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Zimbabwe’s minority ‘neglected’

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Opponents of liberal democracy and purveyors of ethnic hatred have of late accused hitherto unknown firebrand educationist Dominic Muntanga of attempting to nurture the mentality of rebellion.

He has reignited the long-held debate of politics of minority exclusion in Zimbabwe. Across the border, Jacob Zuma is quoted by the Mail&Guardian to have advised the traditional affairs department to process a National Traditional Affairs Bill providing for “the recognition of Khoisan communities, leaders and councils”.

Muntanga hails from what narrow socio-political minds term the “minority” tribe of Tonga people, nestled in the humid jungles of the Zambezi Valley in Northern Zimbabwe.

He recently publicly roasted President Robert Mugabe for presiding over the political demise of his late father and perpetuating the culture of neglect of the Tonga people. The debate of “minority groups” comes at the ideal time when we Zimbabweans are weighing options for a new constitutional order that promotes and protects the interests of previously “neglected ethnic, tribal and behavioural groups” (NETBGs).

Mugabe and Zanu PF have a long history of misconceptions about NETBGs, mainly founded on their suspicions of political competition by the late Joshua Nkomo’s PF Zapu party.

In my world, the best constitution is one that protects and promotes NETBGs, because whenever it does not, human conflict is inevitable. NETBGs have always something to offer. The United States has a President derived from one such group.

Zimbabwe’s leading workers, entrepreneurs and innovators are from NETBGs.

There are no official records, but at one time, farming and mining — the leading contributors to Zimbabwe’s GDP — were hosting the largest chunk of NETBG employees.

It is then the fear of socio-political domination that made Zanu PF annihilate organised commercial farming, rendering millions of workers and dependants homeless.

Engineering companies, mines and retails shops attract the attention of NETBGs. Here I mean Greeks, Jews, Indians, Mixed Race Africans and Europeans.

Of late, Zanu PF corporate occupation hitman Saviour Kasukuwere has trailed his guns of plunder towards them.

He claims some NETBGs are reluctant to “share” their wealth with “indigenous Zimbabweans”.
South Africa’s world-renowned liberal constitution recognises gays and lesbians as “official” NETBGs, much to the chagrin of conservative Zimbabweans.

These include Zanu PF and Christian fundamentalists who want to play God.
I am a progressive Christian who knows that politics and pulpits are patronised by alcoholics, adulterers, marital cheats, money launderers and gamblers.

That’s fine with me because the Jewish prophet and founder of the Christian faith invited “sinners” into his church (“Come unto me all ye that labour and are heavy laden” etc).

He also accepted his political role as the King of the Jews (who probably were oppressed by the Romans then).

What then this means — at least to me — selective application of constitutional recognition of NETBGs — especially by so-called Christians — is a travesty of (constitutional) justice.

The phobia against NETBGs in Zimbabwe has no historical justification. Khoisan, like our own “local” Bushmen, were hounded out of Zimbabwe by industrialisation.

Not all “whites and Indians” were part of the much-hated Pioneer Column that “took our land”. It is not all of us Ndebeles (Zulus, Vendas, Tongas, Suthus, Shanganis) who “raided Karangas and Zezurus to plunder their cattle and women” as portrayed by Zanu PF “historians” Aeneas Chigwedere and Vimbai Chivaura.

In fact, NETBGs have contributed to Zimbabwe’s immense socio-cultural diversity, if not political emancipation. Liberal Europeans like Garfield Todd — though part of the Rhodesian Empire — constantly promoted recognition of black political rights.

Africans of Mixed Race (unfairly referred to as “coloureds”, whatever that means since every human being has a skin colour) were critical components of Zanla and Zipra’s chains of military command.

And so South Africa’s progressive — actually liberal — recognition of NETBGs must be hailed as another giant step towards African constitutional revolution which Zimbabwe — particularly Zanu PF and MDC-T — should learn from.

I “smuggle” Morgan Tsvangirai’s political party here because he has of late been quoted as accusing Welshman Ncube of heading a regional (another euphemism for Ndebele) party.

Considering that Roy Bennett is the chief finance officer of MDC-T, that party’s attitude towards NETBGs must change before Tsvangirai presents his presidential credentials in 2012.

Rejoice Ngwenya is a social commentator

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