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‘We are not very far from Rwanda in 1994’ – CCC’s Biti on corrosive political divisions; hatred on social media

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By UK Correspondent


“If you look at the hatred on social media Mr. Speaker Sir, if you look at some of the things that are said in this Parliament – the language of hatred is so entrenched.”

ZIMBABWE could easily be engulfed in a deadly conflict on the scale of Rwanda’s 1994 Genocide which claimed more than 900,000 lives, opposition Citizens Coalition for Change (CCC) deputy leader, Tendai Biti, warned in parliament Tuesday.

“Politics, in Zimbabwe, is suffocating because it is politics of intolerance, durawalls and division.,” he said.

“Where you have such corrosive politics Mr. Speaker Sir, it is difficult to come up with a common division. It is politics of hatred, exclusion, intolerance, and regrettably Hon. Speaker Sir, 42 years after Independence, that politics is entrenched.”

The erstwhile coalition government finance minister added; “If you look at the hatred on social media Mr. Speaker Sir, if you look at some of the things that are said in this Parliament – the language of hatred is so entrenched.

“We are not very far from Rwanda in 1994.  Mr. Speaker Sir, you know what happened in Rwanda in 1994.”

Kenya example

Biti was speaking during debate on a report by Parliament’s Media Committee on its community radio legislation benchmarking visit to Kenya.

“One of the things you will see in Kenya confirmed by the report … they have their divisions, politics, political parties, and electoral coalitions which change every year Mr. Speaker,” he said.

“Who would have thought, Mr. Speaker, that in the last election, Raila Amolo Odinga fought President Uhuru Kenyatta but in 2022, President Uhuru Kenyatta is backing Raila Amolo Odinga against his own deputy, William Ruto?

“It is because their politics Mr. Speaker has transcended a certain level. They are able to speak the language of unified Kenya of one Kenya, one vision.

“We are not able to do that because we have never had forces that unite us as Zimbabweans and there is conflict and conflict.”

The country’s post-independence political environment has remained toxic due to disputed and often violent elections, human rights abuses as well as never-ending economic crises which have seen the majority surviving on the bread line.

Biti said there was need for a mindset change.

Names of country’s provinces

“So I submit Mr. Speaker Sir, that we need to re-calibrate our mindset, social and moral fabric, we need to restore a new social contract, a new consensus that we can see each other as Zimbabweans.

“It does not matter whether you are ZANU PF or not, it does not matter whether you are CCC or not, we learn to put Zimbabwe first but that has to start into communities that we live in, that has to start in the communities and villages that we stay – whether you are in Guruve, Dotito, Mukumbura, Chendambuya, Tsholotsho, Binga, Tjolotjolo – it has to start with that.”

He added; “Part of the problem of Zimbabwe is that for 42 years, we have not spoken; for 42 years, we have hijacked ourselves under the labels that we give ourselves, whether the labels of political parties, tribe or region and that is not good enough Mr. Speaker Sir, because it fertilises conflict and division.

“Part of the problem Mr. Speaker is the way we name our provinces. Why should we name our provinces Mashonaland East, Mashonaland West, Matabeleland? Why can we not say Northern Region, South Western region and so forth?

“Why do we create portals of division?  If you look at our national identity cards Mr. Speaker Sir, I am an R47 because I come from Murewa. Others like Rusty Markham are zero zero.

“Why should we be identified by the suffixes of our national identification cards? If you are a 63, it means something else, and if you are 52, it means something else.”