Racism, tribalism and regionalism have no place in a New Zimbabwe

“Don’t care where you come from
As long as you’re a black man, you’re an African
No mind your nationality
You have got the identity of an African

‘Cause if you come from Clarendon (you are an African)
And if you come from Portland (you are an African)
And if you come from Westmoreland, you’re an African

So don’t care where you come from
As long as you’re a black man, you’re an African
No mind your nationality
You’ve got the identity of an African.”
THE above – quoted lyrics from the iconic and flamboyant reggae maestro, Peter Tosh’s hit song “African” have found a permanent place in my heart; especially when it comes to my African identity in particular and to black consciousness in general.
Let me hasten to add that I passionately loathe and abhor all forms of discrimination, including but certainly not limited to, tribalism, regionalism, racism and sexism. Each time I hear people
speaking disparagingly of other ethnic and racial groups, my blood runs cold. I am not only a citizen of Zimbabwe; I’m also a citizen of Africa. Indeed, I’m also a global citizen.
Successive colonial governments in the then Southern Rhodesia and later on Rhodesia, played the tribal and racist card in order to divide the people of this mighty country. Different ethnic groups were deliberately set up against one another in order to divert their attention and focus from the hazards of racist colonial subjugation and exploitation.
Even the names that were given to our provinces were keenly suggestive of a tribal and divisive
agenda. It still boggles the mind that more than thirty-six (36) years after independence, we still have provinces known as Mashonaland West, Mashonaland East, Mashonaland Central, Manicaland, Matebeleland North and Matebeleland South.
Let me use the opportunity presented to me by writing this opinion piece to passionately call for the immediate renaming of these particular provinces. Surely, as a nation, we should be able to come up with names that do not have a tribal and ethnic connotation. For example, Manicaland province can appropriately be renamed the Eastern Province and Matebeleland South province can be renamed South Western province.
Zimbabwe is a unitary republic. The Constitution of Zimbabwe provides for the creation of provincial councils under the concept of devolution. Devolution is a progressive concept that should never, ever be confused with the backward and divisive concepts of tribalism and
regionalism. We can never be able to build a strong, peaceful and united nation state in Zimbabwe if we continue to nurture the primitive practices of tribalism, racism and regionalism.Advertisement

In my own small way, I have made it a practice at my law practice that all our recruitment should never be based on the basis of tribalism, regionalism and racism. Accordingly, it is taboo
for any job applicant, during an interview, to be asked which part of the country one hails from. We deliberately focus on the strength of a job applicant’s professional qualifications and relevant job experience as a key guide in our law firm recruitment policy.
The evils of tribalism, racism and regionalism are still rampant in Zimbabwe. This is most tragic and disappointing. Upon attaining independence in April, 1980, the new government should have deliberately put in place a policy where all the country’s major languages are taught in all schools nationwide. School pupils in Masvingo province, for instance, should have had
an opportunity to study subjects such as Ndebele, Shangaan, Venda etc.
In similar measure, school pupils in Nkayi and Tsholotsho should have been afforded an opportunity to study Shona, Kalanga etc. The argument that this exercise would be costly and thus, unaffordable, doesn’t hold any water at all. The main challenge that we have had in this country is that, somehow, we have always concentrated on pursuing issues that divide instead of dwelling on those issues that unite us.
In addition, our government has got a penchant for spending huge sums of money purchasing expensive motor vehicles for Cabinet Ministers and other top government bureaucrats. It is respectfully submitted that the State can easily afford adopting a unifying language policy for our primary and secondary schools as long as we sort out our priorities.
The corruption allegations that were recently leveled against the Minister of Higher & Tertiary Education, Science & Technology, Jonathan Moyo, were very instructive regarding the downside of tribalism and regionalism. When he faced with these damning allegations of sleaze and graft in his ministry, involving Zimdef money, Moyo promptly pulled out the tribal card and started complaining that he was being targeted for arrest by some senior Zanu PF politicians who were out to have him arrested and prosecuted simply because he is a Ndebele!
When I confronted Jonathan Moyo on the microblogging social media platform, Twitter, to have him provide his substantive response to the criminal allegations against him, Moyo spared no
time in falsely and maliciously branding me a Karanga tribalist who was now pushing the same agenda as his perceived political detractors in Zanu PF. How low could Jonathan Moyo sink?
Of course, the fact of the matter is that I am just a passionate anti – corruption and social justice activist who doesn’t push any tribal agenda. At any rate, I’m not and have never been
a member of Zanu PF and as such, I have absolutely no business getting myself entangled in the ongoing factional cataclysm in the imploding Zanu PF.
We can and indeed, we should build a progressive and democratic nation state in Zimbabwe. The politics of tribalism, regionalism and racism belong to yesterday. We have to move forward and position our beloved motherland where it rightfully belongs i.e. the jewel of Africa.
Gutu is the MDC national spokesperson. He is also a corporate lawyer and social justice activist based in Harare. He writes this opinion piece in his personal capacity.