(NB: this is the second posting in connection with "The Gukurahundi Massacres." Page down please to see the first posting.)
GUKURAHUNDI: Moving towards objective analysis
By Masiiwa Shwere. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
The topic of “Gukurahundi” is an eternal blot on the ‘conscience’ of the ruling Government of Zimbabwe, as many a commentator has pointed out. More important perhaps are the entailing disaffections between the Shona and Ndebele people resident in and outside Zimbabwe. There is a real danger that any discussion of the issue between members of these 2 dominant tribes of our country may not narrow the divide already between them or facilitate any reconciliation, but may only nurture the already unpleasant inter-tribal context and polarise the camps. For the victim group (Ndebele), one can appreciate how it becomes a matter of “being with us or against us”. People were killed in their thousands; those who survived the ordeal witnessed the killing or torture of their loved ones, or were themselves brutalised. I thus do not expect them to be detached armchair philosophers, ruminating over the issue disinterestedly, and objectively, about the pros and cons of the killings, and of the antecedent killings and disturbances by the “dissidents”. For the majority of the Shona People, it is, or should be easy to understand why they remain(ed) relatively dispassionate about the issue. The majority of the Shona were neither the victims, the perpetrators, nor did they ever actively endorse the killings and torture of the Ndebele people. Now, that seems to border on insensitivity already. Sometimes being dispassionate about things that others are very passionate about seems to suggest that those things are not worthy being passionate about. Suggesting that people need to be dispassionate, and objectively analyse something they already are quite passionate about seems to be an insult altogether. I am not Ndebele, which gives me the (dis)advantage of being dispassionate. At the same time, as far as I am consciously aware of my thoughts, I am not anti-Ndebele. That does not necessarily make me pro-Ndebele though, nor am I principally Shonacentric.
My only source for the present article is an article by the Catholic Commission for Justice and Peace in Zimbabwe [CCJPZ] (1999). I have decided to use this article as the basis of my analysis because it is the only major document that has been published to date by a relatively ‘neutral’ source. It is very important to stress that perhaps all writers on the Gukurahundi issue are biased in one way or the other. For the fervently anti-Zanu PF, it is quite a handy issue to use as totally undeniable evidence for its war against democracy, the people etc. Any good argument against the Government is invariably trashed by sweeping generalisations, or clearly wrong assumptions. It is very hard, on the other hand, to come across anyone explaining the position of the Government on this ‘hot potato’ then and now, as it is easily taken as justification for the attacks. Both approaches are unhelpful, from my point of view, and will only continue to nurture the sick environment of fear, resentment and hatred that already define our society with regards to this sad story. Turning to the CCJP article (1999), the outstanding, and important, corollaries, we can draw, and need to appreciate, from it and from history, are as follows:
v Although the liberation struggle was carried out jointly by Zapu (or Zipra) and Zanu (Zanla), there was no “honeymoon” between the 2 indigenous liberation camps. It was fits and starts until Ian Smith and the Rhodesian Front relented, with Zanla and Zipra (1) having competing allegiances to China and Russia respectively and thus different war ideologies; (2) being competing forces paradoxically fighting for the same popular support and goal of liberating “common” Zimbabwe; (3) thus, and unfortunately, clashing in actual military combat against each other, both before and especially, after independence, with potentially destabilising effects on the entire country. Therefore, albeit Zanla and Zipra were fighting a common “enemy”, they could easily become enemies themselves if and when the common enemy (the Rhodesians) disappeared from the scene.
v On attaining independence, only one of the two competing “liberation” forces would become the government if they remained independent, and competing. Zanu would become the Government if the “majority rule” followed. Zapu had chance of becoming the Government on certain conditions: (1) if Zipra was militarily more powerful than Zanla, as the Tutsi were in Rwanda, despite being numerically “inferior” (2) if somehow, Zapu had managed to garner enough support, both across Mashonaland, and Matebeleland, despite being primarily Ndebele in its recruitment and membership.
