Matebeleland secessionists burn Zimbabwe flag in South Africa

JOHANNESBURG,- More than 500 Zimbabwean exiles from Matebeleland province took part in a controversial march for freedom organised by the militant and secessionist Mthwakazi Liberation Front (MLF) whose campaigns for a separate state have led to the arrest of the movement's senior leaders in Bulawayo.

The march which was closely monitored by police attracted scores of South Africans sympathetic to the plight of the people of Matebeleland. During the march a Zimbabwean flag was burnt to ashes by the protesters saying it was a symbol of oppression and discrimination against ethnic groups in Matabeleland province.

“Our march was very successful and attracted many South Africans who are sympathetic to our cause, ” said MLF spokesman Sabelo Mavikinduku Ngwenya, a lawyer by profession.The toyi-toying protesters singing struggle songs brought business to a standstill along Sauer and Bree Streets.

The organisers of the march also sent a delegation to the Zimbabwe Embassy in Pretoria to deliver the group,s document outlining how the state of Mthwakazi would be created and which districts in Zimbabwe would be part of that country.

\r\n

The delegation has been instructed to deliver the document directly to Ambassador Phelekezela Mphoko, a struggle hero and Mugabe loyalist. Mphoko also comes from Matabeleland province but has openly opposed those campaigning for secession.

Officials at the embassy in Pretoria said they did not receive any document from MLF.President Robert Mugabe is on record as saying Zimbabwe will never be divided into two ethnic based states.But secessionists in Matabeleland say the people of the region have suffered enough marginalisation and discrimination under Zimbabwe,s unitary system.

\r\n

MLF leaders who include Paul Siwela, John Gazi and Charles Thomas are currently facing charges related to treason.If they go for trial and are convicted, they could face death sentence.