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Opposition members condemn Ndlovu cockroach remarks

by Staff reporter
03 Jul 2023 at 16:09hrs | Views
Human rights activists and opposition members have condemned Zanu-PF Matebeleland South chairman Nqobizitha Mangaliso Ndlovu, for referring to the opposition as ‘cockroaches', saying he does not deserve to hold public office because hate speech undermines democratic processes, especially as the country prepares for elections next month.

During a rally at Nyele Primary in Bulilima District, Ndlovu mocked the opposition Citizens Coalition for Change (CCC) party and compared them to cockroaches.

Human rights defenders have expressed concern that such sentiments weaken democratic processes and are unacceptable in a free society, particularly as the country prepares for elections on August 23, 2023.

"Hate speech should be avoided at all costs. Leaders must learn to make their points without relying on insults which only help to deepen political divisions and heighten opportunities for political violence," said Effie Ncube.

Ncube said the reference to people as cockroaches particularly in Matebeleland raises a reminder of the Gukurahundi genocide.

"We must guard against all that. As a victim himself, Ndlovu should be aware of the injury. The wounds are deep and require healing and not insensitive speech. Hate speech also contributes to a climate of fear and retribution which undermine the possibility of free and fair elections," he said, emphasising that Zanu-PF officials must avoid such hateful references.

Mbuso Fuzwayo, Secretary General of Ibhetshu LikaZulu, a  pressure group, said "Such rhetoric was not expected from a youthful government minister because the word cockroaches led to the death of over 20 000 in Matebeleland."

"He doesn't deserve to hold a public office," Fuzwayo said.

Ndlovu is the Minister of Environment, Climate, Tourism, and Hospitality Industry.

Fuzwayo's remarks refer to President Emmerson Mnangagwa, who in 1984, as Minister of State Security under the late Robert Mugabe, compared the people of Matebeleland and the Midlands to cockroaches that needed to be treated with a pesticide called DDT.

After Mnangagwa's utterances, the following day, the North Korean-trained Fifth Brigade soldiers murdered 55 civilians at Siwale in Lupane. Swithern Chirowodza, Provincial Spokesperson for the CCC in Bulawayo, remarked that while it was disturbing for Ndlovu to clone President Mnangagwa's "cockroach" hate speech, he could have been suggesting the likelihood of future bloodshed if the opposition party won.

"PF ZAPU members, supporters and AmaNdebele were massacred by the Fifth Brigade mainly in the Matebeleland and Midlands provinces. What Mangaliso has been coy to state is how violent Zanu-PF is going to ‘eradicate' the so-called cockroaches. We however draw lessons from the aftermath of Rwanda's 1994 Tutsi genocide sparked by Radio RTLM which called certain citizens ‘cockroaches'," he said.

Chirowodza believes that hate speech should be punishable by law.

"It cannot be business as usual. Mangaliso must be prosecuted lest others from his party inflame our politics in a manner that could lead to genocide of CCC members," he said.

Mthwakazi Republic Party (MRP) leader, Mqondisi Moyo, concurred Ndlovu's utterances were an insult to people in Matebeleland, confirming that he was receiving mentorship from Mnangangwa.

"We are afraid that Mangaliso Ndlovu is signalling another coming Gukurahundi Genocide but we warn him to be careful, he must not play with our emotions. Mangaliso Ndlovu is a conduit of the Shona 1979 Grand Plan and its 14-page Review Document by Zanu-PF. Mangaliso is singing for his supper yet he and his boss should revive the economy," he said.

Moyo said Ndlovu must have been bitter when he stated such, knowing that Matebeleland no longer supports Zanu-PF.

"It was proven by over a hundred buses and trucks that were seen on social media transporting people as far as from Mashonaland to a rally in Bulilima where Mangaliso hails from. His sentiments are a security threat," said the MRP leader.

Instead of resorting to hate speech, Ndlovu, according to the MRP leader, should be discussing strategies to revitalize Zimbabwe's tourism economy.

"We seek no apology from him and the decision for him to step down lies with him," Moyo said, noting that Zanu-PF officials were used to making such hateful words.

"Remember on September 5, 2019, Energy Mutodi said Ndebele are foreigners, we took that as a Zanu-PF position and I believe Mangaliso Ndlovu is saying a Zanu-PF position."

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