v Upon the surrender of the Rhodesians, it was not immediately obvious which liberation movement should adopt the leading role in matters of demobilisation, and leadership of the country. I think, with the knowledge of hindsight, that separate demobilisation and recruitment into the army, among other benefits, would have been the best alternative. However, as it stood then, and as it was to happen, demobilisation and recruitment into the new army was to be presided over by the new Zanu (PF) Government, with possibility that members of Zanu (PF) and Zanla were to gain certain special advantages over Zapu and Zipra members and affiliates. It was to follow, thus, and almost inevitably, that Zanu, and Zanla members were to draw some advantages, such as reputed posts within the new Army (a quite novel, and exciting thing by the standards of those days), while at least some (including the best of) Zipra guerrillas gained possibly much less than they had bargained for. The demobilised Zanla forces were therefore excited about the new opportunities in independent Zimbabwe, while the Zipra ones still sensed some injustice from the new emerging hegemony of Zanu PF. If they had defeated the Rhodesian Front, they certainly had not defeated the new emerging power of Zanu (PF) threatening their own status as a legitimate liberating movement within their own right.
v As the movements demobilised, and went into respective or combined camps, there was always a looming danger of hostilities. With perhaps some of the Zanla forces not (yet) ready to accept Zipra forces as legitimate partners in the just ended liberation war, and therefore unwilling to share the spoils with them on an equal footing, or some of the Zipra forces resentful about being part of an all-encompassing force with the dominant Zanla that would diminish their reverence and importance, it is not surprising that it is the Matebele assembly points like Ntabazinduna and Entumbane that brewed trouble, led to the death of well more than 300, and formed the basis of the post-independence wars. It was thus the Zipra guerrillas who became the most visible triggers of the said hostilities (since they were invariably in Matebeleland), attacked Zanla (now governmental) and non-Zanla interests (national interests, such as White Farmers) and attracted or were targeted by the New State as anti-progressive forces that had to be eliminated at all costs.
v It should also be noted that although the Matebeleland disturbances and killings were much wider and deeper in scale, Muzorewa’s people also had running battles with the euphoric Zanu (PF) supporters. More crucial, however, were the international threats posed by Apartheid South Africa that could overwhelm the newly-independent state that was run mostly by novices who had no experientially derived competence at dealing with such situations. Taken together, it is understandable how the new Government got into a panicky, “fight- or flight” state.
Total Inventory of the Damage and Threat to the State
1. Assembly Point Battles:
In 1980, there were sporadic outbursts of violence around guerrilla assembly points all over the whole country. The fights recurred in 1983, killing over 300 people.
2. Dissident Threats:
The Catholic Commission for Justice and Peace (CCJP) documented 298 killings by dissidence from 1980- 1987. The dissidents also reportedly raped 159 women, committed 962 recorded robberies, and abducted 20 over the same period. Included in the total of people killed were 6 foreign tourists and 33 White commercial farmers or their relatives. Thus, the attacks, although principally targeted against the Shona, were also meant to economically destabilise the country.
3. South African Bombing, Super Zapu and the fake CIO:
During the 1980s, South Africa developed a comprehensive policy of destabilising its Black-ruled neighbours. The aim was to prevent these countries from backing the ANC. During the late 1970's and 1980’s, there were numerous ground and/or air operations by the South African forces into Angola, Zambia, Zimbabwe, Botswana, Mozambique and Angola. South Africa successfully destabilized Mozambique and Angola, with the help of tribal and/or political divisions within those countries. Renamo and Unita became their fronts. Similar incursions were possible in Zimbabwe, through the employment of disgruntled Zapu ex-guerillas. They trained and supported a group of about a hundred dissidents, called Super Zapu, who operated in Matebeleland between 1983 and 1984. In addition, they bombed the Inkomo Barracks in 1981, destroying $50 million worth of ammunition and equipment (by the currency of those days). The following year, they sabotaged Zanu PF headquarters, killing 7 and injuring 124. In July 1982, they bombarded the Thornhill Air Base in Gweru, destroying 13 military aircraft.
