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Political power, leadership and language in Zimbabwe

14 Jul 2020 at 07:56hrs | Views
Besides being a tool for communication, language has many other functions in all societies. However in countries where there are several or many languages, such languages are often ranked in order of 'importance' for political reasons which erode the lower strata languages' rights to protection and preservation. In such scenarios political power derives mostly from a tribal base and it is invariably abused under the guise of holding it on behalf of incumbent's tribal group. The creatures of chaos in Zimbabwe are masters at this. The ideal national 'We' feeling is lost in the jungle of insatiable primitive tribal dominance instinct only found in canids on one hand and a justified resentment of cruel oppression by fellow black purveyors of hate on the other. Antisocial practices which tear down the social/moral fabric like corruption, economic sabotage, nepotism, gender discrimination, looting, human rights abuses, service delivery failure without punitive consequences, lawlessness, selective application of the law, etc, are irresistibly attracted to tribaslism conditions and they thrive ad infinitum. In Zimbabwe tribalism is celebrated as a huge achievement by Zanu where one's language either makes them feel a deep sense of belonging and entitlement or feel excluded, feel life is at perpetual risk of extermination, marginalised all round, hated on sight, segregated permanently, depending on which side of the tribal divide they fall. Patriotism for instance means loyalty to Shona hegemony.

Since language expresses culture, treating a language scornfully means treating that culture with scorn and disdain too and also since culture is ethnically/tribally owned/shared, treating a given culture disrespectfully means full blown oppression for the underdog.

 At independernce Zanu deliberately crafted a divide and rule language policy which both overtly and covertly elevates, promotes and develops the Shona language at the expense of the languages of Matland. They immediately replaced English with Shona as the medium of communication in both public and private institutions right across the regions while suppressing and confining the Matland languages to the fringes and imposing an unconstitutional virtual ban on them.

 The Zanu 1980 barbaric policy of cadre deployment saw emigrating whites especially in managerial positions replaced by Shona speakers in the whole country. Many were under-qualified. It was part of a wholesale destructive and discriminative agenda on Matland over and above the heart rending murders of unarmed, defenceless and innocent civilians, property destruction, maiming, use of rape as a political weapon, mass disappearances. Companies soon realised the benefits of having Shona managers and many relocated from Bulawayo to Harare in a Matland de-industrialisation plan. Once management positions were secured the strategy automatically cascaded to the lower grades eg office cleaners even in far flung corners of Matland. Classic examples of interference in opportunity distribution among others are NRZ, Home Affairs, Lower and Higher Education, Local Gvt, Delta.

Such is the brief but sad tale of toxic tribal relations poisoned by Zanu in Zimbabwe. There is no doubt that the relations have been damaged beyond repair. Efforts to dislodge Zanu from power must be viewed against the background of Zanus disastrous and despicable performance especially the use of Shona as a Tool of Oppression in Matland. Anyone associating themselves with this effort must prove to us that if they were to lead the country they would conduct themselves in fundamentally different ways from what the country has been subjected to by Zanu. Chamisa cannot afford this. When he addresses an e-rally in Shona throughout, without remorse nor contrition the message to us even before we examine the delusional contents of that address is that the status quo insofar as tribal relations are concerned will be maintained by a future MDC government. Yet contaminated tribal relations are at the core of the Matland peoples misery for the last forty years. The big uproar over this is an appropriate expression of horror and outrage at the prospect of another cycle of humiliation of the people of Matland. It therefore becomes imperative for Matland to realise that its struggle is bigger than just removing Zanu and avoid the dangerous snare of "Let's remove Zanu and then correct". Another man-made political earthquake needs to be prevented or else Matland gets buried permanently under the concrete slab of tribal inequalities. Chamisa is a progeny of Mugabe by all standards. His brazen insensitiveness to issues which annoy us reflects the same motivation for genocide Mugabe had. He simply cannot be trusted. Believing in him is putting Matland in peril.

Moses Mzila Ndlovu
JULY 13, 2020

Source - Moses Mzila Ndlovu
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