A group of Civil Society Organisations in Matabeleland under the Civil Society Organisations in Matabeleland banner have written to President Mnangagwa and several other international and local organisations including SADC and AU in protest to Monica Mtsvangwa’s tribalistic statement when she labelled Ndebeles the self-righteous minority a few days ago, New Zimbabwe.
The groups plead with President Mnangagwa’s government to stop insulting the Ndebele people and urged the president to resolve the myriad of woes troubling the country right now.
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In the lengthy letter in which the AU Commission Moussa Faki Mahamat, Mozambique President Filipe Nyusi the current SADC chair, Antonio Guterres United Nations Secretary-General, South African President Cyril Ramaphosa, who is also the Chairperson of the African Union were copied, the groups wrote:
We write to you as a cross-section of civil society in Matabeleland to express our grave concern on the deteriorating human rights situation in Zimbabwe, especially with regards to the surge in torture and abductions in general and threats directed against the Ndebele ethnic group in particular and to request that your office takes immediate and robust measures to avert a humanitarian disaster and a potential repeat of genocide as well as total collapse of the rule of law and constitutional safeguards
We have a government that practices outright and brazen tribalism. Lately, we are witnessing a well-orchestrated systemic marginalisation and discrimination of Ndebele people, general suppression and disregard of the political, civil, economic, social and cultural rights of ethnic and linguistic minorities, and an increase in a callous and targeted campaign of torture and violence against citizens in general in a way that demonstrates utter disregard of international law
The situation therefore needs your immediate attention and indeed your intervention. As civil society organisations, in our daily operations, we work on a range of issues and touch the lives of people in every way, including, but not limited to, gender and women’s empowerment, children’s rights, humanitarian aid, psychosocial support for victims of violence and torture, peace building, and advocacy on civil, political, economic, social, and cultural rights. We are thus alive to the sentiments on the ground.
Besides, our work places us as frontline workers in the struggles against poverty, hunger, and conflict and human rights abuses. Being on the ground makes us as civil society actors best placed to comment on the prevailing situation. Also, we are the first responders in human rights and humanitarian work,
The statement was not just hate speech or incitement of discrimination and hatred but borders on incitement to commit crimes against Ndebele people as a group. It is a fact that Archbishop Ndlovu had not signed the statement alone, but with six other non-Ndebele Catholic bishops. Neither did he sign as a Ndebele, nor on behalf of the Ndebele people but as a Bishop of the Catholic Church, for the Zimbabwe Catholic Bishops’ Conference.
However, the government statement attacked him personally based on his ethnicity and the Ndebele people in the vilest language. Archbishop Ndlovu was singled out for his membership in the Ndebele people as a group and was attacked as such,
The result is that the Matabeleland region today has the least access to education and has the highest school dropout and failure rates. The people of Matabeleland are systematically marginalised from economic resources, a situation that has relegated the Matabeleland region, where Ndebele people are largely found, being the centre of poverty, hunger, unemployment and diseases in Zimbabwe.
The government offered a follow-up statement to Mutsvangwa’s statement in question and labelled the pastoral letter from the Catholics Bishops divisive and offensive and never apologised for the rude remarks made by the information minister.
More: New Zimbabwe