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Is Tribalism the Bane of Zimbabwean Politics?

30 Dec 2011 at 12:33hrs | Views
When some members of the then ZANU political party broke away to form ZANU in 1963 the only senior Ndebele ethnic leader was Enos Nkala in whose house in Highfiels ZANU was formed.

We are told ZAPU split because of "tactical" differences. ZAPU's top leadership besides the leader , the late Joshua Nkomo and few others consisted of many Shona ethnic leaders like James Chikerema, Daniel Madzimbamuto, Joseph Msika, Samuel Parirenyatwa, Josiah Mushore Chinamano, Willie Dzawanda Musarurwa, Ariston Maguranyanga Chambati, George Rubatso Marange and many others but it was called a tribal party by those who broke away to form ZANU until 1987 Unity Accord.

In 2005 MDC split because there were "too many Ndebeles" in top leadership positions. Although the then leader Morgan Tsvangirai's faction beside Thokozani Khuphe had no other senior Ndebele leader in their ranks it was glorified as the "mainstream" MDC, with the one led by the late Gibson Sibanda a Ndebele named the "break-away" or "smaller" faction of MDC.

The "smaller" faction also failed themselves by "inviting" Prof Arthur Mutambara a Shona to lead it. Truly speaking, poor Mutambara did not enjoy his term of office as he was accused of "selling out" to Ndebeles. Interestingly, the media christened him a ZANU (PF) man and everyone cried foul on why the party was keeping him. Some even proposed that he be recalled for being "ZANU". The party was patient enough until the congress where he voluntarily stepped down when it was clear he could not match his then secretary general Professor Welshman Ncube who had garnered 39 votes against his 13 in his "safe" Harare province in presidential nominations.

Instead of the media and the general public of Zimbabwe congratulating Professor Welshman Ncube and MDC for smooth transfer of power and being exemplary alas, he was accused of pushing a "Ndebele agenda" and I remember a journalist friend of mine based in Harare remarking that Professor Welshman Ncube have finally managed a palace coup.

It was not long before even the President of Zimbabwe Robert Mugabe remarked in Da re Salam thet he would not remove Mutambara from his DPM post until unless he himself resigned. This was even before the MDC standing committe re-deployed him . The same words said by president Mugabe were said again by Mutambara when the party redeployed him. The leader of MDC-T Morgan Tsvangirai when asked if he would help Prof Welshman Ncube to be sworn in as DPM remarked in Shona saying "Nhamo yemumwe hairambirwi sadza".

The President also remarked to the effects that he "enjoys" working with Tsvangirai and Mutambara. Is it by coincidence that MDC led by Prof Welshman a Ndebele is christianed a "breakway" or "smaller" function of MDC when Job Sikhala's MDC 99 and Mutambara's project are not called by such names?

Is it true that MDC of Prof Welshman Ncube is tribal Ndebele party when of top 9 leaders elected direct by provinces at congress only 3 are enthic Ndebele? Is it a tribal party because its leader is a Ndebele? Only Prof Ncube treasure general Paul Temba Nyathi and Deputy secretary general Moses Mzila Ndlovu are Ndebeles. The Chairlady of Women assembly and her counterpart of youth assembly are also not Ndebele but Shona.

When asked by a French magazine if ever he will seek alliance with MDC led by Prof Ncube, Tsvangirai remarked that he would not work with a party, which have gone "regional". Recently in a public meeting Samuel Sipepa Nkomo also told people of Bulawayo that even if he is Ndebele himself he will not urge people to vote for Welshman Ncube because his party is a "regional" party.

Really what constitute a tribal or regional party or organisation? Is it when its leader is Ndebele, Zapu of Dumiso Dabengwa is also called a regional party but Egypt Zineminenzwa's "party" is not regional or tribal.

Is it also a coincidence that labour movement ZCTU's new leadership which has a Ndebele president and Secretary general is challenged?


In 2004 ZANU (PF) suspended its six provincial chairpersons for among other things advocating for rotation among provinces the leadership of the party.

During COPAC outreach programs , Bulawayo, Matabeleland North and South, Midlands, Masvingo, Manicaland the provinces whose ZANU (PF) Chairpersons were victims of Dinyane Declaration advocated for 13 provinces saying a certain ethnic group benefits from having One Mashonalnd province cut into 3, Mashonaland East, West and Central so Masvingo, Midlands and Manicaland must be cut by two as well. Those belonging to MDC were saying Zimbabwe needs 5 provinces only, Mashonaland, Midlands, Masvingo, Manicaland and Matabeleland. The reasons again being the unfair benefits by Shona/Zezuru ethnic group.

During colonialism and Apartheid black people were forced into a so called Bantu education and even at workplace blacks earned less than their white counterparts even if they were doing same jobs. Nowadays Ndebele ethnic people regardless of qualification and merit must be deputies of ethnic Shona people. Even in sports administration seems there is an unwritten rule that Ndebeles must be deputies. Is this tribal not imperialism?

As Zimbabweans we must shun tribalism at all cost but celebrate our diversity.

Edwin Ndlovu Can be contacted at: endlovu@cooltoad.com
Tel ; 0772 380 454


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Source - Edwin Ndlovu
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