“Mutodi sits with Ndebele people in Zanu PF and Parliament, does he tell them they are illegal in Zimbabwe?”
Information Deputy Minister, Energy Mutodi, has stoked ethnic tensions and divisions in the country after suggesting the Ndebele people were refugees who settled in Zimbabwe after running away from King Tshaka in the early 1800s.
King Tshaka was a warrior and influential monarch of the Zulu Kingdom that dominated southern Africa.
Prone to making controversial statements, the deputy minister made another ‘blunder’ while asking South Africa to stop the xenophobic attacks on migrants but emulate other African countries that had opened their borders to other nationals.
In a video he posted on his twitter account Tuesday afternoon, Mutodi said:
“For South Africa, you will find that here in Zimbabwe, if you didn’t know, just about 1836 we accommodated thousands of South Africans who came into Zimbabwe fleeing from (King) Shaka, and they were being led by Mzilikazi.
“They settled on the western parts of the country, in Matabeleland. As I am speaking right now, at least three million Zimbabweans have South African origin.”
Immediately after publishing that video clip, his sentiments drew widespread condemnation, with opinion leaders, commentators and locals labeling his sentiments as provocative and a threat to national unity.
“It’s not surprising coming from a member of Zanu PF. It merely confirms suspicions of an ethnic hegemony promoted by Zanu PF. What’s alarming is the courage to say it out and openly especially these days when ethnic tensions are rising in the country.
“It’s also unfortunate to President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s re-engagement mantra that members of his cabinet shoot off their mouths,” said social analyst Patrick Ndlovu.
He added that Mutodi’s reckless statement showed his ignorance as far as the country’s history is concerned.
“Mutodi is spewing forth the (former education minister and historian, Aeneas) Chigwedere Zimsec half truths (who is accused of fabricating history that was taught in schools).
“When Mzilikazi came into this country the remnants of Monomotapa (known as the Mutapa Kingdom) had been swept away by King Zwangendaba (leader of the Nguni) on his way to Zambia. Before then the kingdom had torn itself apart on the factions that even today characterise Shona led organisations.
Ndlovu also quipped that even the people collectively referred to as Shona are not the original settlers of this country.
“They come from the great lakes region and fled slave Trade on the East coast of Africa to come and settle on this land,” he said.
A cultural activist based in Canada, who in 2018 walked from Bulawayo to Harare and back, raising awareness on Ndebele culture, Thabo Siziba, said the deputy minister had to be schooled on the history of the Mthwakazi people, as he had no knowledge about them.
He also added that Mutodi must also be taught history of his Shona ancestry to appreciate how Zimbabwe was formed.
“It’s a shame that you (Mutodi) even looked so confident as you make your ignorant uneducated statement. This is the most ignorant uneducated African politician to ever grace Zimbabwe. He has no idea what he is talking about and has shown intensive stupidity as a Zimbabwean official. One wonders where his half learned colleagues are to educate him on the origin of Shona people too,” Siziba said.
ZAPU national spokesperson, Iphithule Maphosa, weighed in that Mutodi’s sentiments and false historical narrative were detrimental to the country, as they would further divide the Ndebele and Shona while perpetuating the hegemony of one tribe.
Infact, Maphosa argued that the only people who should lay claim on the land are the Khoi San who were in the country first before all other tribes settled in Zimbabwe.
“Mutodi and any other person who believes such hogwash, is a mad supremacist who was lied to by his ignorant parents that the Shona people are owners of the land called Zimbabwe,” he said.
“This is not only his stupid belief but that of his party and the president who appointed a rhumba dancer into government (referring to Mutodi’s singing days before he entered politics). It is Zanu PF policy that Ndebele people are not Zimbabweans as depicted by the genocide they carried on them between 1982 and 1987.”
Critical Studies scholar and analyst, Khanyile Mlotshwa, highlighted that there was something ahistorical and anti-history about Mutodi’s sentiments, which was disappointing for an individual who held public office.
“When the Ndebele people arrived in what today is Matabeleland, there was no Zimbabwe. It is hard to follow the thinking patterns of the minister and what his intentions are. In his non-thought, as expressed in that video, three million Zimbabweans are stateless. He sits with Ndebele people in Zanu PF and Parliament, does he ever tell them they are illegal in Zimbabwe?”