MUGABE THE LIBERATOR? ASK THE NDEBELE PEOPLE.
Posted By: Prince Burridge
Date: Friday, 15 October 2004, at 7:52 a.m.
MTHWAKAZI ACTION GROUP ON GENOCIDE AND ETHNIC CLEANSING IN MATEBELELAND AND MIDLANDS 2000
P.O. BOX 22141
LONDON SE18 6WP Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
UNITED KINGDOM Website: http://member.aol.com/maggemm
NEWSLETTER: 3 31 JULY, 1999
THE DEATH OF DR. JOSHUA MQABUKO NKOMO
AND THE WAY FORWARD FOR
THE NDEBELE PEOPLE
1. Yadilika Intaba. Joshua Mqabuko Nyongolo Nkomo, like Mzilikazi, Mncumbatha, Lobengula and all the other Ndebele greats, whom he has now joined in death, was the only Ndebele person this century who dared to vigorously challenge with success, the authoritarian system of colonialism. Joshua Nkomo was the first person (also a Ndebele person) to politicise all the black people in former Rhodesia, now present day Zimbabwe, to recognise that they were essentially human beings in as much as the white colonial settlers.
2. Nkomo's achievements, efforts, inspiration, and political pragmatic contribution speak volumes of the kind of man he was. They include amongst many others the internationalisation of the plight of black people of former Rhodesia, now present day Zimbabwe. He was instrumental in destroying the myth of the superior white race. His contribution in this regard ranks alongside the contributions of other great African leaders such as the late Kwame Nkrumah and the former President of South Africa, Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela.
3. In paying our tribute to Nkomo's historic contribution to the emancipation of black people in the imposed colonial boundaries of present day Zimbabwe, we feel compelled to comment on the historic tragic mistakes that Nkomo made, particularly as regards the plight of the own Ndebele people of Matebeleland and Midlands. Of particular significance, is the manner in which Nkomo's contribution was marred by appeasement and compromise, even at the expense of the basic survival of his own Ndebele people.
4. Nkomo's major historic error was his acceptance and recognition of the imposed colonial boundaries of a unitary state system of former Rhodesia, now present day Zimbabwe. This acceptance and recognition of the imposed boundaries of white settler colonialism effectively meant that Nkomo began his political career as a remarkable weak leader who lacked self-confidence in fighting for the re-emergence of the Ndebele Kingdom.
5. When Nkomo began his political career in the early 1950s, white settler colonialists had not only forcibly incorporated the historic indigenous land regions of the Ndebele people with those of the Shona people into the present unitary state system, but they had also done irreparable damage to whatever relations had existed prior to colonialism between these peoples. Afterall, white settler colonialism thrived through the divide and rule methodology of authoritarian power and domination. It was not a question of whether the colonialists wanted to forge ethnic homogeneity, but to fuel ethnic divisions through hate and slander between the Ndebele and Shona peoples in order to sustain white hegemony and superiority in former Rhodesia.
6. When the Southern Rhodesian African National Council (SRANC) was created in 1957, with Joshua Nkomo as leader, it was a multi-racial and multi-ethnic political movement. After the SRANC was banned in 1959, the National Democratic Party (NDP) was formed with Nkomo as leader. When the NDP in turn was banned in 1961, Nkomo alongside other former leaders of the NDP then formed the Zimbabwe African People's Union (ZAPU). When ZAPU too was banned in 1962, the party merely went underground than disband despite functioning as the People's Caretaker Council until 1963. At this time all ethnic groups in former Rhodesia supported ZAPU, but this changed in 1963 when Ndabaningi Sithole led a splinter group, the Zimbabwe African National Union (ZANU), with amongst others, Robert Gabriel Mugabe. The formation of ZANU marked the first time in the history of African politics in former Rhodesia, in which a political party was constructed purely on ethnic grounds.
7. But Nkomo did not heed this warning. Not only had Nkomo been outmanoeuvred into competing for political support with a ZANU party based purely on Shona ethnic grounds, but he had with the formation of ZAPU in 1961 also been outmanoeuvred by his Shona colleagues into accepting as a given, the unifying future country name, after Rhodesia, to be Zimbabwe. The name Zimbabwe is a Shona word which has no historical relevance and significance to the Ndebele people. By accepting the future naming of the imposed colonial boundaries, of former Rhodesia, to be fought over for and liberated under the name Zimbabwe, Nkomo had effectively undermined the aspirations for freedom and justice of his own Ndebele people.
8. It is significant that when ZANU was created, the emphasis was on NATIONAL UNION as if the concept of a nation state assumed ethnic homogeneity. Accordingly, since ZANU was primarily a Shona political party, its leaders were therefore determined to achieve ethnic homogeneity through the abominable violation of human rights, including genocide and ethnic cleansing of the Ndebele ethnic groupings. Hence the only reason given by Sithole for justifying the split from ZAPU, was that ZANU wanted a more "confrontational" approach to politics, meaning in effect, creating a mono-linguistic Shona village in the imposed colonial boundaries of former Rhodesia, now present day Zimbabwe, in which every Ndebele person would become a Shona person.
