Blast from my archives!!!!

The seemingly deliberate misspelling of Ndebele words and shunning of Ndebele people to produce marketing materials  led me to repost the article I wrote beginning of this year.

Title:  Disrespect of languages, shunning locals from jobs a time bomb

Numerous debates and prostetations on topical issues that are pertinent to the Matabeleland region have over the fews months emerged. Language, mispelt words and access to jobs and places in higher learning institutions taking centre stage. One of the key debates beginning of the year was a burst out in parliament pitting the Bulawayo provincial affairs Minister Eunice Sandi Moyo and two MDC T lawmakers Honorable Ruth Labode and Honorable Dorcas Sibanda. The two argued that residents of Bulawayo are often overlooked when it comes to jobs and for places at higher learning instiutions. The minister is allegedly to have shot back and said that she is not a tribalist. I wondered the origination of word tribalism in a very simple and straight forward question like this. The honorable minister could have demanded evidence from the two and promised action. Similarly her response proves there is an invisible hand or force that influenced her response.   The other was the interview made on Radio Zimbabwe with the minister of Provincial Affairs for Matabeleland South Abednico Ncube. The minister was asked how far true it was that children in Gwanda were failing Grade Seven Examinations because they were being taught by Shona speaking teachers, Minister Ncube shot down the assertion choosing instead to blame headmasters of the schools for the failures. Reports says that this did not go down well with listeners who during the phone in session, listeners castigated the dominance of teachers who do not speak Ndebele and other local languages such as Tonga,Tji Khalanga etc  in many schools in the region who are made to teach lower grades in primary schools. Some listeners it was reported proposed secession as the panacea as they felt their language and values were under serious attack.

Opinion makers in some sectors of the society have vehemently disagreed with the two law makers and listeners from this region.

I took time to try and give evidence and validity of their claims and I argued they have serious cases that need to be taken seriously and urgently to avoid recurrent and perennial conflicts that daily emanates from these issues.

I took time  to correct perceptions that the two were advocating for the Ndebele to be the only ones entitled to get jobs in Bulawayo. According to quotes made in the newspapers in allegedly statements proclaimed in parliament, the two never in their questions mentioned that they are speaking for Ndebeles but they said local people.

Bulawayo is a cosmopolitan city and the word “local” refers to any anyone migrated from Binga, Victoria Falls, Plumtree and other areas and there is nothing Ndebele about their arguments.  To me this was a critical issue that the two raised. I shared evidence that local jobs are taken by outsiders, and I made an effort to prove that with my experiences  two years ago in resort of Victoria Falls where during the opening of one food court a bus came with over 30 young people to open a restaurant, simple logic tells every sane person that Victoria Falls is a tourism hub and there is no justification whatsoever to import over 30 people to open a restaurant unless if it is specialized skill which was then proved otherwise in the subsequent investigation.

The two lawmakers were bashed for raising these issues in parliament instead of visiting the office of the minister of state for provincial affairs, I tried  to remind those who cared  that the role of parliament is to make laws and hence the two had every justification to table the issue in parliament in order to encourage the making of laws that will enhance the constitutional provisions to promote the empowerment of locals. There is nothing mischievous and problematic by raising issues in parliament as its role is to make laws that will serve the interests of the masses, maybe their questions were going to trigger someone to sponsor a bill that speaks to the issues at hand.

The constitution of Zimbabwe also acknowledges that some regions are historical underdeveloped due to political disturbances that occurred some 31 years ago.These have a bearing on employment patterns due to the simple fact that the people who were killed then most of them were the productive and if my statistics from oral history  survivors are correct most of those who were killed ranged  from 20 -40 years which means that over 50% were young people who could have risen within the ranks by today will be managers in various companies and organizations here in the region, but the whole lot was exterminated, then it left vacuum that was replaced by other people from outside the region, who have risen within ranks are now managers and directors today are employing their kith and kin at the expense of locals.

I also made an effort to further prove that employing people who are not conversant with even the language is very detrimental to the values and ethos of other tribes, I had a an experience at one primary school in Bulawayo, I saw a teaching aid which wrong constructed Ndebele word: Iqaqa was constructed as Iqhaqha, qaphela was spelled as Qhaphela, Qeda as Qheda, Qamula as Qhamula, Quma as Qhuma. I also said that I wished the two legislators had an opportunity to see these teaching aids and took them to parliament to proved that critical locals jobs are taken by outsiders who then teach innocent children the wrong language. This is to me it appeared to be gross disrespect of the Ndebele language and ethos and indeed the two lawmakers have a serious case that cannot be ignored by sane leaders and those with people at heart.

I pointed that it is also a violation of the constitution Chapter 1 section 6 (3) which asserts that the state and all institutions and agencies of government at every level  must ensure that all official languages are treated equitably and take into account  the language preferences of people affected by governmental measures or communication.

One will argue that is the duty of the head to monitor the work of the teachers but conceivably the head also in not conversant with the Ndebele language.

I encouraged stakeholders working in cahoots with the Ministry of primary and secondary education and School Development Committees to set up systems to monitor teaching methodologies and tools in school. If teachers are not enough who are conversant with the Ndebele language, those from other regions must be allowed to teach other subjects like English, Mathematics, General paper and made to be assisted by those who are able to speak and teach Ndebele. If this continues unabated parents, human rights organizations and other stakeholders will view it as calculated to moves to exterminate the Ndebele language.

By  Michael Mdladla Ndiweni