THE reckless tribal statement by Information deputy minister Energy Mutodi that Ndebele people were foreigners in Zimbabwe during a recent live radio broadcast should be condemned with the contempt it deserves.
In fact, he should have been officially censured for making such irresponsible remarks that are unbecoming for a government official.
Ironically, the remarks come at a time when the scourge of xenophobia has reared its ugly head again in South Africa, where millions of Zimbabweans are resident, and only help to inflame tribal conflicts when everything should be done to unite all the tribes that make up this great nation.
Equally strange was that his boss in the ministry, Monica Mutsvangwa, was not aware of what had transpired after she was grilled over the irresponsible statement in Parliament.
This points to some form of a disjointed modus operandi in the ministry, where the right hand doesn’t know what the left has done.
Nevertheless, a censure would not be enough under such circumstances because it has to be demonstrated that irresponsible and vile tribal remarks will not be tolerated in this country, especially in view of the Unity Accord signed in 1987 after the Gukurahundi killings of the early and mid-1980s.
It beats the mind to think of how the Ndebele people would be said to be foreigners and refugees in a country they call home.
Such public pronouncements by a top bureaucrat such as Mutodi, we are afraid to say, can be easily interpreted as government policy, which is why there is need for his superiors to publicly reprimand him.
After all, Mutodi has proved to be no stranger to controversy. Continuing to have such a person as government spokesperson is really unhelpful to the President Emmerson Mnangagwa government.
We urge Mnangagwa to conduct the necessary investigations and ensure that appropriate action is taken as a matter of urgency.
While a public apology from Mutodi will be in order, it should go beyond just an apology given the gravity of this very sensitive matter.
Zimbabwe is, indeed, a unitary State in which people drawn from different tribes, including the Ndebeles, fought side by side for this country’s liberation from colonial bondage. For Mutodi to turn around and label them foreigners is grossly irresponsible, to say the least.