MP Khumalo: Fighting for a just society

Outspoken and sometimes controversial MDC-T Bulawayo East Member of Parliament, Tabitha Khumalo, is a rare gem in Zimbabwean politics.

Tabitha Khumalo: “My biggest challenge is that I have no office.”
Tabitha Khumalo: “My biggest challenge is that I have no office.”

She has risen above cheap party politicking and taken on board everyone in her constituency to play a role in development.

Khumalo also continues to fight for a just society for everyone – including domestic workers and sex workers.

“My constituency is one of the biggest in the province and it has many people of different social classes. I always try to involve everyone in the constituency. My biggest challenge is that I do not have a constituency office to coordinate my activities,” said Khumalo, who is also one of the co-chairpersons of the Joint Operations, Monitoring and Implementation Committee.

Being an MP is not an enviable post, she admitted, as every individual expects different results from parliamentarians.

“It is impossible to please everyone when one is an MP.In most cases people expect their MPs to initiate developmental projects. They forget that our job is to effectively represent the constituency in Parliament by debating real issues,” she said.

Portia Chiwande , a resident in Woodwile, said Khumalo was doing an excellent job. “She has strongly spoken on the Gukurahundi issue in Parliament, and seconded a motion by Mutare central legislator, Innocent Gonese, for the amendment of the draconian Public Order and Security Act,” said Chiwande.

Portia Chiwande: a word of advice for Khumalo.
Portia Chiwande: a word of advice for Khumalo.

She also complimented Khumalo for distributing Hansard parliamentary debates in the constituency as well as articulating women’s issues, especially the need for government to subsidise sanitary wear.

But Chawande also had a word of advice for the MP.

“I think she should stay away from controversy. Things which she has openly supported, such as the legalisation of prostitution and homosexuality, are issues which I believe a lot of people, especially Christians, do not agree with her,” she said.

Silas Chigora: “The MP is very open and honest . She is one of the few MPS in the region who has managed to account for the constituency development funds. But we need more meetings with her.”
Silas Chigora: “The MP is very open and honest . She is one of the few MPS in the region who has managed to account for the constituency development funds. But we need more meetings with her.”

Khumalo, the chairperson of the SADAC HIV/ Aids Parliamentary Forum, recently mobilised more than 300 prostitutes in Bulawayo to join a representative union under which their activities would be legalised.

She said there was no point of denying the existence of sex workers and gays as they are party of society.

“I think it is high time that society gave them due recognition. We should not be blind to the fact that these people also require special access to health services – so we can achieve zero stigmatisation, zero HIV infection and zero Aids deaths,” she argued.

Dominic Shumba: “I voted for Khumalo during the previous election. If I was MP I would  fight for the construction of a secondary school in Mahatshula.”
Dominic Shumba: “I voted for Khumalo during the previous election. If I was MP I would fight for the construction of a secondary school in Mahatshula.”

The MP, who is also the second vice president of the Lovemore Matombo led faction of the Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Union, said one ofthe major challenges was the shortage of publichalls for meetings.Bulawayo East constituency has 24 746 registered voters, according to 2008 statistics.

“Following the ban of political meetings in schools, we do not have venues to hold meetings. There are no council or public halls in my area. I use my own money to pay for venues like hotels. In most cases I also use my own money to hire transport to ferry people to meetings,” she said.

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