BY MTHANDAZO NYONI
Mthwakazi Republic Party (MRP) leader Mqondisi Moyo has become one of the most controversial politicians in Matabeleland, leading a secessionist movement that has been in the cross hairs of government for years.
Moyo (MM), a former government employee, told our reporter Nqobani Ndlovu in a wide-ranging interview that his group is being persecuted by the authorities for their beliefs.
Below are excerpts from the interview.
NN: When, where was MRP launched? What drove you to form MRP?
MM: MRP was formed and launched on January 11, 2014 here in Bulawayo at the Presbyterian Church.
Actually, the idea to form MRP came around 2013.
It happened that before the 2013 elections we had approached Zapu and MDC led by Welshman Ncube as Mthwakazi Youth Leaders Joint Resolution where we were a pressure group.
We wanted the two political parties not to contest each other in the 2013 elections on the grounds that Matabeleland and Midlands had already lost political power to Zanu PF.
We were saying MDC and Zapu should consolidate and claim back the seats in Matabeleland and Midlands.
Unfortunately, that did not materialise as the two parties contested each other.
We then came up with an idea called Alliance Khumbule’khaya. This was meant to be a combination or call for all the Matabeleland-led civic parties and political organisations to come together and contest elections under that banner to reclaim lost political power.
It comprised organisations such as the Patriotic Union of Matabeleland (Puma) then led by Bancinanyane Ndiweni and other organisations.
We contested in the 2013 elections, I contested in Emakhandeni but due to lack of resources, we lost dismally in those elections.
After the elections, we then regrouped to say what is the way forward, and that is when the thought of launching MRP was hatched, with me as founding president.
NN: Is MRP a secessionist party? What is your response to critics who dismiss you as a tribal party?
MM: We are a unique political party, but what we are refusing to be called is that we are secessionist.
What we are doing is not secessionist or secessionism.
Under the United Nations Declaration Charter, it is stated that self-determination is legal.
We are fighting for self-determination.
We are simply calling what we are doing a restoration agenda on the basis that historically Matabeleland and Mashonaland were two separate countries.
We are also not tribalist, but a party representing 13 tribes.
We are inclusive of all the tribes found in Matabeleland.
NN: But is there a difference with what you are describing and secessionism?
MM: It’s on record that these were two separate countries, and in 1923 then came the amalgamation of Mashonaland and Matabeleland without the consent of the peoples of the two regions.
We are not seceding, but we are simply restoring what this was before.
We want political governance for Matabeleland, self-determination.
NN: And whom are you lobbying in your push for self-determination?
MM: We have declared 2021 as a year of international lobbying whereby we are saying we are lobbying the world to come to our rescue, and not forgetting that we have countries like Britain who are the biggest contributors to this situation that we find ourselves in in Matabeleland.
So we are reminding them of all these historical facts on Gukurahundi.
We are also reminding North Korea of the role they played in Gukurahundi.
It cannot be an overnight thing, but we regard them as key stakeholders in our push for self-determination.
NN: How does MRP fund its operations?
MM: We rely much on our membership subscriptions.
We haven’t had a donor for the past seven years.
Our takeoff was very sluggish because we did not have any donors.
You will realise that parties like MDC were formed in 1999 and already had donors, but with our cause, very few donors can come on-board because, for example, the West is an interested party because of the role they played during Gukurahundi.
We are also happy that when these donors fund these organisations, their funding comes with strings attached, but we are teaching our members to own the struggle, and also fund it.
NN: You have been arrested several times. Have you done any count, and how is this affecting you and your family members particularly now when you claim that you are in hiding?
MM: I think I have been arrested over 17 times and in all of them the police had never come to my house at night as was the case on March 10.
It was a first; it was unique and I feel that those people either wanted to kill me or kidnap me.
To this day, they continue visiting residential homes of my relatives interrogating them about my whereabouts.
They have not given up on my persecution, but whether they kill me or not, the seed has already been planted.
I have understood that politics is my calling. That I cannot run away from.
So whether they intimidate me or persecute me, yes there is no human being who can claim that they are not afraid of death.
However, in the process of that fear, and persecution, I am being motivated, and inspired to do more because it sends a message that whatever I am doing with my colleagues in the MRP, it really threatens this government.
If whatever we were doing was not a threat to them, we were not going to be facing these arrests.
I am even encouraged that whatever persecutions that we go through, they also went through them during the Smith regime era.
We expect all these challenges, but we remain focused.
During my years of activism, I have learnt to manage stress associated with the persecution.
However, it’s not easy to operate under the conditions that I am going through.
NN: And for MRP, how do you compare the treatment of your party under the late president Robert Mugabe and current President Emmerson Mnangagwa?
MM: I think Mnangagwa’s era is even worse than that of Mugabe.
So many arrests of our members have happened during Mnangagwa’s era more than Mugabe’s era.
He is even worse than Mugabe.
He has exposed his true colours.