SECESSIONIST Mthwakazi Liberation Front (MLF)’s top officials said they will continue operating from outside the country as they feared government persecution if they returned home to press for a separate state of Matabeleland.
BY SILAS NKALA
The party’s South Africa-based international relations secretary, Chrispen Nyoni told Southern Eye last week that since the launch of his party in Bulawayo in 2010, several locally-based party members had been persecuted by government, while three top officials have been charged with treason.
The controversial political party is led by Fidelis Ncube, popularly known as General Nandinandi, who is based in South Africa.
Most of the party’s officials are based in South Africa, United Kingdom and the United States of America. These include Ncube’s deputy Churchill Guduza, Andrea Sibanda (secretary-general) and David Magagula (spokesperson).
Nyoni said the emergence of MLF and its push for restoration of Mthwakazi had unsettled the Zanu PF government, which viewed it as a group of insurgents.
“Never had they [Zanu PF government] thought of a Ndebele political outfit that would come up with a meaningful agenda advocating for the restoration of the Ndebele State to end the long suffering of the people from Matabeleland,” Nyoni said.
On March 3, 2011, police in Bulawayo arrested three MLF leaders, Paul Siwela who is now in exile, John Gazi and Charles Thomas and charged them with treason accusing them of plotting to unconstitutionally dethrone Mugabe. Gazi and Thomas were later acquitted while Siwela left the country when the trial was still going on.
Nyoni said government’s intolerance had forced most of his party leaders to flee the country, although the MLF has maintained its grassroots structures.
Nyoni said when MLF was formed some people in Bulawayo feared the inclusion of the word liberation, but consultations
were made widely in Matabeleland leading to the launch of the party.
MLF raised eyebrows when its members burnt a Zimbabwean flag in South Africa in April 2011 in protest against Zanu PF government’s reluctance to accept the party’s agenda.
President Robert Mugabe has threatened to clamp down heavily on the secessionist leaders.