MDC-Alliance vice president Tendai Biti torched a social media storm yesterday after he implied in a post on micro-blogging platform Twitter that people from Chipinge dabble in witchcraft.
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Although he later deleted the post after a backlash from netizens who felt that his post was insensitive, Mr Biti did not apologise.
In a response to a tweet by Prof Lovemore Madhuku that he did not agree with, Mr Biti said: “Lovemore you are very wrong. The golden rule of statutory law is the ordinary natural meaning of words. Your contextual approach within the context of this debate is pure witchcraft. But then again you come from Chipinge.”
This prompted United Kingdom-based journalist Chofamba Sithole to flag Mr Biti on his stereotypical views of people hailing from Chipinge.
“Cde Biti you owe us an unreserved apology for bludgeoning us with this cruel stereotype in your legal debate with Prof Madhuku. It beggars belief that you could wilfully deploy such a gratuitous insult against an entire ethnic group barely a day after your Chilonga presser,” said Mr Sithole.
Reacting to Mr Biti’s post, the Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting Services Mr Nick Mangwana said people should not hang to mindless stereotypes.
“As Zimbabweans, we are very proud of our diversity. We accept each other without judging the next person through the prism of stereotypes. False tribal stereotypes reflect badly on our own upbringing and not our target,” said Mr Mangwana.
Another netizen said, “for a ‘renowned’ constitutional lawyer, Biti sounded so casual and reckless there”.
Gondai Mutongi wrote, “MDC Alliance people thrive on dividing our people along tribal and political lines. These divisive people have no place in Zimbabwe. Unity is important for the success of the country”.
Another Twitter blogger Remmie Musavengana said, “Biti is always in a ‘permanent’ state of anger. The reckless & irresponsible suggestions about witchcraft and Chipinge is uncalled for. A leader should know”.
A tweet attributed to Labour, Economists and African Democrats (LEAD) led by Ms Linda Masarira said Mr Biti needed to apologise for his senseless remarks.
“Lawyers are not mechanical, we can’t base on a linear approach to arguments, let’s differ without attacking one’s ethnicity. It’s unprofessional and unethical,” read the LEAD post.
Mutsa Murenje wrote, “I found reference to Chipinge quite offensive and I was determined to take it to the Zimbabwe Human Rights Commission and Twitter for settlement. Tribalism and prejudice have no place in our modern era”.
The insinuations by Mr Biti validates claims from analysts that the opposition party lacks astute leaders who are finding it difficult to transition from student politics to national politics. Mr Biti is known for using uncouth language even when addressing journalists.