4. Discovery of Arms caches:
In 1982, there was the “discovery” of arms caches in Matebeleland. According to the CCJP, South Africa had persuaded some CIO to become double agents, and were telling the Government that Zapu was trying to topple them. The CCJP adds, “some of the buried weapons that were uncovered in the 1980s, and used as evidence against Zapu were actually planted by such agents”.
5. Assassination Attempt on Prime Minister Mugabe’s life:
In 1982, there was an abortive attack on the residence of Mugabe’s residence. “A Zipra connection is established” (CCJP, 1999).
The total magnitude of the threat
To reiterate, the insurgency in Matebeleland led to 710 reported deaths over a period of about 7 years. The dissidents were directly responsible for about 300 of these (reported) deaths. The dissidents were also responsible for about 159 women rapes (reported), 962 robberies (reported) and 20 (reported) abductions. By just looking at these figures, the magnitude of the threat does not seem to be very high. With state resources at its disposal, the Government should have been able to avoid wanton bloodshed in pursuit of presumably a few hundred insurgents. However, add on to this the “discovery” of arms caches and the entailing false intelligence by members of the CIO; the bombings by South African forces and their link to Super Zapu; the ex-guerrillas’ battles in the assembly points and the defections, and you emerge with a much bigger threat. The events were not one off, sporadic attacks, but they recurred quite consistently over almost a decade. When taken together, it should be clear how the above events amalgamated, at least in Government perception, as a much bigger and incessant threat. In particular, the involvement of South Africa, with its all-powerful aircraft and the imagined or real association with dissident activities must have sent alarming signals to the Government, and made them particularly vulnerable, panicky and paranoid. After all, South Africa had already destabilised Mozambique and Angola, which served as “natural experiments” and predictors of what could happen to Zimbabwe if the conditions were right for South Africa. Appreciating the magnitude of the threat amounts to noticing, and appreciating, one of the major antecedents of the period of “Gukurahundi”; it does not necessarily justify what actually transpired, although it can potentially be used as justification, depending on one’s ideology and aims.
The Government raised the alarm to the highest level. A State of Emergency was renewed every 6 months until 1990. Whether there were specific Government attempts to target the civilians or not, the actions that specifically targeted civilians were the rule, rather than the exception. Mnangagwa, as the Minister of State Security, told a rally in 1983 that the Government would “burn down all the villages infested with dissidents”. It is more important to understand the Government’s reaction as enshrined in its policy however. It is equally important as well to appreciate what triggered the Government into action. It was the kidnapping of foreign tourists that caused the Government to invoke a law used by the Rhodesian Government in 1975, preventing the prosecution of anybody in the security forces no matter what they did, as long as it was to “preserve security” in Zimbabwe. After the murder of 33 White Commercial farmers or their relatives, the Government allowed commercial farmers to re-arm to protect themselves against the dissidents. More dramatic was the training of an extra-military wing, the 5th brigade, by the North Koreans, and their deployment in Matebeleland and the Midlands. If one connects Mnangagwa’s statement that “the Government would burn down all the villages infested with dissidents” with the Governmental Policy that gave immunity to individuals it deemed to be acting for the security interests of the country, one understands how and why thousands of civilians were killed or tortured by the 5th Brigade, the army and the CIO. It seems a basic assumption was held that if killing and putting civilians under duress helped to abate the conflict, sooner rather than later, then it was worthy doing.
