THE UNENDING QUEST FOR SELF DETERMINATION AND RESTOTRATION OF MTHWAKAZI: INKUZI SERIES: DISCUSSION PAPER 2
9 December 2016
This paper is multi-fold with a specific motivation of triggering an intellectual debate, coupled with not only comments but positive seismic contributions. The role of Dr Joshua Mqabuko Nkomo as leader of the Zimbabwe Africa People Union (ZAPU) and as Commander-In-Chief of the Zimbabwe People’s Revolutionary Army (ZIPRA) is examined for what it yields vis a vis the Unended Quest for the Self-Determination of the people of Mthwakazi. This examination is done without fear, favour or prejudice. It is intended in clarifying a number of misconceptions that some of our people hold.
This article also does not claim superior understanding of the issues at play, but seeks to provoke debate that should trigger a deeper understanding of the contribution made by this Giant, Dr Joshua Mqabuko Ka Nyongolo Nkomo as leader both of ZAPU and ZIPRA. Attention will be paid to his contribution in the struggle that culminated in the liberation of a country called Zimbabwe. That basically is the design of the argument. It is therefore the thesis of this paper that Dr Joshua Mqabuko Nkomo’s unparalleled contribution in the struggle for the liberation of Zimbabwe should not be confused with struggle for the Restoration of Mthwakazi.
2. The Charismatic Personality of Dr Joshua Mqabuko Nkomo
Criticism in life is the key driver towards the achievement of a paradigm shift in terms of understanding the separate ideologies and aspirations of a range of personalities. When it comes to the charismatic personality of ‘uMdala wethu’, ‘Umfoka Nyongolo’ who can deny that he was a magnetic personality? On the question of the aspirations of all our people throughout the length and breadth of Mthwakazi, who can deny that Dr Joshua Mqabuko Nkomo was the embodiment of all our aspirations for freedom, justice and equality. The question though is whether these aspirations were ever achieved or realised.
On the question of ideology, Dr Joshua Mqabuko Nkomo's nationalism embraced an idea which was far ahead of his time and therefore impracticable with the selfishness of a people who had never in their own history known the concept of a nation building involving various ethnic groupings or so-called different ‘tribes’.
The history of the Shona people blended well with modern politics in that their chieftaincy (of Lomagundi, etc.) was based on the number of people with the same totem. So they literally ruled their relatives over and against the minorities. These are the same people that Nkomo was eager to unite with and create one big nation called Zimbabwe. However, these people were far below that level of thinking. They still needed several years of developing a sense of nationhood themselves before they could be bound together with the King Mzilikazi nation which knew long back ukuthi abantu belukwa njani bengafani baze benze isizwe sinye.
Nationalism therefore was a wrong ideology that marginalised and excluded the people of Mthwakazi while the Shona people combined were themselves only beginning to experiment with the concept of power and ruling. They had never had a King or power concentrated in an individual, but only to certain chiefs. No wonder why Nkomo was hailed a great hero in Zimbabwe. His charisma held together the Mthwakazi people in disciplined submission to him while his nationalist ideology swallowed them and subjugated them to the Zimbabwean concept of state and nationhood. U Chief Ndiweni wayeqinisile ukuthi ungeke wabopha inkomo lobabhemi. These ethnic groups were not equal in terms of maturity in kingdom and nation building.
Even Joshua Nkomo himself noted his blunder when he said that "One lesson l have had to learn late in life is that a nation can gain independence without its people being free’.
Having outlined the aspirations under the personal charisma and ideology of ‘uMdala Wethu’ we nevertheless all have a deeper understanding and respect for him as a leader. We should however not lose sight that his charisma was not utilised for the emancipation of his people of Mthwakazi. Rather it was located with the confines of having accepted the annexation of Mthwakazi and its forced marriage with another country, Mashonaland.
We should never lose respect for his heroic efforts but at the same time we need to realise how misguided they were in that Zimbabwe got its freedom and Mthwakazi remained in bondage up to today. Such in-depth analysis of our present predicament allows us to free our minds and envisage a different reality for abantu bakaMthwakazi. All nationalistic efforts of the political parties since Zimbabwe’s independence have never been a threat to the Shona hegemony because they have equally been misguided. The only agenda that threatens and shakes the enemy is a factually buttressed restoration agenda. This is not politically misguided. Get your territory then practise your politics in a free country. What politics could ever be won when Zimbabweans regard Mthwakazi as a colony solely for its resources regardless of whoever is in power? What victory can we ever look forward to with all the Shona-speaking led opposition parties? No victory at all, but the continuation of the status quo of the Rule by Conquest. Unless we change our understanding of history we shall forever remain slaves. As Bantu Steve Biko observed, that ‘the greatest power of the oppressor is not the machine gun but the mind of the oppressed’. Accordingly, it is in the interest of those in power, to continue making reference to the people who betrayed their own their heroes, so that they never rise above the betrayal. Our heroes did not intentionally betray us. They technically did. They played a wrong card. They also did not see how they lost the game. Let us rise up now armed with this understanding and play by a different sort of game with its rules all in the name of claiming what is rightfully ours, the Restoration of Mthwakazi and its sovereignty.
