Freedom Alliance entry into politics motivated by poor Mat’land education results

Newly launched political party, Freedom Alliance, says their entry into politics was motivated by the poor education performance in Matabeleland, with a close inspection revealing the country’s socio-economic status is to blame.

Leader of the new party, Dr Samukele Hadebe, a public policy and development expert, said party members came together after taking note of the ‘painful’ conditions learners went through and their performance in school especially in districts of Matabeleland North.

“Year after year, you hear 40 primary schools had a zero pass rate. It’s that reality to say we are an indictment, therefore we have to realise the cycle of poverty is what creates this problem,” he told CITE.

“Perhaps the child goes to school without adequate nutrition, without a uniform but above all the majority of these learners are walking, some more than 15 km to the nearest school that does not have the necessary learning material or infrastructure. Sometimes they don’t even have the appropriate qualified staff.”

Freedom Alliance was launched on December 18, 2021 in Bulawayo at Stanley Square with Dr Hadebe at the helm, also a former Deputy Secretary General of the MDC-T when it was led by Dr Thokozani Khupe.

Dr Hadebe is deputised by former Foreign Affairs deputy minister and ex-Bulilima West MP, Moses Mzila Ndlovu and Senzeni Mpofu.

The party leader said initially people started coming together to discuss the Grade Seven and O’ level results, where educators and those supporting some learners had a problem with the results.

“That was a real trigger to say, ‘we can’t have this’ and by the way these meetings were not political. It was an issue of responsible parents worried about their own children failing in schools that we went to, even when conditions were worse, as some of us learnt in Rhodesia but we managed to pass the Grade Seven. Now 40 years later our children are failing in those same schools and even the new schools we built,” he said.

Dr Hadebe noted that sometimes people zero in on teachers’ capability, but “the truth is the problem is bigger than just the infrastructure.”

“We have to factor in the state of the families where the child comes from and the environment around. We wanted to hold an imbizo to address the issue of education but there were other issues of poverty, children who went to school starving, rate of malnutrition especially in our region, rate of mothers who can’t get enough food, number of households led by children, rate of HIV infections, rate of those who suffer from cancer. We are leading in all those negative indices then it dawned on people to say, ‘what is happening in schools is just a symptom of a fundamental situation in the political and socio economic base – how we are governed,” he noted.

“People started talking about how we are treated as third class citizens – you can’t say no because you have also suffered it. People said ‘let’s address the bigger issue,’ that’s when the idea of saying, ‘can’t we also bring in political players,’ because there’s a political dimension, came in.”

 Dr Hadebe acknowledged Freedom Alliance also came to fill a gap where there were few political parties born in Matabeleland.

“We know the political situation and attempts to bring a political party to the Matabeleland region. It was tried in 2013, it didn’t succeed; it was tried in 2018 and also failed, so people said we should just try instead of just looking at political parties and trying to think they will come together,” he said.

“We decided to bring everyone – a set of activists, leaders, players and you will realise some of the people have never been in the political parties. Some are from human rights defence, education but of course when you talk about political issues you need political giants who have experience, which is why they are part but you still find people with a background of education and health. In a nutshell it’s a broad composition of individuals and organisations alike.”

Dr Hadebe added building the new party was still an ongoing process, adding “everyone was very much welcome.”

“We are making a call, we have a formula to change the fate of the people. This is a home for all. Our constitution, which has just been adopted, has a clause that you can be a member of your political party, even its president but you can still come and contest to be a leader of the Freedom Alliance,” noted Dr Hadebe.

“We do not believe there is any group of individuals who have a monopoly on how to solve or move society progressive forward. It needs all of us.”

He added: “It’s a fact the country is divided into two, those who are on the receiving end, are hoping the beneficiaries will do something but they are not doing something. You know we have suffered, it’s not a secret, how we got to where we are, why its schools are not performing. As Freedom Alliance, we are saying we don’t want this matter to be lost to the periphery, we have to face it squarely and we can only do it by going to the citizens. Together we speak power to the truth and say let’s remove Zanu-PF.”

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