The Political Context
At independence, in 1980, Zanu PF won 57 seats out of a 100 and Robert Mugabe assumed leadership of the nation. Twenty seats were reserved for Whites, according to the Lancaster House Constitution. Joshua Nkomo’s Zapu won 20 seats, and Muzorewa’s UANC got 3 seats. For the purposes of smooth transition to independence, there was a general amnesty granted under Lord Soames, the British High Commissioner at the time. The amnesty meant that there were not going to be trials for those who had committed war crimes on both sides of the conflict. Joshua Nkomo was offered the ceremonial post of president, but declined. Nkomo’s cherished ambition of becoming the first Black president of Zimbabwe was dashed by Mugabe’s win and Nkomo made no secret of his bitterness at the defeat (.BBC, Thursday, July 1, 1999 Published at 19:14 GMT 20:14 UK). Nkomo was then appointed home affairs minister, along with the incorporation of a few other Zapu cadres into the Government. Canaan Banana accepted the post of president, up to 1987, when Mugabe replaced him as the executive president. After the 1982 “discovery” of weapons supposedly linked to Zapu, Zipra Commanders were arrested, Nkomo was expelled from Government, was subsequently put under house arrest, and fled temporarily to London. In 1988, Prime Minister Mugabe announced an Amnesty for all dissidents. A general ordinance was issued proclaiming that all those who surrendered before 31 May would get a full pardon. One hundred and twenty two dissidents surrendered. In June, the amnesty was extended to include all the members of the security forces who had committed crimes against the people during the “Gukurahundi” period. This marked the end of the killings, but not necessarily of the tribal bitterness and disaffections.
Was government response commensurate to the threat?
I would say personally the Government over-reacted, and set the stage for one of the periods we all will ever live to regret. The killing of thousands of unarmed civilians by the so-called security forces was altogether unwarranted, and will always not only be a cause of tribal bitterness among the victims, but also inform and prop the cause of inter-tribal haters, notably from the victimised group. Ideally, the most commensurate attacks should have been targeted against the dissidents themselves, minus any casualties to the general public. The main problem we have now is that it is far much easier, convenient, and politically correct to make a tribal connection with the killings than with attempts to stem the dissidence. When one focuses on the reported number of dissidents, the over-reaction becomes very clear. When one directs attention at the actual offences committed by the dissidents, however small their number was, the gravity of the issue is clearer, however. To appreciate how the Government weighed the threat against their reaction, one needs to follow the events that immediately preceded Government action, including the deployment of the so-called 5th Brigade. The critical period is from 1980- 1983, although the disturbances and Government action themselves lasted up to 1987:
- 1980- Before and after independence, there are is violence around guerrilla assembly points all over the whole country.
- 1980 Nov: A battle between Zipra and Zanla forces at Entumbane.
- 1981 Feb: Second major outbreak of violence at Entumbane, Ntabazinduna, and Connemara.
- 1981 Aug: South African attacks at Inkomo, destroying the munitions dump.
- 1981 Dec: Zanu PF headquarters are attacked by South African agents.
- An attack on the residence of PM Mugabe.
- 1982 July: 6 foreign tourists kidnapped and killed. The Government revokes the law that prevents the prosecution of anyone working for the “preservation of security” of the country.
- 1982 July: The sabotage of Thornhill Airbase by South Africa.
- 1983 Jan: Government allows (mostly White) farmers to re-arm, after 6 farmers are killed by dissidents. Thirty three White farmers killed by the end of the year. White commercial farmers suffer more casualties than they did during the whole period of the armed struggle.
- 1983: The 5th Brigade is deployed in Matebeleland North.
