|Biti fanning ethnicism|
|Wednesday, 08 August 2012 00:00|
Anyone who followed the unfolding of the morbid 1994 Rwandan genocide would certainly agree that playing the ethnic card in politics is not only reckless, but irresponsible and divisive. With this in mind, it is worrying that some senior politicians in this country are straying into ethnic politics. During a recent journalists’ briefing, MDC-T secretary-general Tendai Biti said President Robert Mugabe has imposed a “Zezuru hegemony” on Zimbabwe which was oppressing people of other ethnic groups.
It is disheartening that in this day and age, politicians of Biti’s standing, who had the privilege of attending school, could mischievously stoop to such levels of political misdirection.
The question is, by irresponsibly informing people of other ethnic origins that they are “oppressed” by the Zezurus, what did Biti expect to achieve? What kind of remedial action did he want them to take?
It is undeniable that in addition to whipping up emotions of hate towards the Zezuru, Biti could be setting up a stage for ethnical clashes in Zimbabwe.
Upon closer scrutiny, Biti’s ethnical dimension is found to coalesce with MDC-T’s innate inclination to capitalise on Zimbabwe’s ethnic fault lines.
At its inception, the party took advantage of the land insecurities of former white commercial farmers to catapult itself on the political stage.
MDC-T promised to safeguard the farmers’ minority control of the country’s prime land in face of rising disgruntlement among the displaced black majority.
By reaching out to the minority farmers of white ethnicity at their time, MDC-T got the financial support it needed to survive the vagaries of the political scene and subsequently endear itself to the beleaguered farmers’ kith and kin in the West.
As a result, a marriage of convenience was created between MDC-T and the West, which was consummated when the later picked the fights of the former by imposing sanctions on Zanu-PF in particular and the country in general.
Later in its political life, MDC-T widened its use of ethinicism by turning to Matabeleland region where it started to stoke ambers of unfortunate incidents associated with the Gukurahundi era.
For lack of better ideology, MDC-T started to unrestrainedly talk about the so-called “marginalisation” of the Matabeleland regions saying the people in these regions have been systematically sidelined and attacked by Zanu-PF because of their ethnic origins.
Now it has become a given that whenever MDC-T leaders address people in Matabeleland, they will tirelessly regurgitate the tired mantra of “marginalisation” and Gukurahundi so as to irresponsibly stoke the flames of ethnicity against Zanu-PF.
These ethnic efforts by MDC-T are largely responsible for the birth of divisive calls for devolution and secessionism in the country, which are currently hounding the constitution-making process.
True to its holistic ethnic appeal, MDC-T has recently turned to the Ndau people of Chipinge by trying to resuscitate debate on the hero status of the late Zanu Ndonga leader Ndabaningi Sithole.
With the intention to pit the Ndau against Zanu-PF, MDC-T decided to arrange a memorial service for the late Zanu Ndonga leader where it said it was celebrating his “national heroism”.
During the memorial, Tsvangirai expectedly assured the people of Chipinge that Sithole’s national hero status will be recognised if MDC-T gets into power.
The intention was to take advantage of the supposed disgruntlement of the Ndau people over the issue of Sithole’s hero status for political expediency.
What is clear therefore is that Biti’s ethnic efforts are but a tip of the iceberg of the MDC-T’s grand use of ethnicism to lure support of supposedly disgruntled people of various ethnicities.
However, what is surprising is that Biti is a member of an inclusive Government that brings together a medley of people from diverse ethnic origins.
Even before the wobbly government of national unity, President Mugabe had consistently formed governments that reflect the ethnic composition of the country.
Biti’s leader, Morgan Tsvangirai, is not a Zezuru yet he sits at the apex of Government as the Prime Minister of Zimbabwe.
Similarly, the party’s national chairman, Lovemore Moyo, who is also the Speaker of Parliament, comes from an ethnic background divorced from the Zezuru but he occupies an influential position in Government.
It is common knowledge that one of the vice presidential posts in Zimbabwe is reserved for a person from Matabeleland to show that President Mugabe’s Government is not discriminative on ethnical lines but all inclusive.
The Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe Governor, Gideon Gono, hails from Manicaland.
Even the top brass in the security forces is filled with a balanced cocktail of officers hailing from all the country’s ethnic places.
What it means is that Government has always been run by people from all ethnic backgrounds and thus Biti’s allegation of a “Zezuru hegemony” is clearly unfounded.
Tendai Moyo is a researcher and social commentator.