9. Joshua Nkomo must have recognised that the creation of ZANU effectively implied that the future direction of African politics in the imposed colonial boundaries of former Rhodesia, would decidedly be based on ethnic allegiance. It is also inconceivable that Nkomo did not recognise that the white colonialists would continue to exploit and exacerbate these ethnic divisions and allegiances for their own economic advantages. Yet, instead of fighting for a Ndebele state, Nkomo continued to falsely believe that he could build a multi-ethnic society based on the principles of peaceful co-existence and the rule of law.
10. Nkomo's expedient ideology of seeking to build a multi-ethnic society based on the principles of justice and freedom for all, took no account of the basic reality: that the creation of ZANU effectively implied that its Shona politicians wanted power at all cost, even if it meant inflaming ethnic passions as tactics to win the first and only free elections. Nkomo also surprisingly forgot that the concept of a nation-state of which served as the foundation for present day Zimbabwe, and which he fought for so long to preserve was formulated by white settler colonialists whom he fought against for more than three decades. Nkomo's basic weakness was his failure to understand the obvious: that nearly all post colonial states within Africa who had retained the concept of nation states as formulated by white settler colonialists, had inflicted genocide, ethnic cleansing, extra-judiciary murders, rapes, and disappearances against so-called powerless minority ethnic groups.
11. Nkomo's lack of self-confidence in fighting for the reestablishment of a Ndebele state was all the more baffling, given that he was both a towering political figure who had been transformed into an idol or living God by his Ndebele followers, and also a leader of a disciplined but fearsome guerrilla movement which was second to none in the whole of Southern Africa. Nearly all of the ZIPRA recruits and fighters were Ndebele people, and it was their formidable contribution in the liberation struggle which led to the demise of white colonial power in former Rhodesia. Yet Nkomo without hesitation whatsoever allowed ZIPRA's liberation gains against colonial power to account for virtually nothing.
12. This was vividly demonstrated by the 1980 elections which gave birth to the independence of present day Zimbabwe. These elections were decidedly determined on purely ethnic grounds by the so-called majority Shona ethnic group under the "winner-take-all" banner. In other words the Shona people had triumphed over the Ndebele people. And herein lay Nkomo's greatest weakness: his failure to grasp the simple truth - that the victory by ZANU-PF at the polls had essentially raised Shona ethnic nationalism to levels unprecedented in the history of both Shona and Ndebele peoples. That victory represented the first phase of ZANU-PF's intensions of establishing a Shona state that would extend to most fruits of political, social, economic and cultural life.
13. Nkomo must also have realised that it was in the nature of ethnic nationalism and rampant fundamentalism to conquer and dominate the whole country, through the creation and deployment of para-military forces (such as Gukurahundi) chosen exclusively from the ethnic group in power, and not bound by any military rules of conduct, with the specific objective of eliminating genuine concerns of so-called minority ethnic groups by committing genocide and ethnic cleansing. The fact that the entire Shona national executive members of ZAPU did not win even a single seat in the Mashonaland and Manicaland regions in the 1980 elections, should have convinced Nkomo to change course, but he did not.
14. This despite the fact that Nkomo knew very well that the election results were a massive cheat. These election results only confirmed what Robert Gabriel Mugabe already knew: that he would win fraudulently by 56 seats even before the elections had been held. But still Nkomo did not heed this warning. Mugabe's fraudulent victory at the polls effectively gave him a licence to kill the Ndebele people, and still Nkomo could not change course. It was this fundamental weakness on the part of Nkomo that, the Ndebele would from that time onwards experience the beginning and continuation of genocide and ethnic cleansing.
15. Mugabe's first pre-emptive strike against the Ndebele population was in November 1980 when he instructed ZANLA to destroy ZIPRA at Entumbane, Bulawayo. Mugabe's second attempt at destroying the Ndebele population was in 1981, again at Entumbane resulting in ZANLA being heavily defeated and driven out of Bulawayo by ZIPRA. Around the same time open skirmishes between ZANLA and ZIPRA also broke out in various integration camps throughout the country with ZIPRA forces emerging victorious. Having started the war and suffered defeat, Mugabe persuaded Nkomo to intervene and bring about a cessation to the hostilities.
16. Having failed in his two attempts to destroy ZIPRA, in August 1981 Mugabe brought into the country North Korean instructors to train and equip his private army, the Fifth Brigade or Gukurahundi. Not only was Nkomo aware of the arrival of the North Korean instructors, but he was also Home Affairs minister in Mugabe's government of national unity. Nkomo had no response to the sudden turn of events. He virtually did nothing, when he knew very well why the Fifth Brigade was being trained by North Korean instructors. Nkomo had the power and resources to leave the government specifically in order to challenge Mugabe, but he did not.
17. The Ndebele people are still baffled as to why Joshua Nkomo (as supreme commander of ZIPRA) proceeded voluntarily to disarm his forces in accordance to the Lancaster house settlement, whilst Mugabe was doing exactly the opposite: not complying with the Lancaster house settlement requirements, but instead training and arming his separate army, the Fifth Brigade or Gukurahundi.