It remains true that the greatest enemies of our people have been our people themselves. We need fresh winds to blow all that cloud of confusion away once and for all and let our people see their own future in the restoration agenda. Let us embrace the legitimacy of our own independent humanity. Let us grasp the only reality there is in the form of our legitimate space and our true identity as uMthwakazi completely distinct and separate from Zimbabwe. We do not need to be defined and validated by Zimbabweans as is seen in any efforts of our people to involve Zimbabweans in any of their political parties so that our identity must be palatable to the oppressor. We are who we are, period. We have many times lost our chance, betrayed ourselves. Let us learn from history. Chief Khayisa Ndiweni had the spirit of Mthwakazi consciousness, whilst Nkomo had a nationalist spirit based on integration with those who had historically never tasted power but did so at our expense. Under ‘uMdala Wethu’ we simply played the wrong card at huge and devastating human costs. Let us wake up now. As Victor Hugo observed ‘nothing can stand in the way of an idea whose time has come’.
3. Revisiting Dr Joshua Mqabuko Nkomo’s Charismatic Leadership Qualities
History has recorded that whenever there had been hostilities during the liberation war against colonialism in what was Rhodesia between the Zimbabwe African National Liberation Army (ZANLA), the military wing of ZANU-PF, and ZIPRA the military wing of the Zimbabwe African Peoples Union (ZAPU), the ZIPRA forces had always defeated ZANLA forces in battle. This was also clearly demonstrated in 1981 when the ZANU-PF regime of Prime Minister Robert Gabriel Mugabe instructed ZANLA forces to destroy ZIPRA forces while awaiting integration into the Zimbabwe National Army. ZANLA forces were heavily defeated and driven out of Bulawayo by ZIPRA. At the same time, open conflict and skirmishes between ZANLA forces and ZIPRA forces had also broken out in various integration camps throughout the country with ZIPRA forces emerging victorious.
In February 1981, Prime Minister Robert Gabriel Mugabe having recognised the defeat of his ZANLA forces but still determined to destroy ZIPRA forces, sought air power assistance from Ian Smith, the former Rhodesian Prime Minister, and deployed the Rhodesian Air Force supported by the Rhodesian African Rifles against ZIPRA forces based at Entumbane township in Bulawayo. Several bombing raids were carried out by the Rhodesian Air Force against ZIPRA forces resulting in scores of people being killed. The Rhodesian forces also suffered heavy casualties. The cessation of these hostilities only came to fruition after Prime Minister Robert Gabriel Mugabe (having started the war and suffered defeat) persuaded the ZAPU leader, Joshua Mqabuko Nkomo, to intervene by ordering his ZIPRA forces to cease fire and return to their camps to await integration into the newly established Zimbabwe National Army.
When Prime Minister Robert Gabriel Mugabe's inspired strategy of destroying ZIPRA forces in 1981 had resulted in the defeat of his ZANLA forces in Bulawayo, he had simultaneously requested assistance from apartheid South Africa, alongside that of the Rhodesian Air Force and the Rhodesian African Rifles. The apartheid regime had positively responded to Prime Minister Robert Mugabe's request by deploying South African troops (supported by tank divisions, armoured personnel carriers, air power and other heavy military equipment) along the Zimbabwe Beit-bridge border (on the South African side) ready to intervene in support of Mugabe's regime.
The readiness of the apartheid South African troops to intervene in support of Mugabe's ZANU-PF in 1981 had been intended to prevent Zimbabwe from providing operational bases to the African National Congress (ANC), and its military wing Umkhonto We Sizwe (MK), in the event of ZIPRA emerging victorious and ZAPU assuming power in the country. This assistance was consistent with the pre-1980 secretive agreement between ZANU-PF and the apartheid regime which was signed in Mozambique. However, it subsequently transpired that the apartheid regime's concerns about such a possibility (that is of ZAPU overthrowing the Mugabe regime) had been ill-conceived.
It was not because ZAPU had no designs or desires of ruling Zimbabwe, but that the ZAPU leadership recognised that they were rapidly being dragged by ZANU-PF into a brutal ethnic conflict that would have had serious consequences. On the question of principle, therefore, the ZAPU leadership were determined at all cost to prevent Zimbabwe degenerating into a civil war of the types experienced in Mozambique and Angola in recent times. It was this conviction more than any other reason that constituted ZAPU's full compliance with the Lancaster House settlement.
