PRESIDENT Robert Mugabe’s recent labelling of Kalangas from Matabeleland South province as “uneducated thieves” who allegedly fuelled crime in neighbouring South Africa, has angered some local opposition parties into demanding the immediate exhumation of several national heroes with Kalanga ancestry lying at the National Heroes’ Acre and resignation of Cabinet ministers of the same tribe.
By SILAS NKALA/obey manayiti
The parties yesterday said Mugabe’s jibe on Kalangas was not only directed at Zimbabwean xenophobia victims, but national heroes such as the late Vice-President Joshua Nkomo, John Landa Nkomo, George Silundika and Jason Ziyaphapha Moyo, among others.
However, main opposition MDC-T secretary-general Douglas Mwonzora said while his party condemned Mugabe’s direct attack on Kalanga people, they were against the exhumation of national heroes’ remains, but that Mugabe should publicly apologise to the Kalangas.
In separate interviews, both the Welshman Ncube-led MDC and MDC Renewal Team challenged Zanu PF Cabinet ministers with a Kalanga background like Simon Khaya Moyo to pull out of government in protest. Khaya Moyo is Zanu PF national spokesperson and Economic Planning minister. Khaya Moyo is also from Matabeleland South.
Mugabe last week sparked outrage when he referred to Kalangas as “uneducated thieves”, who illegally trekked to South Africa to commit “petty crimes”. The 91-year-old Zanu PF leader made the remarks at a Press conference in Harare while responding to a question on attacks in South Africa targeting foreign nationals.
“The President’s remarks on the Kalangas is insulting people like Father Zimbabwe (Joshua Nkomo), who according to history was hunted down by Mugabe during the early 1980s until the Unity Accord was signed,” said MDC Matabeleland South provincial chairman Pilate Ndebele.
“Why is Mugabe keeping the remains of criminals in Harare? He must exhume the remains of Joshua Nkomo, JZ Moyo, George Silundika and all those heroes from Matabeleland as he regards them as criminals. He must remember that what made most people in Matabeleland to go to South Africa was his Gukurahundi.
“If you go to South Africa’s streets today you will find that out of approximately 40 Zimbabweans on the streets, 35 will be from Mashonaland and only five will be from Matabeleland,” Ndebele said.
“Mugabe has in his government people such as Khaya Moyo, who is a Kalanga, why does he keep thieves and uneducated people in his government? This shows that Mugabe only wants to use our people to get into power and disregard them later on.”
MDC-Renewal Team head of international relations Gorden Moyo said: “As MDC-Renewal Team, we are calling for the immediate resignation of all Cabinet ministers from Matabeleland in protest over Mugabe’s statements,” Moyo said.
“If they don’t (resign), the region will view them as traitors and accomplices in Mugabe’s reckless and inflammatory statement.”
Moyo said he supported the call for exhumation of Nkomo’s remains.
“I fully support such a drive to have Nkomo reburied where his uneducated, criminal relatives are. In fact, Mugabe humiliated those heroes by burying them in Harare. He was celebrating their humiliation,” he added.
Mwonzora said: “Our views as a party is that a person is a national hero not because of their tribe or place of origin, but because of their invaluable contribution to the liberation of Zimbabwe.”
“That cannot be taken away by an utterance by a clearly deluded old man. We condemn in the strongest terms the insult of the Kalanga by Mugabe.
“However, the Kalanga people must enjoy their share of Zimbabwe’s wealth and everyone should be united to defend their rights. Mugabe should issue a public apology to the Kalanga people,” he added.
On Saturday, several Bulawayo-based civil society organisations (CSOs) also condemned “Mugabe’s uncivil remarks” and called on him to publicly apologise for the gaffe.
“As members of the CSOs drawn from Matabeleland, we had a meeting at the Bulawayo Agenda to discuss Mugabe’s insults to the Kalangas,” said one of the members who asked to remain anonymous.
“We will be writing a statement to ask his Excellency to retract his reckless statement. We agreed that we must call for Mugabe to make a public apology about his remarks.”
Although Khaya Moyo could not be reached for comment, Zanu PF deputy spokesperson Psychology Maziwisa dismissed the MDC’s exhumations call as a move calculated to attract attention.
“That’s a laughable proposition from a laughable politician (in reference to MDC leader Ncube) who is evidently desperate for attention given his waning political career. He needs to shut up and focus more on issues that will get his dying political career back on track,” said Maziwisa.
Political analyst Charles Mangongera said: “I think there should be a strong voice in condemning that (utterance), but I don’t know if exhumation or walking out of government is the best method. The country really needs a strong voice to condemn such kind of bigotry by the President.
“It’s important to make a statement not by the Kalangas alone, but every Zimbabwean especially at this critical moment we are facing xenophobia in South Africa. That is very unfortunate,” added Mangongera.