PRESIDENT Robert Mugabe’s disparaging statements against Kalangas and people of Matabeleland South have torched a tribal storm with the main opposition MDC-T describing them as inflammatory.
BY MOSES MATENGA
Mugabe on Wednesday said Kalangas were uneducated and were behind petty crimes in South Africa.
He was responding to questions after the special Sadc summit in Harare on recent xenophobic attacks in South Africa that left one Zimbabwean dead and displaced thousands others.
MDC-T spokesperson Obert Gutu said Mugabe’s “tribal vitriol” was misguided and inflammatory.
“The MDC notes with disgust, the highly-misguided, tribal and inflammatory utterances by Robert Mugabe at the Sadc summit singling out Kalangas and others from Matabeleland South as uneducated and not qualified for jobs in South Africa,” Gutu said in a statement.
“That Mugabe, who is also the Sadc chairman, would seek to attribute xenophobic disturbances in South Africa to a group of victims of his misrule is most unfortunate and highly misplaced. What is most shocking is the recklessness and tribal undertones laced in the ill-conceived utterances.”
MDC Renewal Team spokesperson Jacob Mafume said Mugabe was the most to blame as he had run down the country and exposed locals to a “life made in hell”.
“This infantile fascination with tribes and stereotypes is so yesteryear and must surely die with the sure demise of this regime and its group of tribal entrepreneurs,” Mafume said.
The Welshman Ncube-led MDC also said Mugabe’s direct attack on Kalangas was “nauseatingly tribalistic, divisive and extremely hurtful”.
“From the estimated 3,5 million Zimbabweans living in South Africa as a result of his government’s failures, it is a shame that he chooses to single out Kalangas as being responsible for crime when he does not have proof to back it up,” the MDC said.
“To have a whole President of a country spew such bigotry against a particular tribe is unfortunate, to say the least.”
The MDC said Mugabe should treat all Zimbabweans with respect despite ethnic differences that may exist.
“He further does not need to be reminded that this nation-state is made up of diverse ethnic, linguistic, religious, regional and cultural groupings,” the party added.
“All Zimbabweans, including Kalangas, pay taxes where he personally draws a salary and allowance and a very heavy medical care and unprofitable travel bill. In a normal democracy, the tribalistic statements he uttered yesterday (Wednesday) and in the past would have led to censure and recall.”
Mugabe was also blamed for the mass exodus of Zimbabweans to neighbouring countries.
The number of Zimbabweans in South Africa who fled the economic collapse is not known, but some estimates put it at over 3 million.
“Mugabe must be reminded that he and his party are the prime culprits in the mass exodus of Zimbabweans from the southern parts of this country a result of a genocidal wave (Gukurahundi) which he says was a ‘moment of madness’ and has the liberty of scornfully laughing at the survivors and victims of that political misadventure,” the MDC said.
The party said some of the immigrants had fled the 1980s Gukurahundi atrocities in Matabeleland and Midlands.
“As we speak, there are thousands of children of bona fide citizens massacred by the regime, who are not documented in Zimbabwe as a result of that ‘moment of madness’,” the party added.
“Some of the people who are in South Africa left this country as a result of the same moment of madness and find themselves between a rock and a hard place.”
Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions secretary-general Japhet Moyo blamed Sadc leaders for failing to “interrogate the exact challenges causing xenophobic attacks on migrant workers”.
Analyst Takura Zhangazha said it was improper for Mugabe to blame Zimbabweans for seeking greener pastures in foreign countries.
“The President should do a little bit more introspection as to the inadequacies of the Zimbabwean political economy and demonstrate further that he is working towards resolving them in the interests of the majority poor who keep flocking to South Africa,” he said.