Tribalism undercurrents bubbling under the surface

Tribalism undercurrents bubbling under the surface
Published: 11 August 2017 (191 Views)
IF there is anything terribly ominous and disturbing about President Robert Mugabe's current succession power struggle tearing Zanu-PF asunder, it is not just the involvement of the military, but also tribalism undercurrents bubbling under the surface.

The problem has always been there in local politics and in Zanu-PF internal dynamics, but it is now threatening to erupt as the party's leaders and power brokers retreat to their tribal and regional laagers, despite strategic and expedient cross-ethnic alliances, to secure power.

Actually, tribalism has been there since time immemorial. Colonialism made a bad situation worse as settler regimes sought to ethically divide and manipulate people to rule them. But the divide-and-rule strategy was also sadly adopted by nationalists and independent Zimbabwe rulers to gain power.

Mugabe has late been grumbling about this problem at the Zanu-PF Youth League interface rallies around the country. He first spoke about it in Marondera in June and then mentioned it in Chinhoyi last week. It is clearly bothering him, although he is also one of the architects of ethnic state formation and tribal politics in post-independent Zimbabwe.

In fact, building an ethnic state architecture and allowing tribal politics to be one of his methods of securing, maintaining and retaining power — controlling the power matrix through identity politics - is one of Mugabe's biggest failures.

However, Mugabe is now playing victim to manage the situation. He is protesting some people are saying it is now time for Karangas to take over from Zezurus, his own ethnic group. Indeed, there is such an undercurrent in Zanu-PF.

There is also the "Zezuru unconquerable" spirit, which is equally unhelpful. Add to that deep feelings of marginalisation in regions like Matabeleland and Manicaland; you have an ethnic political powder-keg. The party is now a cauldron of ethnic politics.

The problem is Mugabe and Zanu-PF are not discussing the issue openly and honestly. Admittedly, it is an unsavoury subject; it smacks of primitive and village politics, yet it's a harsh reality not just in Zanu-PF, but also in other political parties.

It is a cancer in our national life in general. Since it is a threat to nation-building and cohesion, it needs to be confronted and rooted out. Keeping quiet or ignoring the problem, hoping it will just disappear, is delusional. Constructive debate and nuanced engagement, not irresponsible polemics, are important to find a way forward.

Previously, opposition leaders Morgan Tsvangirai and Tendai Biti spoke about the need for "de-Zezurunisation" of the state — which was rather reckless — but that manifested their inner feelings.

That is not how the issue must be engaged; there are more civilised ways of dealing with it without demonising each other and driving the country down the dangerous path of Rwanda, Burundi, DRC, Kenya, Sudan, Somalia and Nigeria, among many other African countries ravaged by ethnic contradictions and strife.

In this region, there are ethnic tensions and rivalries everywhere, some rooted in ancient history. It is a fight for power and resources, worsened by colonial borders — the lines of longitude and latitude drawn without due regard to history, language and culture.

Colonial state-formation left Africa's fundamental social reality disfigured and the continent sitting on a geo-ethnic volcano.

Currently, virtually every African conflict has some ethno-regional dimension to it. After independence some African leaders — from Kwame Nkrumah, Julius Nyerere, Kenneth Kaunda to Mugabe — denounced tribalism as divisive, some with forked tongues of course, and sought to enforce a mythical homogeneity amid diversity.

Some banned regional parties, yet others co-opted ethnic groups through opportunistic distribution of posts, jobs and development projects — patronage.

That is Mugabe's formula — cronyism-driven co-option rather than a strategic approach and viable meritocracy-based model.

Zanu-PF needs to resolve the succession issue in the national interest and common good, not in the interest of tribes and regions.

Tribalism is just wicked and unsustainable. It must stop.

- the independent

 0

You May Like These Videos

Comments

There are no comments.

