Sibanda denies calling for Ndebele state

OPPOSITION Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) deputy leader Gibson Sibanda did not call for an independent state for the Ndebele-speaking people, party spokesman Paul Themba Nyathi has said.



Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif”>Nyathi said the story published in a local newspaper last week was not only false but also a “reckless and dangerous propaganda attempt to use tribalism as an instrument of political mobilisation”.


“Not only is this allegation untrue, it also appears to be a deliberate attempt by the newspaper to fan ethnic tensions in the MDC and the country as a whole,” Nyathi said.


“Zimbabweans do not want political leaders who play the ethnic card to advance a parochial political agenda. Propaganda of this sort will take Zimbabwe down the path of chaos, suffering and misery.”


The Daily Mirror last Tuesday carried a story, headlined “Sibanda calls for Ndebele state”, claiming the MDC deputy leader had at a rally the previous week said: “Ndebeles can only exercise sovereignty through creating their state (like) Lesotho, which is an independent state in South Africa and it is not politically wrong to have the state of Matabeleland inside Zimbabwe.”


The MDC said the Daily Mirror story was a “careless and irresponsible propaganda stunt premised on the flawed assumption that the majority of Zimbabweans are gullible consumers of calculated but transparent lies”.


A senior MDC official said there was no Mirror reporter at the MDC meeting in Nkayi where Sibanda allegedly made the remarks.


“It was not a rally but a district meeting. There was certainly no journalist there. The only strangers were police and CIO officers who insisted on being present because the meeting had not been cleared by the police,” the official said.


“What happened was that an MDC district member asked a question about problems in the party and power devolution. Sibanda answered saying there was a need to resolve problems in the party. On devolution, he simply quoted the MDC constitution and interpreted that in Ndebele.”


The MDC official said Sibanda read out Article 3, Section 3.3 (b) of the MDC constitution, which says: “The MDC shall seek the mandate of the people to govern the country and work for an open democracy in which national government is accountable to the people through the devolution of power and decision-making to the provinces and local institutions and structures.”


Another official said: “This is what Sibanda said and not those fabricated remarks. I think the police or CIO officers at the meeting gave the story to the Mirror. We have checked with the paper, the story was not written by any of their journalists. It’s fiction.”


A column in the government-controlled Herald written by an anonymous author, Nathaniel Manheru but often ascribed to presidential spokesman George Charamba, seized on the opportunity to lecture the paper’s readers on Ndebele history, while effectively in denial about the existence of an Ndebele society in Zimbabwe.


The Herald recently published a story claiming MDC official Victor Moyo had said opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai would not be allowed in Bulawayo because it was “Ndebele territory”. Moyo has dismissed the assertion as a fabrication. – Staff Writer.

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