The chronicle of events above informs us that the period between 1980 and 1983 was densely littered with disturbing events that naturally elicited a response from the Government. One incident followed the other with sheer rapidity that, without the knowledge of hindsight that we have now, threatened to throw the newly quasi-liberated nation into a state of total chaos. From the above chronicle, I guess it is not very far away from the truth to suppose that Zimbabwe then was in a state of war, although of low intensity. The Government did not only react by deploying the 5th Brigade. Their most extraordinary reaction was granting special immunity to anyone, no matter what they did, as long as they were deemed to be safeguarding the security of the country. Equally extraordinary is the fact that the law came into effect after the kidnapping of foreign tourists by the dissidents. Also out of the ordinary is that the Government allowed mostly White farmers, who had backed the Rhodesian Front during the liberation war, to re-arm. It is thus, important to acknowledge it was attacks on national economic interests (tourists and commercial farming) that necessitated some of the most extraordinary of measure, including granting immunity to would-be killers. It appears that the 5th Brigade itself was always going to be deployed, having been trained in 1980 subsequent to the first disturbances, and in anticipation of further disturbances. Whether or not the would-be 5th Brigade killers would be granted immunity, regardless of whether the dissidents targeted economic interests or not is not obvious, however. What is fairly obvious though is that the Bill encouraged the 5th Brigade, the CIO, and the army to harm people as they pleased. It gave any Shona person who had their own personal vendettas against the Ndebele people to let off the steam.
After assessing all the extraordinary reactions of the Government above, it gives us an idea of how they perceived the threat. To them, it was as big as it could be, and called for measures extraordinary enough to overwhelm it, regardless of the cost in human life. They certainly had the will to solve the problem using general means that would therefore affect the generality of the Ndebele population. The important question to address is whether they had the will and capacity to target the dissidents, without attacks on civilians. Between the two, the will is more of the function of the capacity than the other way round, i.e., having the will but not the capacity does nothing to practically solve the problem. If the Government had the capacity to deal specifically with dissidence, but lacked the will, then they should take all the blame for failing to contain the conflict. With the will made redundant by capacity, only an analysis of the latter is informative.
As common sense would tell us, collection of intelligence about the dissidents and their whereabouts was the main challenge. The CIO should normally fit this role, and use any legitimate methods at their disposal. In so far as we know the operation of intelligence organizations, however, there is usually a very fine line between what is called legitimate and illegitimate. Hunting for armed ex-guerillas who have reverted to guerilla-style attacks on civilians turns the CIO into a quasi-army. Besides, gathering evidence was likely to be deterred by a number of factors. The first is the security of the civilians, which was not guaranteed by either group. Failure on the part of the civilians to give information to Government agents could attract their wrath. On the other hand, civilians could be attacked by the dissidents if they “sold them out” to the CIO. It can be posed that the dissidents expected tribal loyalty, with the result that those who sold out were tortured or killed. Indeed, the CCJP (1999) recorded at least one incident in which the dissidents accused residents of Mtsuli village of being sell-outs. As punishment, they killed 9 people, assaulted 146 and detained 16 and left about people missing. In such circumstances, if the CIO or any other Government security forces were to elicit some information from the civilians, they had no choice but to use some methods of torture. It is only reasonable to suppose so, post hoc. The civilians’ method of protecting themselves involved not antagonizing both the security forces and the dissidents. Thus, literally, they were caught between a rock and a hard place.
The deployment of the 5th Brigade shows the Government was aware of the lack of the CIO’s capacity to deal with the conflict on their own. As argued above, the CIO had to turn into a quasi-army anyway in order to deal with the conflict, which was military in nature. The use of the army, in addition, underscores the Government’s belief that the dissidents had to be overwhelmed by the Government’s much greater capacity. Moreover, it shows that the Government did not believe in the efficacy of the CIO’s more intrusive methods against an enemy that was not only armed, but drew its strength from the fear and/or passive support of its tribal base. The fact that the dissidents did not have “popular” support (CCJP) is made redundant by the fact that the troublemakers were nested within, and were largely operating in an area of, their own tribe. Bin Laden’s ability to elude the technologically endowed American Military is not only due to his intelligence, but may be primarily derive from the fact that those who know where he is are not prepared to sell him out. They do not necessarily need to actively support him. To claim there were no Zapu or Ndebele people whatsoever who supported the dissidents would only amount to total denial. First, the Ndebele civilians could be blamed by the security forces for nurturing the conflict, either indirectly or directly, if they were perceived to be passively “supporting” the dissidents. If the civilians failed to report the presence or activities of the dissidents; failed or refused to provide any information about the activities and whereabouts of the dissidents operating in their neighborhood, that could be taken as passively supporting the dissident cause. This was likely, given the fact that the dissidents were members of families, villages, and the tribe of the civilians. Secondly, the study of “normal” social cognition tells us that at least some people are likely to actively support members of their social group when they engage in conflict with another social group. It is as if noticing and acknowledging the support somehow justifies the mass-murder of Ndebeles. This is wrong, for it does not, and is what has led to the political correctness and fear that is typical of the discussion of the issue, leading inevitably to biased and wrong conclusions.