As a result, the disarmament and demobilisation of all the ZIPRA forces proceeded smoothly without any incidents. Those who had not been integrated into the new Zimbabwe National Army joined the labour market and the ranks of the unemployed, whilst others embarked on various economic activities comprising co-operatives and community development projects. However, as ZAPU was voluntarily disarming its ZIPRA forces out of existence under the terms of the Lancaster House settlement, Robert Gabriel Mugabe's ZANU-PF, on the other hand, was welcoming into Zimbabwe a total of 106 North Korean instructors who began arriving in August 1981 to train and equip the Fifth Brigade or Gukurahundi.
4. Was Nkomo’s Charismatic Leadership Beneficial to the People of Mthwakazi?
The people of Mthwakazi are still baffled as to the reasons why Dr Joshua Mqabuko Nkomo (as supreme commander of ZIPRA forces) proceeded voluntarily in disarming his forces in accordance to the Lancaster House settlement provisions, whilst around the same period Prime Minister Robert Gabriel Mugabe was doing exactly the opposite - not complying with the Lancaster House settlement, but instead training and equipping his separate army, Gukurahundi or Fifth Brigade.
The explanation is simple. Robert Gabriel Mugabe and the entire ZANU-PF leadership were fully aware that the Zimbabwe question had already decidedly been determined along ethnic lines during the first independence elections of 1980. In other words the Shona people had triumphed over the Ndebele people. This victory therefore represented the first phase of ZANU-PF's intentions to establish a Shona state in Zimbabwe. And since they had only won in the Mashonaland and Manicaland regions of the country, they were determined to conquer and dominate the whole country at all cost. Hence their next phase of campaign would be in Mthwakazi (Matebeleland and Midlands).
It is precisely at this stage that Robert Gabriel Mugabe and ZANU-PF played their cards to perfection. They knew very well that the ZAPU leadership was mainly dominated by Shona-speaking people of highest convictions who had fought gallantly against colonialism in order to achieve genuine democratic values in Zimbabwe. Robert Gabriel Mugabe and his henchmen therefore reasoned correctly that if ZANU-PF unleashed a brutal extermination campaign against the Ndebele people, the executive Shona leaders of ZAPU would prevent it from responding in kind. In other words, the Shona executive members of ZAPU (representing constituencies in both Mashonaland and Manicaland) would not approve any decision (under any circumstances) that would have led to the slaughter of their own people in their respective regions. After all, none of the Shona executive leaders of ZAPU represented any constituency in the areas of Mthwakazi (Matebeleland and Midlands).
It was therefore this dominance of Shona executive members within ZAPU which paralysed the decision-making process of ZAPU, and which effectively allowed the slaughter of the people of Mthwakazi by ZANU-PF to continue unabated for many years. In other words hundreds of thousands of Mthwakazi people paid a heavy price with their lives simply because ZAPU had convictions about unity and democratic values, and also because of the existence of a few Shona people within the leadership hierarchy. That such a grave situation of indecisiveness could have been allowed to happen, given Dr Joshua Mqabuko Nkomo's charismatic appeal amongst his followers is even more baffling.
Until the brutal carnage of the Mthwakazi people by Robert Gabriel Mugabe's regime had been completed, Dr Joshua Mqabuko Nkomo had a unique authoritative appeal of a religious kind on his followers. He had always been revered as some kind of a living God by his followers. It was because of this appeal that his ZIPRA forces had heeded his instructions (without any questions) to cease fire after they had defeated and driven ZANLA forces from Bulawayo in 1981. It was also precisely because of his stature and appeal that all of the ZIPRA forces disarmed and disbanded quietly when he had instructed them to do so in 1981 in compliance with the Lancaster House settlement.
Dr Joshua Mqabuko Nkomo's appeal effectively transformed him into some kind of a spiritual cult figure. As a result, for generations, the people of Mthwakazi had been incapable of taking any independent political decisions that affected their lives without being instructed to do so by Dr Joshua Mqabuko Nkomo. This is perhaps the fundamental reason why genocide and ethnic cleansing was committed against the Mthwakazi people. It could have been stopped had Joshua Mqabuko Nkomo called for such action. There is virtually no way in which Robert Gabriel Mugabe's butchering brigades could have escaped with their lives from Mthwakazi (Matebeleland and Midlands) had there been any resistance.
The fact that Joshua Mqabuko Nkomo chose not to instruct his followers to drive out the Fifth Brigade from Mthwakazi (Matebeleland and Midlands), demonstrates clearly his incapability of giving clear cut directives to his most senior Shona members of ZAPU, even if such directives resulted in their resignation from the party. It also shows that he was incapable of leading a movement (particularly at the political executive level) which comprised people with varied interests and objectives, and as such he could not give strong leadership regarding the way forward to challenge and redress not only the hidden agenda of ZANU-PF, but the actual brutal carnage of his followers by Robert Gabriel Mugabe's regime.