18. Nkomo's failure to respond in kind to the training and arming of the Gukurahundi only exacerbated the demise of ZIPRA. By 1982 Mugabe was confident enough to accuse Nkomo of seeking to overthrow his regime. He described Nkomo as snake that had to be killed, after the discovery of Mugabe's arms caches which were planted on ZAPU owned properties. Nkomo knew that these charges from Mugabe were a lie, yet he did nothing to defend the not only himself but also the interests the Ndebele people at large.
19. In July 1982 Mugabe's regime abducted and killed six foreign tourists, and blamed this incident on Nkomo. Despite this international humilation, all Nkomo could do was to deny these trumped charges. Instead of recognising that Mugabe was out to destroy him, Nkomo continued to believe that Mugabe was an honourable man who would change his evil behavioral ways in time. But Mugabe did not. In order to prove that he was in reality, an ethnic Shona nationalist who was determined to achieve evil glory, Mugabe unleashed his most brutal carnage against the Ndebele people this century in early 1983.
20. The unleashing of the Gukurahundi thugs against the Ndebele population in Matebeleland and Midlands, should have convinced Nkomo to take a stand fight, but he did not. Had Nkomo instructed his followers to fight, instead of fleeing the country into exile, Mugabe's Gukurahundi would have severely been punished. They would have been routed and given no chance to retreat. There can be no doubt therefore that Gukurahundi was able to inflict genocide and ethnic cleansing because the Ndebele population had no means to defend themselves.
21. Surprisingly, Nkomo's response to this abominable genocide and ethnic cleansing against his Ndebele people was to sign the so-called unity accord. Nkomo may have reasoned that by signing this accord, he was saving the lives of his Ndebele followers, but the fact remains that it was an act of surrender which protected no Ndebele person. His signature only further worsened the suffering of the Ndebele people, this time under a one Shona party state. By signing the so-called unity accord, Nkomo had effectively signed away the rights of self-determination of the Ndebele people. Now that Nkomo has passed away from the face of this earth, so too has the so-called unity accord.
22. Nkomo will be remembered as someone who was an honest and truthful person who wanted a peaceful co-existence of all the people of present day Zimbabwe. Nkomo will also be remembered as a great leader who sacrificed everything to achieve the ideal of a unitary state system of Zimbabwe, even at the expense of the loss of life and perpetual persecution of his own Ndebele followers. In that sense Nkomo was a true Zimbabwean. But in the political landscape of politics in present day Zimbabwe, that was not good enough. It would be suicidal for the Ndebele people to follow Nkomo's ways.
23. It is absolutely vital that the Ndebele people seize the passage of Nkomo as a great opportunity of determining once and for all time their own survival on the face of this earth. It should be remembered that the Ndebele people were incapable of taking any independent political decisions towards self-determination when Nkomo was alive. Now that he is gone, it is high time that the Ndebele people served notice to the leaders of Shona ethnic nationalism that they too want power and self determination. The Ndebele people should shout loud and clear that they will oppose Shona hegemony at all cost.
24. In life there comes a time that a Ndebele people so aggrieved, so victimised, so ethnically cleansed and facing extinction for no other reason than their being, their humanity and their identity, must rise against any form of ethnic colonialism, fascism and hegemony based in Harare, using all the means at their disposal if only to ensure their basic survival, their lives and their way of life, threatened by a psychotic group of Shona ethnic nationalist who are determined to annihilate them. Clearly, the Ndebele people have now reached a stage (after approximately 20 years of unrelenting apathetic coma) where they can no longer remain silent and incapable of defending themselves in the face of this total Shona annihilation campaign and grave injustice.
25. The Ndebele people should be absolutely determined never ever to suffer genocide, ethnic cleansing, humiliation and a permanent indignity of being treated worse than dirt in their own historic indigenous land regions, which they the Ndebele people sacrificed for in the struggle against colonialism. The Ndebele people must be prepared to respond in kind to any violence directed against them by Shona ethnic nationalists. The Ndebele people should no longer watch in horror and disbelief (as Nkomo did) the slaughter of their own people without doing anything about it.
26 The Ndebele people do not need to apologise to anyone for being who they are. The Ndebele people should remember that the Shona ethnic nationalists are very experienced in the art of praising people only when they have died. The present boundaries of Zimbabwe were created by men. They are not permanent, they can be changed by men. Only death is a permanent condition. Who is to say that the Ndebele people cannot reclaim their historic Mthwakazi boundaries which comprised the Kingdom of Lobengula. Thina abeMAGGEMM 2000 sithi Mayihlome Mthwakazi, Bayethe Mthwakazi.
The next newsletter 4 will on the first preference demands: the Creation of a Ndebele State.
BAYETHE CAMPAIGN 2000 FOR THE RECLAIMING OF THE NATURAL RIGHTS TO LIFE, IDENTITY & EXISTENCE OF THE NDEBELE PEOPLE, RELINQUISHED BY ROBERT GABRIEL MUGABE'S ZANU PF REGIME FROM 1980 TO 1999
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