To claim that the conflict had no tribal base at all is to be delusional as well. Otherwise we ask why the dissidents mainly rose from, and operated in and around Matebeleland. Were they not targeting the Shona civilians who lived in Matebeleland and the Midlands? If Zapu (and Ndebele) ex-guerillas had been delegated by the Government to quash the dissidence, would they have obliged? Doesn’t this explain why the 5th Brigade was mainly Shona in composition, with any Ndebele elements removed prior to its deployment (CCJP)? Does this realization make me tribalistic? Was the Shona composition of the 5th Brigade an endorsement by the Shona tribe of the indiscriminate attacks on the Ndebeles? Are the Shona not blamed though, for passively supporting the Government’s brutality against the Ndebeles? They certainly are! Although it is possible that the conflict was not triggered primarily by tribal concerns, the tribal background correlated closely with group membership of the dissidents, with the geographical location of the disturbances, the composition of the then sitting Government and the membership of the security forces. The Ndebele background of the dissidents meant that if any civilians were to be rightly or wrongly blamed for the conflict, it was going to be the Ndebele. If people were to passively or actively support them, they were likely to be Ndebele. The geographical location of the conflict meant that if any civilians were to be caught in crossfire, they were going to be largely Ndebele. If the Government or the security forces were to err in dealing with the conflict, that was going to smear the whole Shona tribe. The above corollaries serve to highlight the complexity that unfortunately derives from the tribal lines that could be connected to the conflict in one way or the other. But to give the tribal background some ultimately causal role is ultimately wrong. To do so is to claim, rather awkwardly, that if the dissidence had never happened, there was always going to be a tribal war against the Ndebele. Alternatively, and more lightly, this can mean that the attempt to stem the dissidence was only an excuse to massacre the Ndebeles, and that the massacres were pre-determined. It is hard to objectively make that claim, for no attempt has been made to mass-kill any Ndebele people outside the timeframe of the 1980s disturbances. On the other hand, however, it is important to appreciate that it is mostly Ndebele people who were brutalized and /or killed, which does not amount to the above, much broader claim.
Of course, we cannot relish the fact that the conflict ended up being tribal in essence. We should regret it, together with the poison that it was to sow among us. Still, I must emphasize that noticing the tribal elements of the conflict should not be seen as justifying tribal attacks and hatred. Importantly, this does not justify the slaughter of thousands of Ndebele civilians. This was a monumental failure on the Government’s part. Any responsible member of the Government should speak with sincere regret about what happened. Neither should what happened then be taken as an excuse and justification for nursing and spreading tribal hatred. The bitterness is there among some Ndebeles, is understandable, and cannot be wished away. If mostly Shona civilians were massacred by a mostly Ndebele Government, I would be equally bitter. But does that give me the right to preach tribal hatred? To use the tribal bitterness for perennially destructive purposes is not for the benefit of anybody. The so-called Umthwakazi are the case in point. This group of tribalistic malcontents is warping young minds with only self-debilitating ideologies. If the mass killing of Ndebeles was and remains wrong, as most reasonable people would agree, then how and why can the Umthwakazi preach propaganda that can potentially lead to another bout of mass killings?
