Recent developments in Zimbabwe that saw the departure of a dictator and the installation of a new military appointed, presented, shows the urgent need for dialogue on the country’s road to democracy. Beside the unquestionable ways of circumventing democracy, for the first time ethnicity openly became a clear factor that controls our democracy and governance systems.
Ethnicity in the country’s governance system became more pronounced after the Unity Accord between ZAPU and ZANU. It is not clear whether this was just a coincidence or deliberate ploy to ensure that ZAPU cadres who included a ‘large’ group of the Ndebele speaking become less effective in government.
During this period a group of 27 Zezuru men formed a parallel structure that directed the affairs of government outside the cabinet. This group which became known as the G27 was responsible for taking critical decisions that informed government operations.
This group continued to influence government decisions up to the early 2000. Government policies and directives became a nullity as long as they did not enjoy the blessing of the G27. When J L Nkomo expelled the then mayor of Harare Solomon Tavengwa many in Shona speaking communities wondered where John got those powers to expel a Zezuru from such an office.
Ever since the Unity Accord appointments have always been based on ethnicity not qualifications and performance. While in the eighties and nineties these ethnic considerations affected higher posts in government, parastatals and financial institutions, it later deteriorated to lower ranks including sweepers and cleaners. It was not suprising when Mugabe got angry to the calls by the Karanga that it was their turn to rule the country. He knew it very well what it meant.
If this is talked about Zimbabwe is likely to slide into a deeper crisis. While everyone is celebrating the exit of Mugabe which was long over-due, thanks to the country’s security, it is frightening to note that behind everything else is the ethnicity factor that pushed him out driven by the same military that supported him all these years. What will happen if the military differ not on the preferred candidate but on the ethnicity of the future preferred candidate?
There is really need to engage openly and frankly on the ethnicity factor in Zimbabwe’s politics and the general governance of the country. This will help deal with certain stereo types that might affect the country’s road to democracy. It has been rumoured that Zanu had an arrangement that after a Zezuru in power it should be a karanga. When civic organisations like Imbovane and the Institute of the Advancement to Freedom raised this in the 1990s Mugabe’s government dismissed it and labelled those organisations tribalistic. Recent developments tells it all there is no denial anymore.
To avoid bigger problems the nation must start engaging on these issues