ZAPU’s Tsholotsho parliamentary candidate, Leonard Mthombeni, says when elected into office, he will work with the community and will prioritise development.
Mthombeni, 68, who once served as Ward 15 councillor for three terms, said representing people was not new to him and going to Parliament would enhance community development.
“I served three terms from 1998 until 2008. I was chairperson of projects until I became council chair. I am aware of the challenges affecting us as a community,” he said while addressing a rally at Mbamba Village in Tsholotsho South Sunday during the launch of his by-election campaign.
Mthombeni observed that as a councillor, one’s duties were limited as they could not formulate national laws.
“If you want other developmental programmes you have to go beyond, so I am thankful to the locals who approached me to represent them,” he said.
“When I was on the council, people used to call me Silwane (Lion) because I was serious about implementation. I always say I am a fish in the water, you people are the water and we must move together so we can all benefit, not I as Mthombeni alone.”
The MP aspirant said if he were to win the Tsholotsho South seat, he would draw attention to water challenges, plight of the education sector, poor road infrastructure and lack of transport in the district.
“Tsholotsho is a dry place and water is the number one problem we have. Boreholes break down often and we are told to contribute money that we don’t have by authorities,” Mthombeni said.
He added that it was painful to see children not going to school because teachers’ concerns were not addressed by the government.
“Very soon, children will have to write examinations. What will they write? This is what I want to bring to Parliament’s attention. Teachers are a crucial skill set to these children. What kind of a country is this, that mistreats its workers?”
Mthombeni pointed out Zimbabwe is well-resourced, with a variety of minerals, yet was failing to use that revenue to pay civil servants.
“Why not say revenue from gold can take care of teachers and other civil servants, so that children can go to school,” he said.
He also criticised the government’s policy on transport, saying monopolising the sector had put entrepreneurs out of business.
“If there are 2 000 kombis, the driver and conductor have four children each, add that together with their partners makes eight people who rely on the business. That is eight individuals per family multiplied by the 2 000 kombis, which means 16 000 people are affected in one day,” Mthombeni said.
The issue of poor road infrastructure was a priority, he added, saying it was costing development.
“How does transport come to Tsholotsho when cars drive on water because there are no roads. You place sand on top of tar during the rainy season then you go around singing that you are busy fixing roads,” he said as he took a dig at the central government.
“There is rampant crime in the country, we have police officers who, even if they desire to catch criminals there is no transport for them to move around. These are issues that we need to address in our constituency.”
The MP hopeful added the media sector also needed reforms.
“We have a national broadcaster, ZBC, that lies all the time. Media should be free, if ZBC says this and Studio 7 says that, we can then decide which one is telling the truth, not to have a one-way traffic -see Zanu PF everyday yet you pay licenses,” Mthombeni said.
He added that he would also push for devolution to be implemented in line with Section 268 of the constitution.
“We can even do away with the Constituency Development Fund if we can manage our own resources and use revenue accordingly,” he said.
Mthombeni is also a former freedom fighter. He said he returned back to the country in 1982 after “staying in the bush for six years.”
He also did his education at Weimar in East Germany.
The rally was attended by ZAPU president, Sibangilizwe Nkomo, members of the national executive and ex-ZPRA cadres.