Arising from this incapability to lead, Joshua Mqabuko Nkomo's long held convictions about achieving unity and democratic values in Zimbabwe shifted towards naked appeasement. Thus he did not want to be seen or perceived (particularly by his Shona colleagues within ZAPU) to be on the side of the people of Mthwakazi and thus playing ‘tribal’ music. Rather than openly taking a stand as leader of ZAPU (whose followers were being exterminated) and instructing all his ex-ZIPRA forces to take up arms against Robert Gabriel Mugabe's butchering brigades, Joshua Mqabuko Nkomo resorted to cries reminiscent to those of the powerless. The following comments represent a telling example of the extent of appeasement that Joshua Mqabuko Nkomo (as leader of simply the best former liberation war fighters in Zimbabwe) had degenerated into:
"I told Parliament that soldiers had rounded up six men and accused them of failing to report the presence of anti-government guerrillas. They were beaten and buried in two shallow graves... I also informed parliament that government troops were preventing food getting into the curfew area and that several children had died."
"There is something terribly wrong. There has been a curfew since February 3. The press cannot go into this enormous area. There have been horrific eye-witness reports, some of them in your British papers. Yet not one of the so-called dissidents has been arrested and brought to court. No minister has been to the area. Nothing has happened except military action".
"I said it was the duty of the Zimbabwe Government to make a full official investigation. I pressed for this urgently. I find it disturbing that after a series of these crimes in Matebele country, all we have seen in court are just armed robbers. We would like to see these politically motivated people we are told about, the dissidents, brought to court and, if found guilty, convicted. This is either inefficiency or else there is something terribly wrong".
"The estimates [of the dead so far] vary from 3,000 to 20,000, but no one knows. I know of six young men who were shot by the soldiers of the Fifth Brigade, and dumped in a mass grave. I have received reports of our young girls raped and other Matebele people whose limbs have been broken by these soldiers".
"I asked the minister if he would be prepared to meet a delegation of six - two who had seen the young men shot and know the grave, two who saw the rapings, two who saw the bones being broken. But the minister said "No, I believe you". So that makes the case for an official investigation more urgent".
"I presented the men who had buried the six victims in Kezi to cabinet ministers. I also brought them two teenage schoolgirls who had been raped by Fifth Brigade soldiers... I have done my bit to tell the government about these things. It is up to the Government to discover what has happened".
"You cannot have a one-party state when people are torn apart by hatred, tribalism and racism".
"I can't say what has gone wrong with Zimbabwe, because I don't know what is right with him (Mugabe)".
"All my men were disarmed. I have no military support. I have asked the Government to set up a commission of inquiry, but they have refused. There has been no investigation of allegations I have made in Parliament about the killings and rapes".
The evidence thus far presented in this paper shows beyond any shadow of doubt that Robert Gabriel Mugabe's regime committed genocide against an unarmed Mthwakazi civilian population. Throughout this period of carnage not even a single "dissident" was ever caught and brought to court. Responding to the Catholic Bishops' statement alleging widespread slaughter of the Mthwakazi people, Prime Minister Robert Gabriel Mugabe accused the Church at a press conference in the following words:
"The same Church has now decided to counter successful government activities
directed against institutions of Joshua Nkomo which have been sustaining
dissidents". To this he added how "very happy" he was with the "wonderful"
slaughter of the Mthwakazi people".
Earlier, before addressing the press conference on Saturday 14 April 1984, Prime Minister Robert Gabriel Mugabe had called for the establishment of a one-party State in Zimbabwe in an address to the compulsory rally (in which residents had been forced to attend) in Bulawayo. Subsequently, however, in a telling interview with Donald Trelford, Prime Minister Robert Gabriel Mugabe gave the real reasons for the genocide when he said:
"The solution in Matebeleland is a military one. Their grievances are unfounded. The
verdict of the voters was cast in 1980. They should have accepted defeat then. The
situation in Matebeleland is one that requires a change. The people must be
It is absolutely crucial and vital that the experiences of those at the receiving end of Mugabe's genocide reorientation programme designed not only to achieve a one-party State in Zimbabwe, but also to completely annihilate them (the Mthwakazi people) from the face of the earth are revisited. They include the following eyewitness accounts:
"This is a dissident baby. This is what will happen to your babies if you help dissidents.
He then dropped the tiny corpse in the dust... They began beating us with sticks and
guns, bayonetting us, burning plastic against our skin while our hands and mouths were
secured. They tore curtains, put cushions into our mouths. We were tortured for about
"Do you think that this government is so stupid to send soldiers to defend you from
dissidents when there are no dissidents? Therefore you are the dissidents, you that
hide the dissidents... You are screaming, who are you calling, is this a sign that you are
‘’Then the commander shot Tshaka and Wilson Ndlovu, and released Maganda Dube.
