BULAWAYO – Opposition secessionist party, Mtwhakazi Republic Party (MRP), will field local government and parliamentary candidates to challenge President Robert Mugabe’s Zanu PF in the forthcoming key 2018 election.
Since its formation three years ago, MRP had declared that it would not take part in any election in Zimbabwe as their mission was to withdraw the whole of Matabeleland and Midlands provinces from the southern African country and form a new separate and independent Mthwakazi State.
But in a surprise move, MRP leader Mqondisi Moyo told journalists after the party’s third anniversary meeting that the decision to participate in the elections came from its members.
“Due to our consultations with people on the ground, we got the mandate that come 2018 to participate,” Moyo said.
“Our motivation for participation is mainly centred on our Mthwakazi territory from Beitbridge to Zambezi from Plumtree to Midlands that is Munyathi River.”
Moyo said they will field candidates in wards and constituencies in Matabeleland and Midlands region.
“We are not concerned much about contesting in Zimbabwe elections but we are concerned about Matabeleland and Midlands where our people are, that is where our interest is.
“This will help us legitimise our struggle to show that we have people behind us, to prove to the entire world that we are indeed the party for the people of Matabeleland,” he said.
Moyo, however, said he was not going to stand as a presidential candidate come 2018.
“We are not going to contest for the presidency because if we do that it will appear as if we are interested in governing Zimbabwe, yet that’s not within our plans. If you talk of presidency that becomes a Zimbabwean thing, yet we are Mthwakazians,” he said.
The idea to form a breakaway State was first mooted in 2010 by Matabeleland Liberation Front (MLF) which disbanded a year later after its leaders were dragged to court on treason charges for distributing fliers urging people to rise against the Mugabe government for alleged marginalisation.
While two of the co-accused John Gazi and Thomas Sithole were later acquitted, MLF leader Paul Siwela skipped the border into self-imposed exile, claiming there were attempts on his life.
Siwela, who is believed to be holed up in Canada, appears not to have given up the fight as he continues to make noise on social media, re-branding his party to Mthwakazi Liberation Organisation (MLO).