Thursday, September 03, 2009

(NEWZIMBABWE) Holland slammed over Mzilikazi violence claim

Holland slammed over Mzilikazi violence claim
by Vusumuzi Sifile
03/09/2009 00:00:00

NATIONAL Healing Minister Sekai Holland on Tuesday shocked delegates at a food security conference when she claimed that “state-sponsored” violence was not unique to Zanu PF, but has been going on for 900 years in Zimbabwe.

“In an honest way, when we looked at our history, we were shocked to find that we have had 900 years of state-sponsored violence from different chieftaincies and kingdoms which have been in our country,” Holland told a regional dialogue on agriculture and the environment in Maputo, Mozambique.

Controversially, Holland singled out Ndebele King Mzilikazi and his “mob” of thieves, saying their violence was so extreme even white settlers who colonised the country in 1899 were “not as professional” in committing acts of violence.

She said: “By the time that Mzilikazi's mob came after stealing the cattle (from Zululand), there was just nothing they knew how to do that had not been done before. And when the Pioneer Column came, they were not as professional as the one who had come before (Mzilikazi).”

Although the discussion was on the contribution of agriculture to economic growth in southern Africa, she managed to participate in the meeting with her national healing agenda. She said there was a strong link between national healing and agriculture.

Reacting to Holland’s utterances, Zimbabwean academic and human rights activist Brilliant Mhlanga, a Ndebele, said Holland had made a gaffe by seeking to equate state-sponsored violence in present day Zimbabwe and what happened over a century ago.

“Holland has clearly decided to distort history. She’s prone to such gaffes, and it’s unfortunate,” Mhlanga said.

He added: “The process of state formation, which is what you had under Mzilikazi, is achieved through violence, just look at the history of all nations – from Britain through Rome to the Balkan Region. When people celebrate state formation there, they are glorifying their fallen kings who achieved those victories through violence. It was normal at the time.”

Mhlanga said by referring to “Mzilikazi's mob”, Holland was “actually denigrating the symbol of nationhood for some people (the Ndebele) in Zimbabwe”.

He added: “Honestly, I would have felt less disheartened if such statements were to be uttered by a drunkard staggering out of a beer hall. Very possibly, I would have even considered praying profusely for that drunkard with the hope that he finally quits drinking for him to see the reality and need for national healing in Zimbabwe.

“Now that these words are directly from the Minister of National Healing, God help us!”

Meanwhile Holland has praised former South African President Thabo Mbeki for a “tremendous job” he did in bringing President Robert Mugabe and his opposition rivals to the negotiating table, leading to the formation of a unity government in February.

Holland said: “I would like to really thank the SADC leadership for the Global Political Agreement, because for people like myself coming from the MDC-T it was something we had never hoped when we started the party ten years ago, that within our lifetime we would be sitting on the same table with our colleagues and talking together about running our country.

“I would like to really say President Mbeki … history will put him down as somebody who did a tremendous job because everybody had failed, but he was able to get Zimbabweans to sit around the table.”

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