BULAWAYO – Makokoba is one of the hotly-contested constituencies in Bulawayo.
With a total of seven candidates vying for the same seat, it can only be the survival of the fittest.
Gorden Moyo representing mainstream MDC, Tshinga Dube Zanu PF, Thabile Ndlovu (MDC) Zenzo Lot Masuku (Zapu), Patricia Ncube (FZC) and Harry Peter Wilson of Mavambo/Kusile/Dawn are vying for the electorate’s vote in the polls.
But there is a surprise candidate, Thomeki Dube representing a newly-formed political outfit, Alliance Khumbula Ekhaya (Ake) seeking to upset the apple cart.
The little known party comprising a loose alliance and headquartered in Bulawayo has since fielded aspiring members of the Senate, House of Assembly and local Government for the forthcoming polls.
Of interest is how Thomeki has temporarily quit the music industry which has been his full time profession for over three decades to pursue political ambitions as an aspiring parliamentary candidate for Makokoba.
The Daily News Jeffrey Muvundusi (JM) this week spoke to Thomeki Dube (TD) co-leader of Bulawayo-based internationally-acclaimed acappella outfit Black Umfolosi.
JM: Who is Thomeki Dube?
TD: I was born in 1965 in Matobo District at Ratanyana, grew up there and later moved to the city where I did most of my education before exiled at the peak of war in 1977. I only returned in 1980 during ceasefire.
JM: When did you join politics?
TD: I have been with Zapu right from the time of my exile in Zambia. When I returned I have not been that active in the political scene, although I have been following the political proceedings closely.
Again, upon our return instead of pursuing politics we actually turned to music and we formed Black Umfolosi as a way of trying to integrate with the society like people who were perceived to be coming from war.
Later I joined the Patriotic Union of Matabeleland (Puma) which was formed when the two MDCs split, and then last year in August, we formed Ake which I am an active member.
JM: So have you left the group Black Umfolosi?
TD: No I have not left. I am still with the group and I have no plans of quitting music even if I am going to be elected for Parliament.
JM: Does your fellow band members understand this decision you have taken?
TD: Oh yes, they do understand it because they know that, in case I am elected into office, the welfare of artistes will be also taken care of.
JM: Don’t you think this will affect your image as a band?
TD: Not at all, because everything we do on daily basis is politics and one way or the other it’s determined by the politics of the day.
JM: Why are you coming out in the open as a politician now?
TD: I felt it’s time to stand up and say enough is enough. I have been watching these politicians dragging our country further into doldrums. If you look at Makokoba where I grew up, I almost shed tears as most people talk of youth unemployment and the vulnerable group of the elderly are just suffering.
The streets are full of crime because these youngsters are struggling to get jobs which are not available.
The other thing is, for me this is the right time when the political situation has improved, there is political tolerance now unlike before where one could be killed for letting known his political affiliation.
JM: So who is the president of your party Ake?
TD: Bancinyane Ndiweni?
JM: Why didn’t he put his name for the presidential seat if you are a serious party after all?
TD: We are a serious party, but as a party we felt that we can’t put a presidential candidate since we are a regional party which tries to fight for the wishes of the people from this part of the country.
We have realised that for the past three decades since black leadership assumed control, Matabeleland has continued to be marginalised.
We have deliberately been isolated especially by this party called Zanu PF.
JM: So what do you mean by regional party, are you not talking of tribalism here?
TD: No, regionalism has nothing to do with tribalism because in a region you have different tribes especially in Matabeleland region.
JM: So are you saying you are the right candidate to put all these problems to an end in Makokoba?
TD: Yes, I am because this is where I grew up, I know what exactly this constituency needs as compared to the likes of other candidates who are being imposed from outside the township to represent local people.
At least Thokozani Khupe tried but unfortunately she failed to reach what people in Makokoba expected her to do.
What we are saying as Ake is we are guided by the spirit of human rights. When voted, we shall ensure that decisions affecting local people have to be made at the local level and that government should adhere to provisions of the Constitution.
JM: With an artistic background do you think people will take you serious politically?
TD: Yes they do, because I have been working for this seat since last year and I am quite confident that I am the next legislator for Makokoba. I have done a lot of ground work for the people here.
Although most of them have been worried about what Ake is and a lot of questions being posted back and forth I am glad to say many are beginning to understand where I am coming from and my ambitions.
JM: Your last words?
TD: To all fellow artistes out there I say, for the first time in history, you will have a voice in Parliament, someone who fully understands your plight and to the people of Makokoba, here comes your son.