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Political bigotry and not ethnic diversity the problem

Tsvangirai is yet to let me down; he is consistently clueless and will confidently display it whenever given the chance as was the case at White City Stadium in Bulawayo recently. His concerns of what he perceives to be a peace threatening culture of ethnic extremism are imaginary at best and a lie at worst.

Reading the cynical message Tsvangirai presented to a small audience at White City Stadium, one would have been forgiven for thinking humanity came to existence only 72 hours before his speech. He creates, describes and gives an impression of what sounds like a new and growing trend of individuals placing undue but greater emphasis on their ethnic identity, and without a coherent and objective argument concludes that is a dangerous development!

This unfortunate conclusion is not only cynical but further evidence of Morgan’s desperation for power, the shallowness and narrowness of his leadership qualities and the apparent lack of socio-political understanding and a general lack of a coherent agenda within the MDC Alliance. Ethnicity is as old as humanity and has of itself never been a problem, but the human manipulation of identity for political advantage has always been a teething problem.

Those with experience of Tsvangirai’s leadership will appreciate the width and depth of his limitations as a leader. He is not a creative person and leader but a beneficiary of tribalism who finds himself in his current position because the majority ethnic Shona people cannot imagine a leader from the Ndebele or any other tribe apart from Shona. This delivery was the best he could master; he had to say something in his inaugural speech since the formation of the MDC Alliance, so he did:

“I am very concerned, that we are now creating small groupings, Zezuru unconquerable, Karanga invincible, Ndebele hegemony, Manyika with their eastern grouping.” He goes on to say, “Now this is a very dangerous development. This country must not be divided on ethnicity. If we want to build a nation that is proud of its identity and integrity, then we must destroy the culture of ethnicity,” he said.

This brash call of the ‘abolition’ of ethnicity from a leader of an organisation supposedly holding hopes for people’s democratic aspiration does not sit well with some of us who believe in change. Intolerance of difference and democracy do not go hand in hand. What we have noticed since the setting up of the MDC Alliance in the last few weeks is the growing intolerance of any views that oppose the alliance and what it stands for. Undemocratic people can never anchor democracy; Matabeleland cannot afford to allow itself to be blindly transferred into the Tsvangirai alliance prison from the Mugabe unity accord incarceration.

Whatever he means by his call for the destruction of ‘…the culture of ethnicity’ is, on the surface, disturbing especially in that he has yet to give us detail of his idea of a Zimbabwean identity. Significantly, he is not telling us what is wrong with people relating with their ethnic identity and why his Zimbabwean identity vision is mutually incompatible with ethnic diversity. Many of us find knowing who we are both emotionally and socially empowering; that I am proud of belonging to a specific ethnic group does not mean I hate any other ethnicity.

Apart from ganging up against ZANU PF and Robert Mugabe and attempting to facilitate his own ascension to the presidency, Tsvangirai does not know what else the alliance is for. Is Zimbabwe divided into ethnicity or made up of people from different ethnic groups?

There is nothing new, let alone dangerous about laying importance on one’s social identity among human beings; we are by nature social beings and without a common identity we will be lost in a dangerous egoistic mist of perceptions; socialisation makes us appreciate the importance of others around us therefore helping us define our responsibilities and appreciate our rights more within our geographic space often made up of diverse communities.

Identifying with one’s ethnic group is of itself not a dangerous behaviour but a natural outcome of human socialisation. The only time our social identity starts being a problem is when incompetent politicians start targeting and manipulating this specific form of identity for political goals. That is when some social groups start perceiving their needs to the exclusion of all other population groups; at this point empathy goes, respect flies through the window and rogue politicians laugh their way to power.


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