. . . raps NewsDay
. . . analysts flay media
Hebert Zharare and Tendai Mugabe
THE family of the late Father Zimbabwe Dr Joshua Mqabuko Nkomo yesterday called the NewsDay’s bluff saying the veteran nationalist and national hero was a Sotho, contrary to falsehoods published in the paper that he was of Kalanga descent as it sought to whip up disaffection over President Mugabe’s comments on colonial stereotypes about Kalangas.
Addressing a Press conference at the end of the Sadc Extraordinary Summit in Harare last Thursday, President Mugabe recalled a pre-independence stereotype that most Zimbabwean emigrants to South Africa were Kalangas from Matabeleland who had little education.
Some sections of the media, led by NewsDay and The Daily News, immediately latched on to the President’s sentiments claiming they were an attack on Kalangas.
The NewsDay in particular roped in MDC leaders to lend voice to its call for the exhumation of national heroes of Kalanga descent, one of whom they claimed to be Dr Nkomo, and the resignation of Cabinet ministers from Matabeleland South.
Reacting to the infantile campaign, Nkomo family member and director of the Bulawayo-based pressure group Habakkuk Trust, Mr Dumisani Octavius Nyongolo Nkomo, who has done extensive research on the origin of the family dismissed the NewsDay story as “blatant falsehoods.”
Writing on his Facebook Wall, Mr Nkomo said: “Get it right – Mugabe’s comments on Kalangas lamentable and should be condemned but let’s get right today’s NewsDay says Joshua Nkomo was a Kalanga that is blatantly false he was a Sotho of Kololo descent our emotionalism should not compromise our grasp of facts,” Mr Nkomo said before immediately coming under attack from MDC-T supporters who claimed it was inconvenient for him to correct the NewsDay story at this stage with one Sihlangu Dlodlo saying Mr BNkomo should ‘’allow people to use whatever weapon to fight this war’’, including blatant falsehoods.
Information, Media and Broadcasting Services Minister Professor Jonathan Moyo expressed concern at the NewsDay’s blatant falsehoods.
“It is a cause for great concern that some newspapers which purport to be champions of media freedom and paragons of the truth are at the forefront of manufacturing and peddling shameless lies about the ethnicity of the late VP Joshua Nkomo for inflammatory purposes of inciting tribal commotion in the country.
‘’ The saving grace is that President Mugabe and the late VP Joshua Nkomo built the remarkable unity of Zimbabweans on a rock solid nationalist foundation beyond the tribal politics of small minds in some sections the media, “ Professor Moyo said..
Mr Qini Siziba who posted a comment on Mr Nkomo’s page added: “So disheartening to see a generation passing tribal differences and stereotypes instead of leaving behind a legacy of unity. Let us shame them and build a new united Zimbabwe.”
Zimpapers social media editor, Delta Milayo Ndou posted: “Minority groups don’t need a lie to bring them together. I see nothing wrong in correcting a misconception about someone’s identity. How does that lie advance any notion of unity amongst minority groups?
“And the family is right to set the record straight. (Dr) Joshua Nkomo’s history, lineage and identity must not be distorted in the name of unifying minorities – that’s an entirely ignoble use of the Nkomo lineage. Why should they embrace a gross misrepresentation of who they are and why are people at such pains to mollycoddle this blatant bald-faced lie?
“As much as I admire the legacy of Joshua Nkomo, I am not about to unreasonably insist he was something he was not – to what end? He was not Venda like I am and he was not Kalanga like some are, but he was a great Sotho man who embraced all minorities to the extent that some are now happy to falsely claim him as their own. Please. Why do we want to expend so much time painstakingly explaining why a lie is a bad thing and why it must be corrected?”
In its yesterday’s story, the NewsDay quoting opposition functionaries, said those who should also be exhumed included decorated national heroes among them the late Vice President John Landa Nkomo, Cdes George Silundika and Jason Ziyaphapha Moyo among others.
This comes as political analysts and legal experts slammed as divisive some elements calling for the exhumation of all Kalanga heroes buried at the National Heroes Acre.
The private and some opposition parties attempted to manipulate President Mugabe’s speech during the recent Sadc Heads of State and Government, where he remarked of a stereotype of pre-independence Kalangas who usually went to South Africa seeking employment without formal qualifications.
Government had since explained the matter pointing out that the President spoke in the context of unfounded allegations that the horrific xenophobic attacks in South Africa was due, partly to criminal activities by Zimbabweans in that country.
NewsDay, after a sustained onslaught of the President that failed to gain traction last week tried to resuscitate the issues yesterday by alleging that the Kalanga people wanted their kith and kin exhumed.
The paper quoted some opposition functionaries, among them Professor Welshman Ncube and Gorden Moyo, who said Government, should exhume Kalanga heroes interred at the National Heroes Acre while others insinuated that Cabinet ministers of the Kalanga origin should resign en-masse.
This has, however, attracted serious backlash from political analysts who dismissed the suggestions as divisive.
University of Zimbabwe political scientist Professor Charity Manyeruke, said it was a disgrace for some failed political actors to manipulate the President’s speech.
“There is serious manipulation of the President’s speech for political distortion. Such calls (exhumation) can only be made by people who are divisive, but they will not win because Zimbabwe’s social fabric is intact,” she said.
“You do not need to mention tribalism when it comes to the issue of national heritage like the National Heroes Acre because that is abuse of the highest order.
“The Heroes Acre is an important national heritage that is even recognised in the country’s national Constitution and that is why on the national calendar we have a holiday to recognise the heroes who sacrificed their lives to liberate this country.”
Prominent Harare lawyer Mr Jonathan Samkange, said people calling for the exhumation of Kalanga heroes were being mischievous.
He said they were escalating the debate to try and divide Zimbabweans.
“Why would the President say that today after 35 years of independence? I think the President was misquoted and he is not a President for the Shonas only. He is the President for everyone and he is like the sun that rises for everyone.
“There are some people who are being mischievous for political gains,” he said.
Midlands State University lecturer Professor Nhamo Mhiripiri, said it was imperative to republish the entire President’s speech so that people could realise the context in which the President made the remarks.
“There are no people who want to be demeaned and I am quite sure that our President is aware of that,” he said.
“When people get bits and pieces of a speech it is easy for some to misinterpret it and I think it is important that the President’s speech be re-published for everyone to understand the circumstances under which those remarks were made.”
Harare lawyer Mr Terrance Hussein, said Government had already explained the Kalanga issue and it was important for the country to move forward.
He said it was unfortunate that there were some people with sinister agendas who wanted to capitalize on the issue.