Unresolved ethnicity conflict haunts Bulawayo

Unresolved ethnicity conflict haunts Bulawayo
Published: 19 September 2018 (295 Views)
For the past few weeks, the second largest city has been on the spotlight with the mayoral election taking centre stage.

Residents gained interest in the election process as they argued that they did not want to be led by someone who is not of Ndebele origin. So bold were their statements that they demonstrated at the town house.

However, the tribal slurs were hard to ignore during their protests. The weeks of bickering and mayhem only came to an end after 35-year-old Solomon Mguni was finally elected Bulawayo mayor.

While this was one separate incident, there have been a number of episodes where locals have directly demonstrated against local companies for employing people from other provinces ahead of locals, with Bulawayo branches of several big companies being caught in the web.

While this has continued unabated, analysts canvassed by Southern News this week located the ethnicity conflict on the unresolved past with Gukurahundi atrocities largely coming to the fore.

Cont Mhlanga said the current situation, particularly in the southern part of the country, was due a series of unresolved political conflicts dating back to the colonial era.

"The problems we are facing now stem right from the First Chimurenga, the Gukurahundi atrocities, the land issue, the 2008 violence and our major problem has been trying to bury all these skeletons and we think they are going to take care of themselves," Mhlanga said.

"We are now in a Second Republic and the language is still about burying the past and things that happened in the First Republic," he said.

The veteran arts administrator denied that there was any tribalism in the country.

"There is no tribalism in Zimbabwe but there is postponed generational political conflict. What we have is a generation trying to solve the problems created by others in the past.

Unfortunately, they won't be able to but further complicate it and pass on to their grandchildren," he said.

Mhlanga added: "Have you ever heard of anyone who was killed on tribal grounds? No one, but we are in a society that does not want to be open politically.

"All they are doing is let's postpone it to the next generation and these are the people who are now expressing issues that could have been discussed in history."

Another analyst, Englestone Sibanda, said tribalism and poverty have been intertwined to the extent that the definition of tribe is now based on factors such as nepotism, corruption and unfair advantage over others as well as the mindset and attitudes of dominance, hegemony and subjugation.

"The impact of Gukurahundi and the subsistence structural violence manifesting through marginalisation, tribal domination, utter disregard and disrespect of other tribes, centred upon a warped governance system that was created by former president Robert Mugabe," Sibanda said.

Just like Mhlanga, Sibanda also traced the ethnicity issue to the pre-independence era.

"Problems began in 1963 at the split of Zapu and framed the ideology and political consciousness of Zanu that led to Gukurahundi," he said, adding that it was unfortunate the ethnic differences were surely becoming entrenched, embedded and transmitted to the next generation.

Analyst Gifford Sibanda blames the unresolved Gukurahundi issue, arguing that the failure to address it has left a divided nation.

"Benjamin Burombo mobilised as a trade unionist in Bulawayo there was no issue. Josiah Chinamano was a Zapu MP here and there was no problem. The cold tribal remains were planted by the Gukurahundists through Gukurahundi. All this noise we see today is a symptom of the failure to address the reconciliation question," Sibanda said.

- dailynews

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