Next he killed Daniel Ngwenya and Sigidini Dube, who was shot five times... On the
grave we put branches. I also saw a big grave which had stones in it. There are 16
buried in this grave. I can identify the commander who did the shootings".
"The men were made to raise their hands while being beaten. The young women were
made to sing and dance...They beat me with mupani sticks, shambok and truncheon.
They were all beating me at the same time. I was beaten until I fainted. They pulled up
my dress and beat my bottom and back and I was bleeding".
Decisive leadership requires that all those responsible for the genocide in Mthwakazi own up to their crimes against humanity. They include amongst many others, Robert Gabriel Mugabe, Emerson Munangagwa, Sidney Sekeramayi and Perence Shiri. It should be pointed out most emphatically that there are parallels between the genocide carried out by the ZANU-PF regime of Robert Gabriel Mugabe and the genocide perpetrated against the Jews by the Nazis in Germany and Poland. Whilst the holocaust remains the first amongst equals, it differs in scale (in terms of the absolute number of people killed) and methodology of annihilation. In Mtwakazi, the Fifth Brigade's or Gukurahundi's "gas chambers" took the form of mass live burials in graves, toilets, mine shafts, and mass burnings in huts, etc.
As this presentation has shown thus far, the design of the argument is simply that Dr Joshua Mqabuko Nkomo’s charismatic leadership did not at the very least benefit the people of Mthwakazi. There are a multiplicity of reasons to this, including the fact that ZAPU and its military wing ZIPRA did not have any intelligence whatsoever as to the real intensions of Zanu-PF. If they did have any intelligence it was so humiliatingly incompetent that it was worthless. It is certainly not the intelligence that was required to support such a charismatic leader of Dr Joshua Nkomo’s standing. As a matter of fact this intelligence if at all it ever existed was laughable in the eyes of the drafters of the Lancaster House Agreement (the likes of Lord Carrington, Margaret Thatcher, etc., - the great, and grandchildren of the drafters of the Matebeleland Order In Council of 18 July 1894). It is not surprising therefore that we the people of Mthwakazi find ourselves in the position we are in. The so-called ‘Black Russian’ was nothing but a smokescreen to hide our illiteracy, ignorance and therefore lack of understanding of the impact of the destructive power of European colonialism and its surrogate Rule by Conquest proxy, the Zanu-PF regime of Robert Gabriel Mugabe.
5. The Impact of the Treaty of Versailles of 1884 in present day Africa
Perhaps the greatest damage imposed on the people of Mthwakazi has been the systematic under investment in schools (primary, secondary) and much more critical in areas related to teaching of science subjects: chemistry, biology, physics, mathematics, information technology, and others. During the period of European de-colonisation in Zimbabwe, the ZANU-PF ruling regime of Robert Gabriel Mugabe built thousands of schools in the areas dominated by its so-called majority ethnic group but hardly any in the marginalised regions of Mthwakazi country which as a matter of fact also comprise the imposed territorial boundaries of present day Zimbabwe.
This genocide and ethnic cleansing in education policy has serious implications for the future of the people of Mthwakazi. It reinforces discrimination against the people from these marginalised regions in employment in the army, police, prisons and other government institutions on the basis that people from this region lack appropriate qualifications without an understanding of the ZANU-PF ruling regime’s genocide and ethnic cleansing policies:
The denial of students from Mthwakazi’s marginalised regions places at teacher training colleges while accepting ALL from the regions of the ruling ZANU-PF regime of Robert Gabriel Mugabe. This effect results in the training and deployment of more teachers from the regions of the ruling ZANU-PF regime into ALL marginalised Mthwakazi schools from Grade 0 to Form 6. The rot is so deep that it cannot be addressed by shouting or and telling these teachers to return to whence they came from. That is simply tinkering at the margins; it is like looking for a needle in a haystack.
Importing civil servants into the marginalised regions of Mthwakazi from those of the ZANU-PF ruling regime of Robert Gabriel Mugabe to propagate their own languages at the expense of languages in the marginalised regions. This forces grandmothers and grandfathers in Mthwakazi to learn an oppressive language of the ruling ZANU-PF regime very late in their years. This is unacceptable as was teaching Soweto kids to learn Afrikaans in 1976.
Use of indigenous resources of marginalised Mthwakazi communities to develop those of the ruling ZANU-PF regime, and brutal of all, women and girls have been compelled through various mechanisms including rape to breed with ethnic groups of the ruling ZANU-PF regime of Robert Gabriel Mugabe and its cronies, such that for all historical and contemporary purposes they have conceived children through genocidal breeding. Clearly, making noises at one school against Shona teachers undercuts this critical area that demands the application of punitive justice.
