Zimbabweans up in arms over Mugabe's tribal jibe

2015-04-30 16:48
Robert Mugabe (left) and Lee Kuan Yew: both led their countries to independence from British colonial rule, both were among the world’s longest-serving heads of government and both have favoured dynastic rule. But that’s where the similarities end.

Robert Mugabe (left) and Lee Kuan Yew: both led their countries to independence from British colonial rule, both were among the world’s longest-serving heads of government and both have favoured dynastic rule. But that’s where the similarities end.

Multimedia   ·   User Galleries   ·   News in Pictures Send us your pictures  ·  Send us your stories

Harare - Many Zimbabweans reacted angrily on Thursday to reports that President Robert Mugabe had called members of the Kalanga tribe uneducated crooks at a SADC summit this week.

Video footage of the 91-year-old president on Wednesday saying that Kalangas were widely regarded in the past to have engaged in petty criminal activities in South Africa is being circulated widely in Zimbabwe. 

Many Kalangas live in Zimbabwe's south-western Matabeleland provinces, where rates of migration to South Africa are highest.

Responding to questions from journalists on the xenophobic attacks that hit South Africa this month, Mugabe said: "The Kalangas were very notorious in South Africa." He said Kalangas were reputed to have been crooks and weren't "educated enough to assume ... jobs." 

Twitter user @MariaZest1 said: "Anyone who's still believes Mugabe is a unifier is deluded. I'm offended #PartKalanga  #PartShona #PartNdebele."

User @PRONKOMO said: "Mugabe has showed his tribalistic side... he is not well informed about Matabeleland people... people he supposedly governs." 

Some Zimbabweans have pointed out that a number of Mugabe's ministers may have Kalanga roots. Common surnames that can indicate Kalanga heritage include Moyo, Mpofu, Ngwenya, Dube, Gumbo and Sibanda. 

"Wonder how SK, a big Kalanga, feels after the boss said Kalangas are uneducated tsotsis," asked Ncube Njabulo. SK is Simon Khaya Moyo, a former Zanu-PF chairperson and ambassador to South Africa who is now the ruling party's spokesperson.

A Facebook user, identifying herself as Zimbabwean socialite Nomathemba Primrose Ndebele, posted: "Did the president truly say those of my tribe are uneducated (KALANGA)... my uncle was the Attoney General ka... my aunt is the police commissioner... I'm educated". 

Mugabe's criticism of those who flock to South Africa - he complained that migrants saw it as "heaven on earth" - has rankled many in Zimbabwe. There are at least one million Zimbabweans in South Africa: Only 900 agreed to board state-provided buses home in the wake of the attacks in Durban and Gauteng.

The Zimbabwean president told heads of state and delegates at Wednesday's summit that foreign nationals in South Africa were there "voluntarily". But critics of the Zimbabwe government, including former education minister David Coltart, claim that thousands more Zimbabweans left as a direct result of Mugabe's controversial policies during the economic and political crisis years after 2000.

@ZimMediaReview accused the official Herald newspaper, which is the voice of Mugabe's government, of trying to "sanitise... with little success" the president's Kalanga jibe. The newspaper said Mugabe cited Matabeleland South "as one area where there was emigration to South Africa."

Meanwhile, Zimbabwean Information Minister Jonathan Moyo launched an attack on a Twitter user who said Mugabe had called Kalangas uneducated "idiots".

"The uneducated 'idiot' bit is of course your creation & [you] should be ashamed but then you're shameless!" Moyo tweeted.

When asked whether he had Kalanga blood, the minister did not reply.

Other Zimbabweans argued that Mugabe was merely sharing his memories of how Kalangas were perceived in the past.

Read more on:    sadc  |  robert ­mugabe  |  zimbabawe  |  social media  |  southern africa

Join the conversation!

24.com encourages commentary submitted via MyNews24. Contributions of 200 words or more will be considered for publication.

We reserve editorial discretion to decide what will be published.
Read our comments policy for guidelines on contributions.


24.com publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
Comments have been closed for this article.

Inside News24


Book flights

Compare, Book, Fly

Traffic Alerts
There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.


Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.

Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire 24.com network.


Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.

Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.