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Matabeleland not a cradle for ethnic discrimination

To most people in Matabeleland (Mthwakazi) the experience of Zimbabwean independence has been anything but independence; we have first-hand experience of the segregation of people along ethnic grounds; discriminating against languages people speak and/ or race has become a significant part of ZANU PF facilitated Mashonaland freedom. It is a disgrace that 36 years into what was celebrated as independence a deep distrust remains between Matabeleland and Mashonaland.

Mthwakazi is a proud nation that knows what authority is worth respecting and how to bow to it; with respect to Zimbabwean authority there is nothing worth bowing to right now. We have come a long way, from pre-independence colonialism to the post-colonialism Gukurahundi atrocities of the early 1980s. It is political negligence that in 2016 ethnic discrimination and inequality still saturate Zimbabwe in exactly the same degree as in the 1980s, only different techniques are employed.

Gross as it sounds, there is a lesson to be learned by Mthwakazi society from the ZANU PF led government; the lesson is simply that you do not build one nation by crushing human beings who are socially different from you. Gukurahundi was ZANU PF’s idea of building one nation, murdering Matabeles to create an ethnic Shona domain! We are witnesses to the result: no wider has the gap between the two communities been.

If [as Matabeles] we desire a society without discrimination, accommodation should be the platform on which that society is built. A person is a person no matter their ethnicity; no one should feel obliged to be what they are not; people should be who they are. Human beings should not be judged on the basis of social descriptors over which they have no choice or control. No child is born with an ethnicity, they are born into one; society drills into the child attitudes about that imposed ethnicity and attitudes towards other ethnicities.

We do not have to share the same opinions as others but we need to be respectful through our differences. There can never be respect for others in the absence of internal humility; it is the respect we hold for others that guides our manners. If we want to build a society without discrimination; discrimination must play no part in the creation of that society. Accommodation of all and not the management of some ethnic and racial groups should be the platform on which the just Mthwakazi society we desire is built.

We want Mthwakazi freedom and liberty in order to reform our social system not so that we have the opportunity for reverse discrimination. Let us not idolise ethnicity but people’s positive contribution to society. The Mthwakazi state I desire is a community devoid of fear and hate; I do not aspire to a society fundamentally governed by unsafe subjective interpretations of the world around us but one enriched by mutual trust and respect between different ethnic groups and races.


5 responses to “Matabeleland not a cradle for ethnic discrimination”

  1. Well said. I was unaware of the Mthwakazi freedom and liberation movement prior to this, probably because I grew up in Mashonaland!


    • Thank you for your comment Leo; yes there are people from Matabeleland who, for years, have been complaining of the socioeconomic political imbalance between the two regions (Matabeleland and Mashonaland) since ‘independence’. Matabeleland, along with white Zimbabweans is yet to experience the benefits of ‘independence’; I am sure you are aware of the Gukurahundi atrocities when thousands of Matabeles were murdered by the State in the early 1980s. This blog however, does not represent any particular socio-political organisation but seeks to highlight the different socio-political challenges and needs of Matabeleland.

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      • Yes TP, I read of those massacres. Quite awful really. One thing I’ve wondered though was how Zanu PF was able to stake a foothold in Matabeleland after such atrocities? I am not too aware of the regional party structure but I do know that Ndebeles have held senior posts in the party over the years – Vice President etc. Is this acceptable to most people in the province?


        • I think the politically imbalanced Unity Accord signed in 1987 between ZANU PF and PF ZAPU leadership gave ZANU PF a foothold in Matabeleland; the agreement basically eliminated PF ZAPU as a real force in Matabeleland. I believe too that many in Matabeleland are not particularly fooled by the presence of people from the region in some senior positions in government. Holding a senior position is one thing, holding the authority that goes with the post is another; our problem is not necessarily the ethnicity of leaders but the unequal access to opportunity. Zimbabwe’s biggest problem is that ethnicity remains an important factor in accessing opportunity; the institutional weakness is all down to tribalism and that is the major concern for many in Matabeleland.

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