THE tragedy is that socialisation is not only limited to a particular sphere of one’s life. Whilst some of us have spent the better part of our life declaring and professing our ultra-feminism, we sadly remain stuck in a particular paradigm.
It is that paradigm that sustains injustice and abuse in every sphere of life, it is a paradigm premised on the principle that playing the martyr in the face of abuse will convict and stop the abuse. Which explains why the majority of us women are constantly taught, if not trained, to continue to be “nice” to give sex, to cook, to try and be respectful and to be patient in the face of blatant abuse - “Silence is Golden” we are told.
Today, in a small way, I seek to challenge that paradigm, not because I believe that changing that paradigm will necessarily stop the abuse but I do it merely to name and shame and to refuse to be a sitting duck. I will put up a fight and most likely in doing so invite more abuse but that is a risk I am willing to take.
This article has been provoked by the discussions I have been part of, in particular in the so called civil society, of which, ironically, I am a product. It is as result of the newspaper articles I have read, particularly those from the so called “progressive” groups, the very ones that some of us spent night vigils at police stations in solidarity with colleagues that we believed had been unfairly arrested.
I have been shocked and dismayed at how the same individuals who yesterday preached honesty and the sanctity of treating people with dignity are themselves using the newly found “democratic” spaces to do exactly what they complained and marched against. I have watched how some of us have become worse enemies that those who supposedly traumatised them.
In amazement, I have listened to the same people wax hysterical on the illegitimacy of our being at the negotiating table to the extent that they now claim that the coalition government would have been more acceptable if the negotiations had been two-way: between Zanu PF and MDC T.
Insignificant as they claim we are, they also in the same vein hold us responsible for all that was lost at the table. Oblivious to the six signatures on the Kariba Draft, a falsehood is now fact that this was a Welshman Ncube and Patrick Chinamasa document. As I struggled with this paradox, I had a Damascene revelation, which explained this hatred, towards us. The revelation is that this is nothing but disguised tribalism.
The MDC is a thorn in the flesh of Shona supremacists because both in its form and content, it challenges the basic notion that the only group of people with the legitimate right to decide on the fate of Zimbabwe are Shona’s. In fact both Zanu PF and MDC-T in its choice of negotiators had made that clear. Of the four negotiators, all were Shona, for MDC T they made this clear by ensuring that whilst they originally had deployed a Ndebele, Lovemore Moyo, as a negotiator, mid-stream he was unceremoniously replaced by a Shona, which in fact meant that outside Welshman Ncube, the crafters of the Global Political Agreement both at principals’ level and at the negotiators’ level would all have been Shona.
The Principle of Collusion
History has proven that there is always collusion between an ethnic group in any African conflict with white external capital forces. That collusion is always not based on values or ideology, but is driven purely by the need to access and control resources.
Conflicts in Rwanda, DRC and Kenya are testimony to this collusion. In Zimbabwe, that collusion started in the pre-colonial era, in particular during the Lancaster House negotiations when white capital forces’ self-interest meant that between a Ndebele leader and a Shona, they stood to benefit more by a transition from Ian Smith to a Shona leader. This is explained by the support that Mugabe received in spite of earlier demonization -- a terrorist became the darling of the West.
It is that collusion which explains the silence of the same white capital forces during the Gukurahundi era. Is it not surprising that given the arrests of many political activists during that era, with some of them dying in prison, there wasn’t a single draft UN Security Council Resolution against the ZANU regime?
Is it not equally surprising that Morgan Tsvangirai’s arrests have earned him a confetti of awards and yet my Google search shows not a single award to Joshua Nkomo? It is, therefore, clear that whilst white capital now has issues with Mugabe, primarily over access to resources, they now seek to facilitate a transition that fits within the same framework where power can only be handed over to a Shona leader.
The white capital self-interest is not threatened by a transition from Mugabe to Tsvangirai or Simba Makoni or Emerson Mnangagwa or Joice Mujuru. It is only threatened by a leader who, by the very fact that he comes from a minority grouping, may not in their opinion have the capacity to give them that access.
It is this ethnic /white capital agenda that explains the viciousness with which Arthur Mutambara’s entry into Zimbabwe politics was received. For all his real and perceived crimes, his greatest crime is that he sold his soul to a supposedly dying Ndebele-driven party. For that, he will not be forgiven.
It is the same basis and reason that explains the abuse meted at Welshman Ncube. The lies and machinations that you see and can’t explain are from a majoritarian group that believes that only their tribe can hold a place of fame in the intellectual world. That a mere Ndebele has challenged the supremacy of the Shona tribe in the legal field is Welshman’s first problem. His second sin is that having been given the rare privilege, as a Ndebele, for the first time in the history of this country, to be Secretary-General of a “national” political party, he proceeded to be ungrateful and sought to bite the hand that fed him.
For many years, in the proverbial attitude of a battered wife, he had humiliated himself at all public fora declaring that he understood that a person born of a minority tribe could and should never aspire to be President. However, it is questioning Tsvangirai’s democratic credential s that earned him the full wrath of both the Shona supremacists and white capital.
White capital’s anger towards him was driven by the fact that he threatened their well-planned and orchestrated transition. One now understands why white capital, during the split, came out in full support of Tsvangirai in spite of him having violated the principles and values they claim to stand for. It is that collusion that explains the mega resources deployed in Matabeleland in the guise of forming Human Rights Organisations. ‘Welshman and his Ndebele grouping’ had to be obliterated (refer to WikiLeaks-Christopher Dell’s Comments on Welshman Ncube) and they almost were. Interestingly, no such resources were ever given to that region at the height of the Gukurahundi era.
The current dynamics in the party prior to its congress have attracted such massive interest. One wonders why a party supposedly hit by so many defections, and whose relevance, it is claimed, is a few of its leadership holding-by-stealth public office, can generate such interest.
The ruptures and factions in our party, it is also claimed, have apparently reached such proportions that they have become subjects for diplomatic briefs, opinions pieces and civic conversations and yet parties like Mavambo that have had major ruptures are hardly subjects for debate.
Dare I say that all this can only be explained as a deep-seated secret fear that perhaps, just perhaps, one could wakeup with a Ndebele president.
As I said at the beginning of the article, naming and shaming may not stop the abuse but at least now when dirt is thrown at that ethnic group or at those that are seen to represent it, We, born in Ndebele wombs, can stand up and say: WE SAW, WE HEARD and WE SPOKE.
Priscilla Misihairabwi-Mushonga is the Deputy Secretary General of the MDC