Cape Town – Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe's former aide Dumiso Dabengwa has reportedly labelled the veteran leader a "tribalist" following Mugabe's recent Kalanga tribal jibe.
According to Southern Eye, Dabengwa, who is the leader of opposition Zapu, said Mugabe's insult aimed at Kalangas reflected his "tribalist" mentality that led to the Gukurahundi massacres which saw up to 20 000 people killed in Matebeleland in the mid 1980s.
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Memories of the killings, carried out by Mugabe's North Korean-trained Fifth Brigade in the south of the country, remain strong among many in Zimbabwe's Ndebele ethnic group and contribute to their distrust of the Mugabe-led government. Most of those killed were Ndebele.
Petty criminal activities
Mugabe, 91, made headlines last week when he said most Zimbabwean emigrants to South Africa in the past were Kalangas from Matabeleland. He said they (Kalangas) had little education and that they were also reputed to be crooks.
Mugabe said Kalangas were widely regarded in the past to have engaged in petty criminal activities in South Africa.
Mugabe said this while responding to a question on the xenophobic violence that swept through parts of Durban and Johannesburg last month.
The state-owned newspaper The Herald on Monday quoted Information Minister Jonathan Moyo as defending the nonagenarian. Moyo said Mugabe's remarks were taken out of context. He said Mugabe was referring to the pre-independence stereotype about Kalangas when he made the remarks.
Dabengwa, however criticised for Moyo trying to defend Mugabe.
"Some Zanu-PF apologists have tried to cover up his grotesque insult on Kalangas as uneducated people most of who are involved in crime in South Africa," Dabengwa was quoted as saying.