Tshinga dares opposition parties

BULAWAYO - Makokoba legislator Tshinga Dube has dared opposition parties vowing to contest in the constituency saying he was taking no prisoners as he was almost hundred percent confident of retaining the seat.

The MDC Alliance, which is likely to pose a serious threat to the former War Veterans minister, has already opted for James Sithole — currently a seating councillor — to represent them for the constituency’s parliamentary election.

Also not to be overlooked is the Joice Mujuru-led People’s Rainbow Coalition (PRC) which has chosen former senator Matson Hlalo for the same constituency.

What, however, makes Makokoba constituency — which houses one of the oldest suburbs in the city — a more interesting and centre for attention is how Dube has had the constituency at the core of his heart and soul, so much that twice, he suffered major heartbreaks after losing a contest for the seat.

Firstly, it was in 2008, at the peak of Zimbabwe’s economic comatose and he had another attempt in 2013.

The loss was too much for him that at one point, he wanted to quit.

However, as fate would have it, after the MDC recalled its rebel legislators in 2015, Dube felt it was time to give it another try during the by-elections which were boycotted by the opposition, citing electoral irregularities.

Luckily, the gods smiled on him as he finally got it right.

In all these years, Dube has done something that has been received with mixed feelings across the constituency, including financial assistance.

This ranges from bringing foreign musicians to perform, foodstuff donations, sponsoring sporting activities and providing free health services to the community among others.

His opponents have seen it as clear vote-buying but he has always been called to defend himself.

“I have been giving to the people of Makokoba, even those outside the constituency, way before I became a Member of Parliament.

“This is how I was brought up to give and give as long I have the capacity to do so. Besides, I don’t segregate anyone on political grounds, I just give everyone,” Dube told church leaders after donating tonnes of maize to distribute to the needy over the weekend.

“Amidst all this, and with the election date yet to be announced, Dube feels he already has an upper hand ahead of everybody in the fight for the constituency.
“I am almost 99 percent confident of winning the seat,” he said.

Asked where he derives the confidence from, Dube said: “I trust the people. When you work well with people, we should learn to trust each other.”

He also explained the reason why he had found it tough to earn the ticket to Parliament in the past.

“It was simply because the people in the constituency had not ‘understood us’”.

“The MDC has been in charge here for about 15 years but they have done nothing, so the people have now realised that this is false belief.

“They now know that we are the game-changer in town.”

Observers are of the view that Dube is likely to bank on the vote dividing by various opposition parties who have characterised the political arena lately.

Regional parties fight for Byo

BULAWAYO - The country’s second largest city has since the turn of the millennium been regarded as an MDC stronghold in the process leaving the ruling Zanu PF resorting to scrounging for the rural vote.

Not even the 2005 MDC split could kill the opposition’s power base in Bulawayo, as the former labour-based movement led by the late ex-trade unionist Morgan Tsvangirai went on to retain seats in the city.

While the party has had several splits over the years along the arduous journey to rule this country, its stronghold in the city has remained intact. And with the formation of the MDC Alliance, analysts say the coalition of opposition parties stands a chance of running away with parliamentary seats.

However, it is the latest split which has seen former deputy prime minister Thokozani Khupe breaking away from the Nelson Chamisa-led MDC that has left some wondering if the jinx will finally be broken.

Khupe, who for the past years had regarded herself as the queen of Matabeleland, seems to have a lot of work to do in order to rewrite history and become the first breakaway faction to take away the party’s dominance of the city.

Not to be ignored also is the advent of what are now termed regional parties who have also threatened to run away with the MDC vote in this part of the world.

Talk of the Lovemore Moyo-led United Movement for Devolution, Mthwakazi Republic Party (MRP) led by Mqondisi Moyo and Alliance for National Salvation (Ansa) led by Moses Mzila Ndlovu.

While their bid to form a regional coalition pact flopped recently, they have separately been on the ground canvassing for regional support mostly using such tactics as marginalisation, devolution and tribal imbalances among others.

Zanu PF currently has six seats in the city which they won during by-elections after major opposition parties boycotted as part of their “no reform, no election” push.

History has, however, shown that the ruling party has its traditional voters who are usually never swayed by any grain of persuasion unless something major like the intra-factional politics has happened, like in the case of disgruntled Generation 40 (G40) members who have since formed the National Patriotic Front (NPF) party after being ruthlessly hounded out of the ruling Zanu PF.

Analysts who spoke to the Southern News this week here seemed to agree that Chamisa might stand a big chance ahead of the regional parties for a number of reasons.

Political analyst Gifford Sibanda felt that voters had a tendency of going for parties that are perceived to be big.

“History has shown that voters read less on where the candidates come from but tend to choose on those that seem to be having numbers...” he said.

“These (regional) parties may tap into the discontent by the general populace and civic society group that MDC Alliance and Zanu PF have not been able to provide candidates that reflect the tribal location of the constituencies. If this discontent counts for anything in terms of votes, they may stand a chance (but) only if they unite.”

Another political analyst Dumisani Nkomo said while the regional parties may possibly have an impact, their major chance could have been through a united regional pact.

“There is some wisdom on the part of regional parties in focusing on local government and Parliament elections since these formations are interest-based and have geo-specific issues which they want addressed; for example devolution and marginalisation,” he said.