6. Ethnic identities and Conflict
Unlike countries of Western Europe where nation states emerged as a result of the combination of the widespread feelings of belonging, the sharing of similar historical and cultural symbols as well as similar belief systems and common identities resulting in the formation of nation states, in Africa the situation has been completely different. In the case of Africa and many parts of the so-called Third World, nation states have been forcibly imposed by European colonialism without consent from subjects and without any due regard to ethnic/national, community, cultural, language and political identities and clear territorial demarcations.
Accordingly, there are four types of states bequeathed to the so-called Third World by former European colonial masters:
Those characterised by legitimate agreement and consensus between state and nation,
Those where the majority of the population perceive the state to be an imposter and distant, such as in the case of Mthwakazi.
Those whose different large ethnic/national groups have been compelled through use of force to belong to a particular imposed state territorial boundaries but do not feel strongly to belonging to that particular so-called nation, for example Mthwakazi, and those where smaller parts within a defined territory are seen as constituting a nation.
With decolonisation, nearly all the countries in Africa, with the exception of South Africa whose union that was founded in 1910 and subsequently endorsed by the African National Congress following its formation in 1912, embarked on processes of legitimising the imposed colonised boundaries and ‘nation building’. These processes of ‘nation building’ characterised by ‘state nationalism’ rather than ‘popular nationalism’ had a particularly very weak foundation in civil society as well as the cultural and political community.
It has been this lack of synergy between the imposed ‘state nations’ such as Zimbabwe and different nationalities that has been responsible for conflicts between the imposed ‘state nations’ and their forced subjects or so-called citizens. Where these conflicts exist, resources are bound to be diverted to enforcing imposed territorial integrity at the expense of development initiatives. Zimbabwe is again a case in point which survives at the expense of Mthwakazi. The imposed ‘state nation’ on the other hand is always perceived by its so-called ‘subjects’ as an illegitimate and alien institution. Indeed this equally applies to Zimbabwe.
It is in terms of all the above that it is important to underline that despite his charismatic leadership qualities, Dr Joshua Mqabuko Nkomo did not interrogate the historical question of ethnic identities and conflict, neither did he understand the real and actual impact of the Treaty of Versailles highlighted above, nor did he have any appreciative imagination of what constitutes a nation state, a subject which is treated below. If only Dr Joshua Mqabuko Nkomo had recognised that ‘all that glitters is not gold’ he would have recognised that just like white people (such as the Russians, Polish, Hungarians, etc., just to mention a few in East Europe) the black people (the Shona, Hutu, Tutsi, the Mthwakazian) are also different although originating within the same African continent.
7. Ethnic Identities and the formation of state nations in Africa
European labelling considerations abound regarding definitions, in particular of a nation. In the case of Europe, for example, the English, Welsh and the Scots in the United Kingdom are perceived as constituting nations. Yet, similar constituted populations in Africa, such as the people of Mthwakazi or Mashonaland for that matter with the same attributes are labelled tribes. The variation in meanings can be seen as follows:
A nation comprises a strong widespread feeling of identity and solidarity within a political community which equally embodies a sense of wellbeing (Mthwakazi is exactly that kind of nation),
Nationalism is characterised by widespread positive and negative perception of other political communities (again Mthwakazi fits this description), and several states in Africa lack indisputable legitimacy as they are forcibly constituted by more than one nation (this is true of Zimbabwe).
Integration and various state building processes of these nations within a particular ‘state nation’ in Africa have involved a combination of power and vigorous lethal force, aided by a civil and military bureaucracy bequeathed by the former European colonial rulers. The state security apparatus of these nations has been vigorously utilised in the political and economic development agenda as a way of forced state building exercises against marginalised communities. Zimbabwe is a case in point as it is hell-bent on suffocating Mthwakazi.
The aims of so-called nation building within the ‘state nation’ framework have been to integrate different nations or political communities by force within a certain imposed territory. Within this exercise, the use of force has not been successful in enforcing to the targeted citizens or subjects a widespread feeling of belonging to that particular state nation. Put differently, in spite of all the genocide, ethnic cleansing, brutality and rape meted on the people of Mthwakazi, the poor continue to struggle without any basic form and access to affordable educational opportunities.
This failure of the ‘state nation’ building exercise has been due to the fact that those nations who are forced to belong to a particular ‘state nation’ do not recognise this imposition of a political community, including the sovereignty and legitimacy of that particular ‘state nation’. The Mthwakazi nation also does not recognise this imposition of Shonalisation, neither does it recognise the sovereignty and legitimacy of the Zimbabwe state. The marginalised communities or populations of Africa have clearly not recognised the political communities which have been forced upon them by the ‘state nations’ of those countries.
There can be no doubt therefore, that the marginalised people of Africa are a suppressed people, who as a result demand full access to educational and health facilities. The characterisation of the Mthwakazi nation derives from its long evolution with the following:
Common language and religious beliefs,
Organising and acting collectively against other groups or the ‘state nation’,
Common ideology, and
Common symbols and attributes.
