A MOTION calling for the support of the national schools pledge by MPs left legislators in Zimbabwe’s upper house divided along tribal lines last week after Ndebele senators protested its failure to acknowledge the role of Ndebeles during the liberation war.
They were debating a motion by Mashonaland Central Senator Alice Chimbudzi which called for “unequivocal support” for the pledge.
However, Bulawayo Senator Tholakele Khumalo MP took moments to scorn Chimbudzi for making mention of Shona Chimurenga heroes and failing to acknowledge contributions by Ndebeles.
Khumalo said the national pledge advocated national unity but the mover of the motion left out Ndebeles.
“Most of our time, when we talk of the liberation of this country, we hear about Mbuya Nehanda, Kaguvi and Mukwati,” Khumalo said in Ndebele, adding that those in Mashonaland did not participate in the First Chimurenga because they were in the farms.
Khumalo was interrupted by points of order by Senators such as Mashonaland Central Senator Chief Daster Chisunga, Manicaland Senators Judith Mawire of and Shadreck Chipanga who felt she was dragging tribal issues into the motion.
Temporary President Charles Tawengwa also urged Khumalo to stick to the motion and not to “bring in regionalism and tribalism into the issue”.
But Ndebele MPs, among them Matebeleland North Senator Rosemary Nyathi and Matebeleland South Senator Sithembile Mlotshwa rose to defend her.
“We were united and we fought the white men," Khumalo continued, "Let us tell our children the truth and this is the truth. The Ndebeles and the Shonas fought the white men. Our children should be proud of that not to side line others.
“...We come to the 70s when we were fighting the white men, most of the time we hear of Chimoio as though some other people were not there. There was a Wankie war in 1966 which was fought by the Zimbabwe People’s Revolutionary Army (ZIPRA). Such history should be made known to our children- that ZIPRA fought in 1966 in Wankie. It was being led by John Dube and Chris Hani of African National Congress (ANC). All sides fought this war.
"I think we should remove Chimoio from the presentation which you gave. If it is possible, let us remove Chimoio because the insertion of that name makes us think of the other places which are not there.
"I am not the one who inserted Chimoio...Our children need to know both ways my friends; Chimoio and Sipolilo, Sipolilo war was fought in 1967 and the battle was between ZIPRA Forces and the Rhodesian Front. The National Anthem even says we should remember the blood of those who fought and that is why the flag has a red portion.
"I am saying, from now on, whenever you and I are talking, there should be no mention of the names Kaguvi, Mukwati or Mbuya Nehanda only, put others as well because they were part of this.”
Matebeleland South Senator Tambudzai Mohadi, a Venda, also felt the motion left out contribution by those from her tribe.
"If we start regionalising, if we start tribalism, where shall some of us stand because we are not Ndebeles and we are not even Shonas? Where then are we supposed to be because this country was not fought by Ndebeles and Shonas only. Everybody sacrificed in this war and what we are fighting for is that everything should be incorporated.
“...My father Sibanda fought the war and he died. I also want it to be inclusive so that I feel I am included in every decision of this country. I must not feel left out. This pledge is leaving me out.”
The national pledge which school children cite before lessons was introduced by government two years ago with the aim of instilling a sense of patriotism in youngsters.