I might not be privy to exactly what the majority of the Ndebele truly feel about restoring their monarchy – as there has never been a comprehensive and authentic survey conducted – thus, will not even endeavour to speak on their behalf, but it would be utter tomfoolery not to analyze the shocking government’s response.
Why would the ZANU PF government react in such a paranoic and hysterical manner to the restoration of something that is as much a part of Zimbabwean history as chieftainships, which it currently recognizes?
If the Zimbabwe government constantly reminds us to respect the office of chiefs, as a vital cultural and traditional aspect of our nation, which anchors who we are as a people, why then resist the monarch – which is just as traditional and cultural to the Ndebele people?
Anyone who has even the most basic knowledge of history would know that the Ndebele had such esteemed kings as Mzilikazi and Lobengula, who were the cornerstone of their nation.
So what is so wrong in reviving this?
Is the historical relevance of the Ndebele monarch not the reason why the city of Bulawayo is even referred to as the ‘city of kings and queens’?
I would have thought that such a description would have meant that authorities in Zimbabwe appreciated the importance of the Nedebele monarchy.
Therefore, why would very senior officials in the government, such as vice president Kembo Campbell Mohadi, regard the revival of the Ndebele kingdom as ‘tribalist’ and ‘divisive’?
Is it not that the opposite is true – the denial of the Ndebele people to restore their historical legacy is tribalistic and divisive.
Why would the Ndebele – of all the various tribes of Zimbabwe – be the only ones to be denied their historical legacy?
All other tribal groups have been entitled to their historical chieftainships, so why not the Ndebele?
It is clear that the Zimbabwean ZANU PF regime is still up to its old tricks of divisive, tribalist, and racist tendencies, which it adopted way back during the party’s formation in 1963.
…and they have the audacity to blame the Ndebele for being tribalist and divisive!
It is similar to an abusive husband who blames his abused wife of being the aggressor.
The excuse that the issue of the monarchy should have been raised during the constitution-making process in 2013, holds no water, and is as lame as it is foolish.
The constitution-making process is continuous, as it can be amended at any time, as provided in section 328 of the Constitution of Zimbabwe – as such, the door is not closed for those who want to restore their monarchy.
The Ndebele just need to continue lobbying for their kingdom, and elect those who stand for their cause.
Other countries in our region, and beyond – such as South Africa, Lesotho, and Swaziland – have kept their historical monarchs, and, thus, why should the Ndebele not be accorded this same right?
What is so tribalist and divisive about the Zulu kingdom in South Africa?
Is Lesotho burning today as a result of their kingdom?
In fact, if the truth be told, the office of the presidency is more alien to Zimbabwe – and Africa, as a whole – than the Ndebele monarchy.
If there is an office that could be removed from the country’s political landscape as un-Zimbabwean, that would be the posts of President and Vice President!
This country had chiefs and the Ndebele kingdom way before Europeans brought the parliamentary system, which included such posts as President and Prime Minister.
Thus, it was totally inappropriate for Mohadi to utter such disparages against the restoration of the Ndebele monarch, as they are more entitled to that office, than Mohadi is to the vice presidency.
If anything, Mohadi should have called for a referendum amongst the Ndebele on whether they would want the monarchy’s restoration or not, and in what form they would want their kingdom.
Do they want a geographical region to be identified as the Ndebele kingdom, or would they prefer a symbolic king who stands for them, or any other form?
Those are the pertinent issues to be debated amogst the Ndebele, and not for the government to dismiss them out of hand.
Mohadi, though not a Ndebele – but, is from the Matabeleland region – should adopt a leadership role and speak out for the people from that region – and not against them.
He should be seen to transcend the usual shallow tribalist and racist nature of ZANU PF, and be the bigger man who appreciates that a people’s identity does not divide them, but actually unites them.
We, as Zimbabweans should finally put a stop to the stereotype that Africans allow their diversity to divide them – leading to wars and conflicts – but, rather that we see the beauty of our different cultures and traditions, and these unite and strengthen us.
The ZANU PF regime is the one that brought animosity amongst the varied tribal and racial groups of Zimbabwe, leading to such atrocities as Gukurahundi and the violent and murderous 2000 land invasions against White farmers.
Similarly, the government’s psychotic and warped solution to oneness and unity is either the annihilation of all other tribal and racial groups, than the Shona.
Is that why it took them all of 33 years for them to finally recognise that we had 16 languages in this country?
Did they think that acknowledging such a fact was ‘divisive’ and ‘tribalist’?
That is just how disturbed the ZANU PF government is, and it is a grave pity that people who were from a more unifying party as PF ZAPU would stoop so low as to renege on their earlier principles advocated by Joshua Nkomo.
Only a shallow people can be divided by the appreciation of one’s culture, tradition, and tribal identity.
I am of Zulu descent – my paternal grandfather having emigrated from South Africa, and our surname being bastardized from Mpofana – and my mother is of the Manyika tribe, whilst my wife was born in Zambia to a Zambian mother and a Malawian father.
Such diversity does not lead to chaos, anarchy, hatred or conflict in my family – but, actually brings out the beauty of our diversity – as we all appreciate and proudly acknowledge our differing culture and traditions.
Therefore, why is it so difficult for the ZANU PF government to do the same?
Are they still stuck in their own narrow-mindedness that they do not even recognize a good thing, even when it is staring them straight in the face?
The Ndebele are not asking for much, except that – just as any other tribe in Zimbabwe – be accorded their right to their culture and historical legacy…is that too much to ask?
If there is anyone with the right to deny them that right, it can only be the Ndebele themselves – and no one else!
° Tendai Ruben Mbofana is a social justice activist, writer, author, and speaker. He is the Programmes Director with the Zimbabwe Network for Social Justice (ZimJustice). Please call/WhatsApp: +263782283975, or (calls ONLY): +263715667700, or email: [email protected]. Please also ‘Like’ the ‘ZimJustice’ page on Facebook.