In several countries in Africa, there can be no doubt that former European colonialism was systematically replaced by internal colonialism that has been responsible for plunder of resources of other political communities, and the manipulation of international relations at the expense of the suppressed and brutalised nations within the imposed state nations’ territorial boundaries. Such plunder has been at the heart of violating the indisputable rights of these nations to decide on their own nation building vision and associated development priorities. This is the sole reason why Mthwakazi is now a member of the Organisation of Emerging African States (OEAS) – put differently a member of a structure that represents NATIONS WITHOUT STATES based in Washington DC.
Biased development strategies in favour of the political community in power (such as in Zimbabwe) have exacerbated the plight of other national groups (especially those of Mthwakazi) within the imposed colonial territorial boundaries of most contemporary ‘state nations’ in Africa. These strategies have met with international recognition at the expense of the marginalised nations.
Given that these marginalised political communities or nations (such as Mthwakazi) within the imposed ‘state nations’ are excluded from a proportionate share of political and economic resources, including the benefits accrued from the plundering exercise, there is bound to be vigorous opposition leading to direct demands for the establishment of separate states. The Restoration Agenda for Mthwakazi is therefore not different, it follows this philosophical underpinning.
8. Self-Determination for Mthwakazi
Any challenge to colonial boundaries at this time usually means either extending these boundaries by encroaching on neighbouring countries or bifurcating the existing unitary state into more than one new state. The pursuit of some form of a political structure that changes the form and structure of an existing unitary state is fraught with difficulties. In most instances, the groups that challenge the ruling regime (such as the Mthwakazi Liberation Front) usually arrive at such a juncture after genocide had been committed and demonstrable ethnic cleansing policies pursued by the ruling regimes, are seen and perceived to be inimical to the survival life chances of marginalised groups (such as those in Mthwakazi) in areas such as language preservation, education, access to employment and contracts, distribution of land, and the like.
The pressure to re-arrange the unitary state invariably has been met with strong arm tactics from the former colonial powers, its proxy (in this case Zimbabwe) regional and the international community with vested interests. It is also met with plain rigid political thuggery from within the ruling regime (such as Zanu-PF) of the country concerned that normally characterises long-serving dictatorships, aided by a compliant army and political party that is dependent on political patronage. However, for the people of Mthwakazi, the post European colonial years have been anything but daily contact with various forms of genocide, ethnic cleansing and various forms of internal colonialism.
Given this continental scene where the people of Mthwakazi cannot access affordable education, these people, out of necessity to survive must address the following issues:
Why is it that a unitary system of government that the Treaty of Versailles (1884) imposed on Africa and subsequently bequeathed to us by our founders has suddenly become unpalatable?
Does democracy (defined to be individual choice, individual responsibility and rights of individuals) within a unitary state, ensure non-marginalisation of ethnic groups (Mthwakazi in this case) in accessing educational opportunities?
In Africa, democracy is simply "single-party-participatory democracy" (such as Zanu-PF) whatever that means! Under this perverse view of democracy, only members of ruling parties (Zanu-PF in this case), acting in accordance with strictly pre-determined guidelines issued by their political parties can enjoy some form of "democracy". This distorted view of democracy does not allow for dissent without severe and sometimes fatal consequences. Thus, the concept is akin to that of the rights of ruling regimes (closely related to authoritarian rights and yet so far from widely understood and clearly much more appealing view of democracy - individual choice, individual responsibility and rights embedded in the individual.
Furthermore, in Africa, just as in Zimbabwe, the difference between ruling political party rights and individual rights is that ethnic groups have no clear and unimpeded guaranteed avenues for redress against ruling regimes’ tyranny and genocide. For example, there are many instances where the regimes that perpetrated genocide, ethnic cleansing and marginalisation against substantial communities were granted immunity against prosecution and all the prominent figures from such regimes subsequently won promotion for "thorough work" such as in present day Zimbabwe.
In many African countries, perpetrators of genocide can still be chosen by their fellow despots to be Chairman of the Africa Union (AU). One remembers only too well how Idi Amin, Jean-Bedel Bokassa, Arab Moi, Gaddafi and Robert Gabriel Mugabe, have all been elected to this post. The fact that the AU Charter had a clause prohibiting a member state from interfering in the internal affairs of another served all these despots well because they committed genocide, various other atrocities and ethnic cleansing on the poor with the full knowledge that other despots and dictators would never raise an objection. This says a lot about how far we have to strive to prevent those who have committed crimes against humanity from achieving the status of leading such a continental organisation as the AU.
