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Mugabe is pan-Africanism’s worst enemy

By Philani Amadeus Nyoni

Zimbabwe’s president, Robert Mugabe, is well-known as a pan-African icon. However Waza blogger, Philani Nyoni, believes that this reputation is undeserved.

President Robert Mugabe
President Robert Mugabe

If Africa is committed to PAN Africanism, they did not show it by making Robert Mugabe chair of the AU.

Well, we know it was a revolving position; but we down here in Zimbabwe got so excited about it like he had won an election. Pity, it probably would have been the first legitimate election he ever won.

The first maxim in nation-building is that ‘for a nation to arise tribes must die’. Unless a bunch of people, collectively decide ‘look, this collection of sorts is worth more than a tribe; unless we can agree that our best interest lie in being Zimbabwean and not Tonga or Ndebele,’ then we cannot build a nation.

No ‘pure’ nation

In the same way, what we call Shona in Zimbabwe is actually a collection of about five ethnic groups: Zezuru, Korekore, Manyika, Karanga and Ndau.

The Ndebele themselves are not a ‘pure’ breed. Historically, there were the Hole, aBenhla, aMaNguni -depending on which part of the nation’s history the people ‘became’ Ndebele.

Today, the Kalanga are also regarded as Ndebele, and one would be forgiven for believing the Ndebele and Shona are the only two ethnic groups in Zimbabwe.

This quagmire is not uniquely Zimbabwean. Nelson Mandela, a great Pan Africanist himself, had a vision of creating a Rainbow Nation out of at least eleven different ethnic groups.

That is the blueprint of Pan Africanism: tribes must first be united into a nation despite their differences before we can unite a continent.

Failure at home

If Mugabe cannot unite his own tribes, how can he contend with the various differences across Africa, couple that with religion and tradition?

Mugabe is the last person able to integrate different ethnic groups into a nation. His interests are not in building a diverse nation.

Mugabe opened his reign of Zimbabwe with bloodshed, a genocide known as the Gukurahundi which wiped out over 20 000 Ndebele (a conservative official figure, considering the government is still in denial it occurred. Exiled leader of the Mthwakazi Liberation Front, once presidential hopeful Paul Siwela puts the figure at 40 000).

The Ndebele were then only 17% of the national population. Mugabe’s only words on the issue have been that it was ‘a moment of madness,’ without elaborating which cow was afflicted.

Terrible remarks

Last year, his wife made terrible remarks about Ndebele people; not once, but twice within a week.

In Bulawayo, residents walked out and she divined they were afflicted by an evil spirit, a ‘gamatox spirit’ in her very words.

In Gwanda, high ranking members of her party clapped while she insulted their people as only good for impregnating girls and travelling to South Africa.

I don’t think she realised that the social scourges she branded those people with are common symptoms of poverty; a direct product of the Mugabe government policy.

Patronizing patriotism

This somewhat ties in to my second point on nation-building, a lesson we shall draw from a terrible human being but great nation builder: Adolf Hitler, who writes in Mein Kampf:

“Does our bourgeoisie not often rise in moral indignation when it learns from the mouth of some wretched tramp that he does not care whether he is a German or not; that it is all the same to him so long as he has enough to keep him alive?’

Without economic balance, patriotism becomes a patronising notion. As long as some parts of the country remain impoverished due to misappropriation of national resources, the concept of Zimbabwe remains a myth, and this will apply for any country.

A hungry man has no flag. Hitler puts it like this: ‘the question of nationalising a people is first and foremost one of creating healthy social conditions as a foundation for the possibility of educating the individual’.

Blame game

In his latest tribal spate, Mugabe accused the Kalanga people who come from the Matabele region (who were also victims of his massacre) as uneducated criminal crop in Johannesburg. Was he endorsing xenophobia?

More shamefully, did he not realise that all he accused those people of, is a direct result of his mis-rule?

If your citizens are not educated and are flying off the other countries to survive, how is it their fault? In any case, Mugabe was seriously misguided; there are a great deal of successful Kalanga people both at home and abroad.

But he does not care about those, no, we who have seen his works no longer concern ourselves with what he says; the Pan-African hogwash.

We know he is just trapped in a matrix of power; and as long as men like Obasanjo (who came into power by means of a coup) are in charge of monitoring democratic elections, it is understandable why the worst enemy of Pan-Africanism can head the African Union.

We are all just playing roles after all; aren’t we?

This article was first published on Waza Online. They are proud to feature as part of their content, local bloggers who have a knack for expressing their unique perspectives, independent thoughts and engaging stories. The opinions expressed here are those of the author.