Tanonoka Joseph Whande
June 14, 2012.
Historically, Zimbabwe, as a nation, suffered at the hands of its own tribes, colonialists and from some individuals who rule it.
It appears as if elections that brought so-called independence to Zimbabwe actually did more harm than good if we look at the outcome.
The two principal parties, PF-ZAPU and ZANU-PF, emerged with the majority of the parliamentary seats and, clearly, people had voted more along tribal lines than out of genuine political preferences.
The fact that PF-ZAPU won the majority of seats in Matabeleland while ZANU-PF did the same in the Shona-speaking provinces was a subtle but clear indication of where a bad seed had fallen.
Within a short time, the two parties started quarrelling. Instead of listening to the concerns of their partner, Robert Mugabe and his ZANU-PF reacted by unleashing the worst treatment of Zimbabweans ever known in our history.
In provinces, we started to notice the slanted way in which developments were being initiated.
Thus, instead showing that ZANU-PF was a unifier even though the results of the parliamentary elections showed a clear tribal line being drawn across the country, it made matters worse and clumped down on Matabeleland.
Yes, there are a few other provinces that were neglected too but Matabeleland suffered the most, especially when we look at the diabolical waste of human lives as paranoid ZANU-PF leaders worried more about losing grip.
We massacred our own citizens who had genuine grievances they wanted addressed by their government.
We continue to kill our own Zimbabweans because they hold different opinions from those of ZANU-PF.
Robert Mugabe destroyed our nation. He has soured relations among tribes, ostensibly believing ‘divide and rule’.
Other historical factors not withstanding, Mugabe succeeded in driving a wedge between tribes and this is an issue that needs urgent attention.
This government agreed to set up a whole ministry, with no less than three cabinet level ministers, to handle the issue of National Healing and Reconciliation.
Article Seven of the Provisions for the Organ on National Healing in the GPA concerns the “PROMOTION OF EQUALITY, NATIONAL HEALING, COHESION AND UNITY”.
The Parties in the Unity Government agreed to ensure equal treatment of all regardless of gender, race, ethnicity, place of origin and work towards equal access to development for all (and) would ensure equal and fair development of all regions of the country and, in particular, to correct historical imbalances in the development of regions.
It also promised to “give consideration to the setting up of a mechanism to properly advise on what measures might be necessary and practicable to achieve national healing, cohesion and unity in respect of victims of pre and post independence political conflicts”.
They said that they would “strive to create an environment of tolerance and respect among Zimbabweans and that all citizens are treated with dignity and decency irrespective of age, gender, race, ethnicity, place of origin or political affiliation”.
Outside the Ministry of Finance, this, to me, was the most important ministry in this government.
These leaders recognised that people had not been treated equally.
They admitted that there had not been equal and fair development of all regions of the country and they were aware of the need to correct historical imbalances.
Most importantly, however, was reference to the setting up of a mechanism “to properly advise on what measures might be necessary and practicable to achieve national healing, cohesion and unity in respect of victims of pre and post independence political conflicts”.
But the ministry in question turned out to be one of the most useless of all ministries. In the three years of its existence, our nation has become more and more polarised on both political and tribal lines.
This was obviously instigated by the violence dished out by ZANU-PF during the 2008 elections in which 200 compatriots were murdered by ZANU-PF thugs.
My question is, if Mugabe and his ZANU-PF accepted that victims of pre and post independence political conflicts need to be assuaged, why did they not set up such an organ immediately after the Gukurahundi Massacres, which to this day remain the worst contributor of bad relations among our tribes?
Now some people are proposing the setting up of little countries within Zimbabwe, “each with a budget and local parliament of its own”.
They are calling them five “regional governments, each with their own prime minister, cabinet ministers and a parliament”.
There is even a secessionist party.
Said Paul Siwela its Secretary General: “We are a separatist movement. Our aim is to separate Mthwakazi State from Zimbabwe State through peaceful means.”
All they are saying is that they want to parcel out Zimbabwe into tiny little countries based on tribes, not nationality. They want to create Bantustans in Zimbabwe.
I personally do not buy this nonsense.
We are in this together and it is our responsibility to get rid of Robert Mugabe and reclaim our country intact, not to break up the country into tiny tribal groups and call them nations.
While Mr Siwela and his followers may justifiably feel that their area was hardest hit by Mugabe’s demonic actions, it is not fair to the nation of Zimbabwe, to the people of Zimbabwe to be accused of being tribalists because of the actions of one mad man.
To that extent, therefore, separatist or secessionist or whatever, is not the solution to our problems.
And what will the Mthwakazi people do if, say, Mr Siwela ascends to the presidency and starts behaving like Mugabe or the typical African president?
No, no. We don’t do that. We don’t destroy our nation to solve a problem. That is the route for cowards. When a tooth aches, we remove it; we do not cut off the head of the sufferer. If there is a snake in the house, we seek it out and kill it not burn the house down.
While good intentions might be lurking behind it, the issue of devolution must be treated very carefully because there is no denying that it is considered a necessity based on nothing more than tribal, not national considerations.
It must be handled in such manner that does not open doors for mischievous people to set tribe against tribe. Devolution must not lead to the partitioning of Zimbabwe.
But why parcel out Zimbabwe to tribes? What kind of solution is this? Zimbabwe is one country and shall remain so.
Here we are, more than 30 years later, and we wobble around like newly born fawns but instead of appreciating our country, instead of appreciating that, for the first time, we have cornered the man who destroyed our nation, we start clamouring for the sub-division of our nation before we can even nurse it back to health.
Further to that, if we should go that route of emphasising Mashonaland, Matabeleland, Manicaland, etc, we dare not leave the other tribes out because there are smaller tribes within those regionally dominant tribes. They also deserve as much as the so-called big tribes.
Zimbabwe is one country and it should remain so. The acrimony and quarrelling among successive politicians and the abuse of citizens should not be used to break up our country.
The solution does not lie in dismantling the nation but in getting rid of these destructive leaders and correcting those imbalances.
The heart of the matter is that, given the small size of our country, we have arrived at devolution as an admission that we have failed to rule ourselves.
Devolution is evidence of ZANU-PF, particularly Robert Mugabe’s failure in both governance and leadership. And the nation is paying for it.
But we must be careful that the nation and country of Zimbabwe is not sacrificed to appease egoistical politicians who are playing the tribal card to remain in the public eye.
Zimbabwe belongs to the people and must remain one, not to be divided into little Bantustans that only help to polarize the citizens.
This idea is nothing but ego trips for leaders who fail to correct the wrongs of the past and who now seek comfort in dividing our country along tribal lines for their own selfish purposes.
Our political leaders must find better solutions.
Just because Mugabe and his party failed to rule Zimbabwe does not mean Zimbabwe has to be destroyed to survive.
Zimbabwe belongs to all and no tribe has a bigger claim to it than any other.
Devolution is not progressive, at least not at this stage and for the reasons being advanced. It is an admission of failure of the entire nation to rule itself and live together peacefully.
I am Tanonoka Joseph Whande and that, my fellow Zimbabweans, is the way it is today, Thursday, June 14, 2012.
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