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San suffer abuse in Tsholotsho


THE San community in Tsholotsho has accused men from the dominant Kalanga and Ndebele tribes of abusing their children and looking down upon them.


Community leaders made the accusations at a weekend meeting with National Healing, Integration and Reconciliation minister Moses Mzila Ndlovu organised by Habakkuk Trust, a non-governmental organisation.

One of the leaders, Christopher Dube, said they were treated like animals by their neighbours from the two tribes.

“If their children fall in love with our children and they get them pregnant, when we go to report what their children would have done, they ask if we have ever seen a cow mating with a donkey,” he told the minister.

“We are donkeys in this society minister, I would like to say that and I am not hiding it.

“The matter that pains us is the treatment we get from our brothers.

“Some come asking for land and we give them to build homesteads, but in a few days they change. They do not want to be directed, saying they can’t be ruled by the San, but when they came to ask for land they approached the San. What do we do as a people.”

Dube said there was a danger the situation could degenerate into conflict if the government does not intervene urgently.
“One day, don’t be shocked when we give you back your identity cards (IDs) or when we get axes and axe each other to show that this place also belongs to us,” he said.

“However, we have realised that fighting does not help.”

He said the ill-treatment would force the community to go back to the game reserves where they led lives of hunter-gatherers.

“We will return your IDs and go back to the game reserves, we do not want IDs because we will be at our habitat,” he said.

“If you say we will be eaten by lions, let it be and the few that will remain will see what to do because our bothers are giving us problems.”

He said the San community was also left out of the government’s food distribution programmes although they were being used by their Kalanga and Ndebele neighbours to till the land.

He urged the government to ensure they were empowered to look after their own affairs. Dube said the community had been pushed off their land in Tsholotsho by the colonial regime and deserved to be properly resettled.

In response, Ndlovu said the devolution of power in the new constitution was the only answer to problems facing marginalised communities.

“The issue here is about representation,” he said.

“Devolution will ensure that you are represented and you have the power to control your areas.

“The same way people say some are donkeys are the same reasons people will not vote the San community so we want government to come up with a law that will ensure locals are elected into seats so that you are represented.”

Zimbabwe is home to over 1 000 San, most of whom live in abject poverty. Although the group has abandoned its hunter-gatherer lifestyle, most of them don’t have enough land or resources to sustain themselves.

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