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  • Writer's picturerutendo matinyarare


We keeping hearing the claim that Ndebeles are marginalized in Zimbabwe, but what I would like to know is who is systematically marginalizing the Ndebele people and how in a county where we all had and have the same opportunities?

Let me make an illustration, as we speak, one of the the most powerful men in Zanu Pf is a Ndebele man by the name Obert Mpofu. In the presidium, one of our Vice Presidents is Ndebele and he is flanked by Mthuli Ncube our finance minister, arguably one of the most influential men in the country. The chief justice is Luke Malaba, while numerous of our defense chiefs, judges and ministers are of the same "marginalized" ethnic stock.

In the private sector, our education system has produced high fliers like the former MTN South Africa CEO: Sifiso Dabengwa (worth over $200mil); Peter Moyo former CEO of Old Mutual SA; Chemist Siziba, one of the pioneers of cellular networking in Zimbabwe and a founding member (Chairman) of IBDC; Delma Lupepe, business man and investor who had a City of Harare contract for refuse collection, just to mention a few.

I myself am Manyika, I grew up in Harare where most of my authority figures were Ndebele, a fact I never really paid attention to, until the perception that Ndebeles are marginalized became a recurring myth.

So, now that we are discussing this, I'm sitting here wondering how in a country where Ndebeles are 20% of the population, almost all the men and women in charge of the institutions I went through in my first 23yrs in Zimbabwe, were Ndebele, if Ndebeles are marginalized?

Here is a picture of my early life:

• I started primary school in 1981 and my grade one teacher was Ndebele, in a school where the head master and other teachers were white, Indian and colored. • The only other black teachers I had in primary school were my grade 6 teacher: Kelvin Mutume, and my grade 7 teacher: Mr Masuku, who was Ndebele. • My High School had an Indian Head Master, white Deputy Head who then went to found Gateway and the next in line was a Ndebele Head Mistress (or head of the girls) by the name Ms Mhlanga. • My A'levels were done at a private college owned by Skanyiso Ndlovu. • I got 6 points for my A'level, which were just not good enough to get me into the UZ or NAST, where Ndebele kids with better marks than me, made it on merit. It's important to stress here that the reason I didn't make it into vasity was not because I was Manyika, it was because my marks were not good enough in the face of competition from the thousands of other students, most less privileged than me, who had better marks. • On leaving school, my first job was at a hotel in Harare. My director was Ms Ngwenya, while my immediate boss was F&B Manager Dumisani Moyo, both Ndebele. • After working under Mr Moyo, I was inspired to study Hotel Management, so I applied to Bulawayo Polytech which was the only institution offering the course. I went for an interview at the Poly, where I sat in front of a predominantly Ndebele panel and failed to make it. Never did I think that I failed to get a place because I was Manyika, but I believed that there were possibly more qualified people who got one of the less than 50 places. • On that same note, it's important to note that the only science university in the country was also in Bulawayo, the land of the so called "marginalized". • My second job was as a marketing assistant at Business Equipment Corporation where my boss was a UZ graduate by the name of Mr Mpofu, I forget his first name. • Some of our biggest sales at BEC were supplying office furniture and machinery to Netone, other supplies to a company owned by the previously mentioned Chemist Sizba and some to Mawere's African Resource. These deals made many of our sales guys (a number of whom were Ndebeles) a lot of money. • I was then fired for crashing my company car and only then did I meet my first shona manager in my third job at Tyre Treads, before leaving Zimbabwe for South Africa.

As you can see, all my life in Harare, Ndebele people were my superiors and I never really realized this fact until now that I have been driven to assess the claim that Ndebeles are marginalized in Zimbabwe.

Now, can someone explain to me as a Manyika man who lived in Harare for 23yrs, how it was statistically possible for over 80% of the people in authority over the institutions I attended, to have been Ndebele [who constitute 20% of the population], if they were marginalized in Zimbabwe? I'm tempted to undertake a regression analysis on my case study to scientifically weigh if Ndebeles are really marginalized in our country.

Just in case you consider my circumstances as a biased sample, let's go into our politics. Zanu Pf has a 20-22% component of Ndebele deployees in government. Our leading opposition MDC is led by a Ndebele lady with many more Ndebeles like Welshman Ncube, Job Sikala and others occupying very prominent positions in opposition parties which commit treason by calling for sanctions upon the 80% majority Shona nation, without retribution from the people who are supposedly systematically marginalizing Ndebeles.

How is this possible if Ndebeles are marginalized? Where did these mostly Ndebele lawyers, get the education and skill that have enabled them to compete at such a high level in a country where they are supposedly marginalized?

Would these fellow citizens have these positions if Shonas had taken the tribalist view that positions in Harare and all other cities outside Matebeleland should only employ Shonas [80% of the population] as Ndebeles are proposing for Matebeleland?

Then finally, on my last trip to Zimbabwe, I took some Romanian tourists who wanted to see the Great Zimbabwe and Victoriafalls, through Zimbabwe by road.

On our way from the sacred shrine of Masvingo, we drove through Bulawayo and it's sad to say, it was an eyesore. Flats, high rise buildings, industrial premises and houses owned by private individuals were dilapidated and in disrepair, yet the owners of those buildings collect rentals every month.

That same year or the year before, I remember a Nandos collapsing on patrons in Bulawayo city center, killing and maiming a number of people, yet the franchise was paying a premium in rentals to the building management. Why is this the case? Is this neglect of Bulawayo by Bulawayo business people, residents and those who grew up there, what Ndebeles refer to as marginalization?

Do my former Ndebele bosses and authority figures pay rates, taxes and invest in Bulawayo to improve it for other Ndebeles?

Have figureheads like Mthuli, Malaba, Sikala, Ncube, Moyo, Lupepe, Siziba and Sibanda reinvested in the former schools that gave them their educational foundation, to improve them for future generations?

Have the Ndebele executives who are flying high on Zimbabwean education in the diaspora, returned what was invested in them by our government which they purport marginalizes them, and are they giving back to their communities to develop other Ndebeles?

Are the Ndebele billionaire executives giving back to their former schools and communities to ensure that Matebeleland is improving for future generations? Do they market Matebeleland or like Sifiso Dabengwa and Peter Moyo are they the biggest demarketers of Zimbabwe now that they have used Zimbabwean foundational education, to buy themselves South African nguni status?

I just want to tell the Ndebele people that national economies are built by private citizens, their savings, home biased investments, innovations, collaboration, taxes and charity. You have to build your home and stop being like Mthuli Ncube who manages our treasury and takes a fat purse back to his family in Switzerland, as if he was a colonial administrator.

If Matebeleland and as a result Ndebeles are lagging behind, its a reflection on Ndebeles and their lack of care for where they came from.

If people in Matebeleland don't invest, pay tax and innovate in Matebeleland to turn it into home sweet home, then who must invest and pay taxes in Matebeleland for them, me from Manicaland or Mashonaland?

The same applies to all Zimbabweans, but I chose to home in on Ndebeles because they are the only people in Zimbabwe who see tribal persecution in their own failure to invest in themselves. Failures resulting from their apathy for their country, which they see as a Shona country because it's led by a Shona leader. Change Metebele, Change! Let's build our nation and stop looking for a false basis for Mthwakazi secession.

Rutendo Bereza Matinyarare ZUAUWS (Zimbabweans Unite Against US War Sanctions).

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