MDC-T national executive member, Eddie Cross, has reportedly torched a tribal storm in Matabeleland region after he insinuated in an opinion piece that Ndebele political leaders were divisive and viciously opposed to the MDC Alliance.
By NQOBANI NDLOVU
Cross in an opinion titled Are our tribal roots still relevant?, accused “Ndebele leaders” of being a threat to the formation of the opposition parties’ coalition pact to challenge President Robert Mugabe and Zanu PF in next year’s crunch polls.
“It has not been an easy road to walk, Ndebele interests always wanted special recognition and representation and the influence of tribal affiliation is found in all areas of the country — Chipinge with the Ndau for example. Now suddenly the spectre of Ndebele nationalism is raising its head again — a new “king” has been sworn in (the first in a 100 years), a new alliance is proposed between various Ndebele and Zulu-dominated groups.
“Ndebele leaders in both Tendai Biti’s (People’s Democractic Party (PDP) and the (Morgan Tsvangirai-led) MDC-T are demanding special treatment and threatening to coalesce around a new separatist Ndebele/Kalanga leadership,” Cross wrote.
“This is very dangerous and retrogressive and I hope the MDC Alliance will reject this initiative and maintain its historical stance; devolved power and control within a unitary State is the only way forward. Anything else can only take us backward.”
His remarks were in response to recent divisions that have rocked the MDC-T and PDP over the formation of the MDC Alliance, culminating in the expulsion of party leader Tendai Biti last week.
The MDC-T has had its share of problems over the unveiling of the MDC Alliance, with MDC-T opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai and his deputy Thokozani Khupe at loggerheads over the coalition deal with other opposition parties.
Incidentally, the resistance to the MDC Alliance has been loud in Matabeleland, and Cross’ comments have drawn the ire of regional analysts, who accused him of propagating “colonial propaganda that Whites came to save Shonas from Ndebeles”.
“Cross is showing bias because there are always two sides of the coin. He deliberately chooses to see Ndebele/Kalanga interests.
Again how are Ndebele/Kalanga interests derailing the coalition? To be honest if we look at demographics of Zimbabwe that put the population of Matabeleland at around 20%, it means Cross and his party should logically win the national election without the Matabeleland vote but what’s the situation on the ground?” questioned commentator Mlungusi Dube.
“MDC-T is getting over 40% of its support from the same group of people, they are criticising. And again look at Eddie Cross propagating colonial propaganda that Whites came to save Shonas from Ndebeles … I would expect the MDC-T to weed out unrepentant Rhodesians like Eddie Cross.”
Former PDP Bulawayo spokesperson Fortune Mlalazi said the comments were offensive and insulting to the Ndebele and Kalanga groupings.
“His utterances are offensive and insulting to Ndebele people. His over-zealousness about the MDC Alliance makes him think that by projecting injustice and identity which has been deliberately suppressed heavily by Zanu PF, Ndebeles are being primitive,” he said.
“When certain quarters express reservations about the MDC Alliance, Cross should understand that rushing to label us regionalists/tribalists is a strategy coined by those who are trying hard to give traction to their miscalculated, unpopular and egocentric agenda.
We demand an apology from Eddie Cross, who all along has been honourable,” Mlalazi said.
Cross could not be reached for comment yesterday.