Latest stories

Bushiri arrest story an internet hoax

by Maynard Manyowa | 20 January 2018 | 53 Views

Consumers raise concern over high levels of Service Charge

by Givestar Kamuzonde | 20 January 2018 | 49 Views

Sex workers bash peeping Tom

by Simbarashe Sithole | 20 January 2018 | 58 Views

Britain's female prime ministers sensible, says Mnangagwa

by Staff Reporter | 20 January 2018 | 61 Views

Mugabe wanted Mnangagwa assassination to look like suicide

by Staff Reporter | 20 January 2018 | 59 Views

Grace Mugabe's 3 supercars crash in Botswana, badly damaged

by Staff reporter | 20 January 2018 | 174 Views

Dabengwa named in new Eskom board

by Staff reporter | 20 January 2018 | 116 Views

How to 'unsend' an accidental WhatsApp message

by Staff reporter | 20 January 2018 | 106 Views

Former Zimbabwe expert appointed SABC COO - reports

by Staff reporter | 20 January 2018 | 77 Views

Zimbabweans urged to rally behind Mnangagwa's 'coup' govt

by Staff reporter | 20 January 2018 | 69 Views

Overcoming Temptation

by Tendai Tagarira | 20 January 2018 | 56 Views

Matebeles too alert to fall for the so called "New Era"

by Wilson Mahlafuna and Khohliso Maqhoba | 20 January 2018 | 63 Views

Build Zimbabwe launches manifesto

by Staff reporter | 20 January 2018 | 64 Views

'Bloody Zanu-PF, MDC primary elections loom'

by Staff reporter | 20 January 2018 | 63 Views

Ex-CIO agent takes DG to court over dismissal

by Staff reporter | 20 January 2018 | 72 Views

Mushowe to meet his match in 2018 elections

by Staff reporter | 20 January 2018 | 74 Views

Why did Rita Makarau resign from ZEC?

by Staff reporter | 20 January 2018 | 79 Views

Tsvangirai mourns Roy Bennett

by Staff reporter | 20 January 2018 | 59 Views

Mthwakazi threatens Mnangagwa's ZRP over rallies ban

by Staff reporter | 20 January 2018 | 46 Views

Gutu threatening to derail MDC Alliance

by Staff reporter | 20 January 2018 | 57 Views

Zanu PF youths call for Mohadi's wife's ouster

by Staff Reporter | 20 January 2018 | 67 Views

Cholera hits Zimbabwe, 4 die in Chegutu

by Staff Reporter | 20 January 2018 | 54 Views

WATCH: 6 people burnt beyond recognition in kombi crash

by Simbarashe Sithole | 20 January 2018 | 141 Views

Dont blame Trump, blame African leaders!

by Albert Madya | 20 January 2018 | 68 Views

Mzembi takes a rest from politics

by Staff Reporter | 20 January 2018 | 90 Views

'Tsvangirai risks a disgraceful exit'

by Staff reporter | 20 January 2018 | 53 Views

Sangoma 'cures' cancer

by Staff reporter | 20 January 2018 | 54 Views

Doctors threaten to go on strike

by Staff reporter | 20 January 2018 | 45 Views

Mwazha pastor gets 11 years for rape

by Staff reporter | 20 January 2018 | 41 Views

Soldiers, police for vendors blitz

by Staff reporter | 20 January 2018 | 43 Views

'New Zimbabwe is coming'

by Staff reporter | 20 January 2018 | 42 Views

Mnangagwa's police ban MDC Alliance rally

by Staff reporter | 20 January 2018 | 38 Views

Bosso chairmanship race takes a new twist

by Staff reporter | 20 January 2018 | 64 Views

'Zimbabwe to honour property rights'

by Staff reporter | 20 January 2018 | 32 Views

Sir Wicknell now a dad

by Staff reporter | 20 January 2018 | 35 Views

Mnangagwa buys Tsvangirai

by Staff reporter | 20 January 2018 | 40 Views

Gutu, Biti tussle for Parliament seat

by Staff reporter | 20 January 2018 | 42 Views

Mnangagwa invites UN, EU

by Staff reporter | 20 January 2018 | 40 Views