Wednesday 5 September 2018


Bulawayo councillors’ chief whip Silas Chigora has defended ward 24 councillor Arnold Batirai who was harassed by rowdy residents for using Shona while taking oath of office saying this was uncalled for and tantamount to xenophobia.

During the councillors swearing-in ceremony last Friday, Batirai first took the oath of loyalty in English which the rest of the councillors had used, but surprisingly went on to recite his oath of office in vernacular.

This did not go down well with residents and activists who had come to witness the event.
After protesting using tribal slurs, the residents later manhandled Batirai inside the council chambers as they accused him of disregarding them.

Council Chamber secretary Sikhangele Zhou said it was Batirai’s constitutional right to use any of the 16 languages recognised by the country’s supreme law.
However, Chigora who is councillor for ward 4 said the actions by the residents and activists were unfortunate.

“For political activists to come inside the council chambers and attempt to drag and beat up an elected councillor on grounds of tribalism is unprecedented,” he said.

Chigora identified some of the activists as those from the Mqondisi Moyo-led MRP.
“MRP had candidates during the last elections and were rejected by the same residents they purport to represent because their secessionist agenda is not supported by people of Bulawayo. They are antagonists”.

Chigora said these were just a few extremists who “are bent on dividing instead of building, they prefer driving looking through the rear view mirror.”
“MRP wants to effect the equivalent of xenophobic attacks and we can’t condone that. It is not tolerated and can’t go unchallenged.

“Right minded people of Bulawayo must not allow to be divided and be used by this retrogressive force.
“Such hooliganism against elected officials is undemocratic, intimidative and tantamount to attempting a coup,” he fumed.

Adding: “MRP can accept English which is a foreign language but are quick to attack a councillor who has spoken in a local Zimbabwean language embodied in our Constitution what hypocrisy is that?”

MRP’s Moyo denied the allegations saying; “It’s not MRP leading the demo but it is the residents of Bulawayo who were disrespected by the drunk councillor who called the residents hooligans,” Moyo told Southern News.

“MRP as a big stakeholder and the voice of Bulawayo and Mthwakazi is only supporting the noble cause by the aggrieved residents not forgetting that outside politics MRP members are also residents of Bulawayo,” he said.

Meanwhile, Southern News got hold of Batirai who said despite the negative publicity he remained in good spirits and ready to work for the people regardless of ethnic issues.

This comes as activists here have lately been calling for Batirai, a People’s Democratic Party (PDP) youth leader to be recalled from council as a result.

A PDP  official has indicated that his party is still looking into the issue.
But Batirai is unfazed.

“Firstly, I should dismiss the allegations that I was drunk, honestly what time could I have got drunk that early?” Batirai said.

“Those were just reports to assassinate my character as a new councillor, maybe perhaps due to my tribe, but I am strong as a fiddle and raring to go.

“Secondly, I only received the council invite for the swearing-in ceremony an hour before the event and I was relaxed at home, that’s why I arrived a bit late for the ceremony.”

On the reason why he used Shona to recite the oath of office, Batirai said: “Since when did it become a crime for us as Zimbabweans to use our mother language? We are all Zimbabweans who are proud of their culture. Daily News


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