“They need to form a formidable pact regionally and nationally to have an impact. They could win several seats here and there but the major challenge is that electoral behaviour in the past has tilted towards bigger parties at the expense of smaller parties or quality candidates,” Nkomo said.

He, however, said Chamisa had a chance of winning the election, particularly through what he termed “new generation of voters”.

Thando Gwinji, another political analyst, said politics anywhere was a game of numbers, but it was unfortunate that while the regional parties intended to make an impact, they didn’t have the numbers on their side.

“Political parties in Matabeleland and particularly in Bulawayo are well aware that politics is a game of numbers and are also aware that they do not have numbers.

They are too comfortable in that space to an extent that even their policies dwell on Matabeleland-specific issues and have nothing to offer the whole of Zimbabwe,” said Gwinji.

She added: “The Welshman Ncube-led MDC, Zapu and MRP have been around for quite some time pushing the same issues but have failed to have a coalition or proper working relationship that will help them have a joint voice in articulating issues of all generations.”

“They are selling themselves short by targeting a few seats through a few well-known individuals, and when the president of a whole party is running for MP then there is definitely something wrong with the ideology of the party.

“It certainly means they cannot plant their ideas in Zimbabweans and gun for support, how then will their policies be heard in Parliament by the same Zimbabweans,” Gwinji, who is also the Youth for Innovation Trust director, explained.


We’re not loved in Byo : Cool Crooners

BULAWAYO - When Abel Sithole — one of the founders of the renowned jazz outfit Cool Crooners passed on last July — many thought it was the end of the lengthy journey that had been traversed by the group in the cut-throat music industry.

While many notable groups in the country have found it hard to stay afloat after their leaders had fallen, it’s not the same blue story with the band that has been in existence for more than two decades.

Band leader George Salimu, alongside his two colleagues Lucky Thodhlana and Timothy Mkandla, have carried on with the work exhibiting that talent that has made them a household name in the country and beyond borders.

Southern News caught up with the Bhulugwe Lami hit makers who bared their souls on their life almost a year after one of their own left them.

According to Salimu, no one can fill the gap left by Sithole as they have continued to perform at live shows a man short.

“It has never been easy to lose one of your experienced members and founder of the band,” Salimu says.

“But all the same, life has to go on, we have a duty to entertain the nation and we are doing just that. We are still three and we have not yet recruited anyone to cover the gap. You know, anything can happen so we have to find someone who can be there in case one of us falls sick. We should have a fall-back plan as a band,” he said.

Before Sithole passed on, one of his major objections was lack of support for their music by local people.

However, Salimu, while admitting that their music was nowhere near being appreciated by locals, lays the blame on music promoters whom he says have failed to come to the party.

“Here in Bulawayo, we have people who like jazz but the people who are responsible for promoting music are not available. Established as we are, we rarely perform here in Bulawayo despite that the market for jazz music is there,” he said.

Emphasising the biblical reference that a prophet is not honoured in his homeland, Salimu sadly said while they have made Harare their second home, they last performed in their home city over a year ago.

“We can’t talk of performance here, Bulawayo to us is now more of our bedrooms where we come to sleep and go to work elsewhere. The last time we performed here was a year ago during the Zimbabwe International Trade Fair (ZITF) and that was after Oliver Mtukudzi had invited us to be part of his show there,” lamented Salimu.

He added: “We go to Harare almost every month because there are people who understand what jazz music is all about and people there like our music. There are people who know that an artist has to be paid after doing his work. The good thing is that we also have Mtukudzi who normally hooks us up during his many shows because he knows our worth music-wise.”

BAAs set City of Kings abuzz

BULAWAYO - The second edition of the Roil Bulawayo Arts Awards, characterised by glitz and glamour, is in the offing with organisers having set the city abuzz with their irresistible marketing and publicity stunts.

The awards ceremony will be held this Saturday at the Large City Hall.

Established to honour the amazing talent from Zimbabwe’s “cradle of culture”, the awards have created a buzz in the local arts community who felt they were marginalised by other national awards.

This year, the awards received a major financial boost after securing  $20 000 in sponsorship from the United Refineries Limited (URL) Roil Cooking Oil brand hence adopting term ROILBAA.

One of the event organisers, Raisedon Baya, was upbeat about the response they have received ahead of the ceremony where 44 lucky winners will be rewarded for their efforts in the arts industry.

“Great response so far,” quipped Baya.

“Over five corporates have chipped in with the City of Bulawayo supporting like last year with the venue as well as the special award. We have all nominees excited, talking and tweeting all over the place. We are expecting people to dress up like last year,” he said.

The award-winning playwright — who is also director of Intwasa Arts Festival — said while the inaugural awards ceremony held last year received all praises, this time around they have upped the game with remarkable improvements.

“The difference will be in the flow of the day. Remember this year we added a nominees’ dinner happening on Thursday 24. Then our red carpet is an event on its own from 4pm to 6pm, then the awards ceremony where we will be dishing out different acts. The vibe will definitely be different from last year,” he said.

Departing from the culture of inviting guest speakers, Baya said: “Our important guests are our nominees and partners.”

Baya further said about the event: “We want the event to be more of an experience for everyone. We want those who don’t come to the event to feel they missed something really profound....”


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