The Mzilikazi Day has come and it seems not only gone but almost instantly blown away and out of many people’s minds! You know something is amiss when the major subject of the news after a celebratory occasion is not the occasion being celebrated but the guest list.
Matabeles following the story would have been disillusioned by the allegations of a high-profile attendee, the Vice President of Zimbabwe Mr Phelekezela Mphoko, supposedly hijacking the occasion. Was it a straight forward case of a hijack or a case of naivety outsourcing the event to ZANU PF, a party with a chequered history in Matabeleland?
As much as it is right and proper to question Mr Mphoko’s broader motives for attending, I believe a balanced critique is desirable; as such, questions should be asked too of the organisers of the event. For instance, what was the criteria for invitations? As a general rule the ‘top table’ in such events must not be determined by convenience or made up of a random selection of high-profile human figures so as to curb avoidable conflict of interest. Mzilikazi Day is not a quasi-government event. What was the theme of this year’s celebrations? The aim of the event would influence the goals and determine who are or not to be invited to the event as leading guests.
My further concern is the apparent lack of public enthusiasm and involvement in the event. Yes, the weather was not particularly good on 5/9/15 but such a day, like Christmas, comes but once a year! Even more worrying is the lack of interest from the local business community. Is the event adequately marketed across the region? Encouraging local events across the region to run concurrently with the main event at Mhlahlandlela may help expand the scope of the celebrations.
There needs to be clarity about the Mzilikazi celebrations; they are not to be confused with a de facto seal of approval for the revival of a monarchy. Some people are ambivalent about the re-establishment of a monarchy while some are firmly against the revival of a monarchy in Matabeleland yet most are comfortable with celebrating the Mzilikazi Day.
While there is no problem with Mr Mphoko being invited and attending the Mzilikazi Day as any other Mthwakazi national, his role in such occasions should be clearly defined; his VP title plays no part. Our chiefs should take a central role and not politicians because that event is never meant as a political proclamation. In future organisers should seek to expand the scope of the Mzilikazi Day while reducing avoidable conflict of interest.