Mugabe’s hate speech unhelpful


President Robert Mugabe is prone to serious gaffes, but this week he went too far with his statements insinuating that Zimbabweans were to blame for the deadly xenophobic violence in South Africa.

Mugabe went further to claim that Kalangas, mainly from Matabeleland South, were notorious for petty crimes in the neighbouring country, a statement that tallies with the stance of bigots who tried to justify the barbaric attacks against foreigners.

The president said Kalangas were not educated hence their propensity to skip borders to neighbouring countries. In the run-up to the 2013 elections, Mugabe made similar disparaging statements at a rally in Matabeleland South where he mocked Zimbabweans based in South Africa whom he said toiled in South Africa only to return home with bicycles.

He made it a point to single out men from Matabeleland South for ridicule. Mugabe also once labelled people of Mbare in Harare totemless after they rejected him in elections. During his visit to South Africa, the 91-year-old leader embarrassed his hosts when he was caught on camera declaring: “I don’t want to see a white man.”

At the height of the Gukurahundi massacres in Midlands and Matabeleland, Mugabe said Zapu and the late Vice-President Joshua Nkomo were like a cobra in a house. He said the only way to get rid of the snake was to strike its head and destroy it. The statements were followed by a genocide that left over 20 000 civilians perceived to be Zapu supporters dead. Mugabe has uttered similar bigoted statements targeted at the white population and supporters of the MDC in its various formations.

These groups have suffered untold violence in the hands of Mugabe’s supporters and there is no doubt as to who promotes such intolerance. Mugabe’s latest statements directed at the Kalanga community were tribalistic and unhelpful for a country that is still struggling to find the right formula for national reconciliation.

The group of people he lampooned in front of television cameras suffered the brunt of the Gukurahundi massacres. Some of them did not go far with their education as they could not obtain national identity documents because their parents died during the mayhem.

Others were born after their mothers were raped by the merciless soldiers. Matabeleland South has some of the least developed schools that regularly post zero pass rates in national examinations.

The schools are ill-equipped and have no qualified teaches, yet the head of State finds it a laughing matter that most people from that region do not have enough education for them to get decent jobs.

Apparently, Mugabe does not get the point that he is responsible for the mass migration of Zimbabweans to neighbouring countries where they have to endure abuse at the hands of their hosts.

Botswana was in the news this week complaining about the influx of “cheap” labour from Zimbabwe and has even gone further to regulate against the employment of the immigrants in the agriculture sector.

Zimbabwe’s neighbours are affected by the influx of people who overstretch their social security system and cause tension in communities. Mugabe was trying to find a scapegoat by singling out the Kalangas. The president should learn to take responsibility for the shortcomings of his rule for him to be able to steer the country out of the multifaceted crisis that has dragged on for far too long.

South Africa has already started clamping down on illegal immigrants after the criticism from African governments over its handling of the xenophobic attacks.

Zimbabwe should expect a surge in deportations of its nationals and should be putting systems in place to handle them and ensure they don’t risk their lives again crossing crocodile-infested rivers to seek a better life in foreign lands. Mugabe should watch his tongue and stop being the divisive leader that he is.


  1. Our fossiled dictator triggered xenophobia in 2008 when his state sponsored short/long sleeve reign of terror coupled by Mbekis ‘no crisis’ comments triggered mass exodus of Zimbos to Mzansi.
    Refugee crisis will never end as long as he is in power.

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