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When facts get in the way of denialism


Responses to last week’s piece titled “Marginalisation is real, Nkomo”, were many, varied and robust.

As one who always strives to be open-minded, I also stand to be corrected on some of the issues I raised.

“When facts change, I change.” For instance, it’s not necessarily the current situation that the majority of Zimbabwean refugees in South Africa are from Matabeleland because there was a massive flood of illegal immigrants from all over Zimbabwe caused by the economic meltdown which peaked in 2008.

Thanks, readers, for pointing out this and other issues. Life is not merely about taking sides.

But what’s sad to note is that quite a number of people are still in denial about Gukurahundi and how the impunity and immunity from that period deepened marginalisation to spread across the country.

Besides, there are other tragic, sad realities people in Matabeleland live with every day, for instance, possibly unwanted children (who are now adults) born from rape by the occupying forces. This was indeed a horrific chapter in the nation’s history.

Wrote one angry man in response last Friday: “If John Nkomo has been quoted correctly, then I agree with you those were offensive statements to characterise the entire inhabitants of a region the way he did.

By the same token I find it disappointing that you are a journalist peddling inferences and allegations as if they were facts.

You even bring up a future ‘Chiadzwa’ in Matabeleland. In simple, you are postulating that any Shonas finding jobs in such a place will be marginalising locals! . . . People like you believe that Shonas living and working in Matabeleland do so as fruits of marginalisation.

And yet you believe Ndebeles working in Harare do so because of merit. You are repeating lies about imaginary marginalisation of Matabeleland.

Typically a lot of Ndebeles believe these conspicary theories that Shonas are after discriminating against Ndebeles.

Here is my diagnosis: you suffer from a victim mentality.

You believe every allegation against Shonas because it feeds into your victim mentality. The painful truth you have to live with is that Zimbabwe has an 82% Shona majority and a 14% Ndebele minority population, (and this) should explain the dominance of Shonas, pure and simple.”

I am sorry to say this writer missed altogether the point I raised, which is that marginalisation has spread nationwide with the majority of the people, including Shonas, now out of the political and economic mainstream; that marginalisation is not only confined to Matabeleland; that it manifests in many forms and is not solely driven tribalism.

It’s a systemic phenomenon. That was my point in mentioning that Chiadzwa people had also been marginalised, for economic reasons; and the rest of the population had also been politically marginalised by having their rights taken away and their vote and voice disregarded.

My simple point was that people began to see marginalisation in a different, clearer, broader light from 2000 when a strong opposition emerged to almost topple the political establishment at the polls.

Nowhere did I suggest there should be cleansing of Shonas from Matabeleland and vice versa as the writer has wrongly deducted.

For his information, I don’t have a victim mentality, but in his presumption he concludes that I wrote from that stance, from a tribal stance. I was born and bred in Harare.

I was nowhere near Matabeleland when all these horrors were taking place, but the reality of Gukurahundi struck me hard from far-away Harare in 1985 when my principal at Tegwani (now Thekwane) High School, where I was a boarder, in Plumtree in the 1970s, Luke Kumalo, and his British-born wife Jean were reportedly summarily executed for disclosing the atrocities to human rights watchdog Amnesty International.

I clearly stated that “to all intents and purposes, the whole nation has been marginalised through having rights taken away (the “bad politics” another reader refers to) and “tenderpreunership (the “bad economics” he alludes to).

“Whereas traditional societies can be characterised by a high consistency of cultural traits and customs, modern societies are often a conglomeration of different, often competing, cultures and subcultures. In such a situation of diversity, a dominant culture is one that is able, through economic or political power, to impose its values . . . on a subordinate culture or cultures. This may be achieved through legal or political suppression . . .”

Thus, there is usually one “dominant” culture. This is determined by power and control of institutions such as the government, church and business.

This explains the marginalisation of the majority of the Anglicans by the State-backed minority led by the defrocked Nolbert Kunonga.

There is also the reported unfair allocation of tollgate revenue where Mashonaland Central, the home province of the Minister of Transport, has so far gobbled most of the funds despite the fact that most of the revenue has been raised elsewhere.

Yes, criticism is healthy and welcome, but some of this was made out of incapacity to let facts, including simple facts, get in the way of one’s political preferences.

Commented one George Bachinche in reference to the fatal assault of the Salisbury Municipality supervisor I mentioned last week:

“Tutani sounds like a fiction writer. Can he/she (sic) cite the source of his story of the death of the white foreman in Salisbury?”

Well, for that, Bachinche, you can go to The Rhodesia Herald archives of 1973 or thereabouts.

Did you have to witness the First World War to believe that such an event occurred?

People don’t need to be blinded by taking sides and coming to the defence of what they don’t know or don’t want to know because it rocks the foundations of their strongly-held beliefs in denialist style.

It’s the same Bachinches who cannot see parallels between Brigadier-General Douglas Nyikaramba’s avowed statements to subvert the people’s will and Rhodesian Army supremo General Peter Walls’ treasonous attempt to stage a military coup in February/March 1980 when a Zanu PF election victory was imminent.

This is not fiction, Bachinche.


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