Anyway, what is most disturbing is that everyone who writes on the issue of Gukurahundi invariably seems to overestimate the number of people killed by Government security forces during Gukurahundi. Intuitively, deliberately understating the number of people who lost their lives is tantamount to devaluing the lives of Ndebele people. It is this kind of dehumanization that helps to entrench suspicion and acrimony. Not underestimating should not mean overestimating, however. Deliberately overestimating the number of people killed is not beneficial, either, unless one has ulterior motives. One such motive stems from a desire to obtain political advantage from the killings, which is a rather selfish way of thinking. A related motive stems from a desire to justify retributional ideologies and attendant tribal warfares. Whatever the motives might be, a separatist Umthwakazi internet site puts the number of people killed at an incredible 40,000, even claiming that the actual number may well be 6 times. It can only shock us that the entirety of the liberation struggle, including the Nyadzonya and Chimoio bombings by military aircraft claimed only about 30,000 Black Zimbabweans, 10,000 less than the Umthwakazi figure. The Umthwakazi upper limit figure of 240,000 figure is even more surprising. The most agreed upon figure, that appears most often in the media, however, is 20, 000 or a less rigid “more than 20,000”. One can only question the authenticity of these figures since the only publication that is available to the public says the confirmed number of dead was 2000, “almost certain dead between 3,000 and 4,000: possible dead could be double this figure or more” (CCJP). The other comprehensive study carried out - the Chihambakwe Commission of Inquiry (1984) - has never been made public, which forces us to rely on the CCJP report if we are not to stray too much into speculation and bias. Assuming that the possible dead could be more than 4000, it is astonishing nevertheless that the error of margin is allowed to vary freely between 500%, 1,000% to above 10,000%. What we can deduce is that there is a clear motive to overestimate the number of people killed. Whatever figure is thrown into the public’s view, it seems normal as the majority of the writers and the recipients of the news (both Shona and Ndebele) are anti-Mugabe and anti-Zanu PF anyway. But Mugabe and possibly Zanu (PF) will certainly go one day, but the poisonous tribal ideologies sown among the young generations may never dissipate.
Anyway to his and Nkomo’s credit the 2 gentlemen signed the peace accord that brought peace to our country. If Nkomo forsake his tribal loyalties in doing so, he managed to save a few hundred or thousand lives of his countrymen. If Mugabe has messed up, at least he has managed not to preside over the death of a few hundred or thousand lives. If Mandela is hailed for saving lives, then these 2 gentlemen, for all their shortcomings, were his predecessors.
My thinking tells me that tribal hostilities are not of any use to anybody. Without the ability to translate the disaffections into intertribal aggression, these feelings can only consume the hater. With the capacity to harm others, we can only have wars. Our society unfortunately is not yet ready for the kind of dialogue that other societies that have gone through similar problems have successfully gone through. Covertly attacking each other via internet blogs, forums, and news sites will only help to spiral the hostilities. News reporters, far from doing anything close to “objective analysis” in their anti-Mugabe bandwagon, are busy and unwittingly fuelling the hard feelings. Perhaps it is also important to understand minority versus majority social cognition. While majorities, such as the Shona, are likely to gloss over the pains and concerns of the minorities, the minorities (e.g., Ndebeles) are likely to be hypersensitive about any issues that affect them, leaving no common ground. The media’s role is usually not to narrow the divide, but to polarize the differences. We all have a role to play to ensure we do not create conditions that may result in much more than we ever bargained for. The Government has a role to play, perhaps in compensating the victims, or engaging in projects in Matebeleland that help remove the perception of marginalization. Completing the Zambezi Water Project is a case in point. Extremists like Umthwakazi have no role in the future of Zimbabwe, as history will tell us. I welcome any logical dialogue on this issue, but will not pay attention to any hate-filled insults.
Zimbabwe needs logical debate to march forward, not emoting and hating, and insulting!