The Zimbabwe Deputy Minister of Informatio, Publicity and Broadcasting Services Mr Energy Mutodi has labelled minority Ndebele people who occupy the western side of Zimbabwe as migrants and refugees in the country.
On the 3rd of September 2019 Mutodi posted a video on the xenophobic attacks currently happening in South Africa. In his video he says:
“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.”
Mutodi’s sentiments are incorrect and misguided in a number of ways:
- Firstly, Zimbabwe never accommodated thousands of South Africans in 1836 because in 1836 there was never a Zimbabwe and never a South Africa. Whilst it is true that the people of Matabeleland left present day South Africa in 1836 being led by Mzilikazi and fleeing Tshaka, it is historically and factually incorrect to say they left South Africa and were accommodated by Zimbabwe because there were no national borders and boundaries. Boarders came in as a result of the partitioning of Africa which began around 1884/5.
- Secondly, Ndebeles were not accommodated in the western area of Zimbabwe. They inhabited the area because there was no government to accommodate them.
The statements by Mutodi confirm the arguments by people of Matabeleland that they are systematically marginalized and treated as second class citizens in Zimbabwe.
Members of Parliament raised the issue in Parliament on the 4th of September where the Minister of Information downplayed it. Some senior ZANUPF people from Matabeleland have also complained but there is still no drastic action by the Zimbabwean government to discipline Mutodi over the statements.