HARARE – Deputy information minister Energy Mutodi received a backlash on Tuesday after appearing to suggest that Ndebeles were refugees in Zimbabwe.
The gaffe-prone minister was calling on South Africans to show tolerance on foreigners when he gave the example of Zimbabwe, which he said had “accommodated” Ndebele people fleeing from King Shaka.
“For South Africa, you will find that here in Zimbabwe, if you didn’t know, just about 1836 we accommodated thousands of South Africans who came into Zimbabwe fleeing from (King) Shaka, and they were being led by Mzilikazi,” Mutodi said in a pre-recorded video posted on Twitter.
“They settled on the western parts of the country, in Matabeleland. As I am speaking right now, at least three million Zimbabweans have South African origin.”
Human rights lawyer and former lawmaker David Coltart said Mutodi was questioning the birthright of the Ndebele people.
Coltart said on Twitter: “This is a remarkable statement which Zanu PF needs to clarify. Does Zanu PF accept a Constitutional birth right or not?”
Journalist Hopewell Chin’ono accused Mutodi of “historical revisionism”.
“Please Mutodi, stop this historical revisionism. Ndebeles are not South African, they are Zimbabwean. My great-grandfather came from modern day Mozambique, I am not Mozambican, I am Zimbabwean! We should push back against divisive drivel! Address xenophobia. Don’t inflame it,” Chin’ono blasted.
No need for xenophobia. Zimbabwe & South Africa are one country. We trade at least $2bn with South Africa annually & if we withheld the business SA would feel the pain.1052:49 PM – Sep 3, 2019Twitter Ads info and privacy376 people are talking about this
Chief Nhlanhlayamangwe Felix Ndiweni, who responded to Mutodi, described his comments as “absolute hogwash”.
“I did not respond to his attack on my person (in previous tweets) but this is very irresponsible. How can this man be a government mouthpiece?,” the Ntabazinduna chief said on Twitter.
The current boundaries of African countries did not exist at the time the Ndebele people settled in Matabeleland, said journalist and filmmaker Zenzele Ndebele.
“Dear @energymutodi, the Berlin Conference was held in 1885. So I hope that short history lesson will help you,” Ndebele tweeted.
In 1885, European leaders met at the infamous Berlin Conference to divide Africa and arbitrarily draw up borders that exist to this day.
Representatives of 13 European states, the United States of America and the Ottoman Empire converged on Berlin at the invitation of German Chancellor Otto von Bismarck to divide up Africa among themselves “in accordance with international law.” Africans were not invited to the meeting.
With the exception of Ethiopia and Liberia, all the states that make up present day Africa were parcelled out among the colonial powers within a few years after the meeting. Lines of longitude and latitude, rivers and mountain ranges were used as borders separating the colonies.
Prominent lawyer Fadzayi Mahere called Mutodi’s views “disgusting” and urged President Emmerson Mnangagwa to censure him.
“What’s even more troubling is that nobody in government is censuring him. They agree with his views but use him as a court jester to communicate their position. Sad,” Mahere tweeted.-zimlive