Cape Town – The Zimbabwe government has moved to defend President Robert Mugabe after the veteran leader sparked outrage over comments he made about the country's Kalanga tribe.
Mugabe 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, 91, said this while responding to a question on the xenophobic violence that swept through parts of Durban and Johannesburg last month.
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Mugabe's remarks ignited anger among many, with some Zimbabweans viewing the comments as evidence Mugabe was partly blaming victims of the xenophobic attacks for what happened.
According to The Herald, Mugabe's minister of information Jonathan Moyo came to the nonagenarian's defence, accusing the privately owned media of trying to sensationalise the president’s comments.
"While some commentary on the remarks in question has raised understandable community issues, it is unfortunate that there has also been opportunistic and even mischievous misinterpretation of the president's remarks by some media and opposition political circles for inflammatory purposes," Moyo was quoted as saying.
Moyo maintained that Mugabe's remarks were taken out of context, adding that he (Mugabe) was referring to the pre-independence stereotype about Kalangas. He said this ended when Zimbabwe attained independence in 1980 and Mugabe introduced education for all Zimbabweans, including Kalangas.
Moyo said as a result of Mugabe's education policy, Kalangas today were among Zimbabwe's "best educated sons and daughters of the soil".
Many took to social media, as they reacted to Moyo's remarks.