The survivors of genocide and ethnic cleansing (such as the people of Mthwakazi) have no legal recourse in Zimbabwe (just as in most parts of Africa) for restitution claims for the loved ones butchered for no other reason other than belonging to different ethnic and language groupings. If the standards that were applied in the case of Bosnia and Rwanda were to be applied to similar cases across Africa, including Zimbabwe, most of the members of the ruling regimes would definitely be tried for crimes against humanity.
What Africans of goodwill and other peace-loving peoples of the world must inculcate is to spread educational opportunities to the marginalised communities throughout Africa in order to address the historical structural imbalances in the field of education created by European colonialism and subsequently sustained by the new ruling elite of the ruling regimes across Africa. The world community must also tie its foreign investment, aid and funding to NGOs to the prevention of genocide and ethnic cleansing by such regimes. The slaughter of citizens by one ethnic group (such as happened in Mthwakazi) should be prevented at all cost and under any contrived or stated reason.
Perhaps it is important at this juncture to highlight how far the people of Africa have travelled since the Treaty of Versailles in 1884 that imposed a unitary system of government on Africa and subsequently bequeathed to us by our founders. Today, however, given the excesses of ethnic cleansing policies throughout Africa, there has been a systematic denial of education to the poor population by siege of their educational schools and institutions. As if to exacerbate this siege, the people of Mthwakazi are also continuously being exposed to daily attacks and exclusion: from classrooms, bill boards, toilets, restaurants, post offices, work places, banks and virtually in every sphere of their daily lives.
Following independence, many regimes such as the ZANU-PF regime in Zimbabwe, have continuously pursued de-industrialisation policies for many other towns and cities in order to promote their own cities. The strategy has been to place people from their areas and ruling parties in place of those from the marginalised areas of Mthwakazi in government jobs, as heads of companies (where the ruling Zanu-PF regime using government funds has bought controlling interests). The net result has been a deliberate change in the composition of the population to ensure majority votes for their candidates in the near future. Those who survived the genocide and ethnic cleansing in Mthwakazi have since been forced to migrate across many countries in the world, including South Africa and thus create a vacuum that can be filled by a deliberate policy to import people from the areas of the ruling ZANU-PF regime of Robert Gabriel Mugabe as landholders under the various models of farm confiscation programmes.
It is pivotal that the people of Mthwakazi penetrate the top government employment market both within and outside Mthwakazi. Thus, it is not surprising that the Embassies of the Zimbabwe throughout the world are completely staffed by the personnel from the areas of the ZANU-PF regime. We state this not because it is new or out of the ordinary, but because it has gone on for so long to present a clear basis for the self-determination of Mthwakazi, reverting back to its historical territorial integrity and boundaries.
The people of Mthwakazi just as all the marginalised communities throughout Africa have aspirations over the absolute control over education, culture and broadcasting, economic development and the whole issue of local government revenue-sharing with the central government. In addition, these people from the marginalised regions need clear, legally-binding rights to redo-revenue demands by the central government and any public expenditure reductions by the central government. It is this regard that the people of Mthwakazi in an independent state cannot again experience this holocaust governance brutality, hence their readiness to prevail through a federated structure that gives everyone those elusive inalienable human rights to justice, freedom and equality.
9. Concluding remarks
This paper and its argument design in a nutshell represents the first shots, in the debate regarding the contribution of the charismatic leadership of Dr Joshua Mqabuko Nkomo, in as far they could be perceived to have benefitted the people of Mthwakazi. Unfortunately, my own conclusion as argued throughout the course of this paper is that there is simply no evidence that suggests that the people of Mthwakazi benefitted. On the contrary, it is essentially Nkomo’s charisma and dominance that assisted and benefitted the rise of Shona hegemony in Zimbabwe. The people of Mthwakazi have not been able to see the wood out of the trees during the past thirty six (36) years that Zimbabwe attained independence. And as such, the people of Mthwakazi are in no doubt that had Dr Joshua Mqabuko Ka Nyongolo Nkomo used his charisma and leadership acumen for their benefit, Mthwakazi could long have been restored as a viable entity and a fully developed sovereign state.
10. Comments and Contributions
Kindly direct your comments and contributions to the following INKUNZI THINK TANK members:
Nkosilathi Mkhwananzi: email@example.com
Dumisani Malinga: firstname.lastname@example.org
Chrispen Nyoni: email@example.com
Edmos Khumalo: firstname.lastname@example.org
Andrea Sibanda: email@example.com
Mpiyesizwe Guduza: firstname.lastname@example.org
In thanking you in advance for your attention and interrogation to this submission, please kindly note that as MLF we would like to have equitable gender representation in our think tank, but we are thus far lacking capacity. We would therefore readily accept any volunteer from the rank of our opposite gender to comprise the abovementioned think tank. The fact that it is named INKUZI should not be perceived to be gender insensitive. Rather it is simply because of the naming of the proposed currency for Mthwakazi. I thank you.
Dr Mpiyesizwe Churchill Guduza
MLF Vice President