Home » General » Author Says the Mthwakazi Question Will Be Settled By the UN Soon [interview]

VETERAN journalist, Jonathan Maphenduka (JM) recently published a book – The Rule by Conquest: The Struggle in Mthwakazi – in which he calls for the secession of Matabeleland and the Midlands. The former assistant editor at the state controlled Chronicle newspaper argues that the people of Matabeleland he refers to as Mthwakazi and the Midlands were victims of a genocide perpetrated by the government with the help of colonial regimes.

Newzimbabwe.com chief reporter Nkosana Dlamini (ND) caught up with Maphenduka and produced the transcript below

JM: Before you ask me your questions let me make this point I am unyielding in my belief in the case of Mthwakazi. I believe that the Mthwakazi question will be settled by talking, involving the United Nations sooner than most people expect it.

Secondly, in your lifetime, there is great fear in Matebeleland just now that there would be another genocide against that province the reason being that the government is intensifying its occupation of Matebeleland and tension is running high in Matebeleland just now. Take for instance, Zimbabweans who escaped from xenophobia in South Africa. Those who come from Mashonaland are being settled in parts of Matebeleland South the point Ngwizi irrigation scheme in Mangwe, the Antelope irrigation scheme near Mapisa. The people near Mapisa there are being pushed out of their traditional homes to make way for the expansion of the Antelope Estate and I can tell you tensions are running high among the people.

ND: For the benefit of our readers Mr Maphenduka, what are the issues that you are addressing in your book?

JM: The thrust of the book is that there should be a partitioning of the country on the pre-colonial boundary that divides Mashonaland from Mthwakazi. We are saying because the government of Zimbabwe is hell-bent on occupying Matebeleland against our wishes while refusing to allow us to occupy any part of Mashonaland, we are therefore calling for the partitioning of the country.

ND: Why in the first place did you write the book Mr Maphenduka?

JM: We have grievances against the government of Zimbabwe that is the theme of the book. You know the genocide by the British in 1893 in which the people of Mashonaland were deeply involved? They fought against the people of Mthwakazi. They fought on the sides of the colonial authority against the people of Mthwakazi. That was the first genocide committed by Britain and the people of Mashonaland against the people of Mthwakazi.

ND: In that case, you seem to be agreeing with Vice President Mphoko’s narrative that Gukurahundi was an act of the colonialists?

JM: No, no, no, no! I disagree on certain aspects. Mphoko says he knows that for instance the genocide of the 1980s was indeed a conspiracy among Britain, the government of Zimbabwe and North Korea. Mphoko himself was at the time director of demobilisation so he knows those who later formed the Fifth Brigade.

ND: Gukurahundi and secession are two very emotive subjects and almost taboo to discuss on a global platform like a book. Why all this determination on your part Mr Maphenduka?

JM: We have grievances against the government of Zimbabwe as people of Zimbabwe.

ND: So do you fear for your life now that you are raising issues that people like Paul Siwela (exiled Mthwakazi Liberation Organisation leader) were prosecuted for?

JM: I am not in the Paul Siwela league.

ND: Do you see that (secession) coming to fruition given the tenacity with which our government has resisted it?

JM: Are you suggesting that we must ask the government of Zimbabwe for permission to talk secession! Are you saying the people can only whisper and not talk loudly around secession!

ND: Not necessarily but do you think the current government would give in to your demands?

JM: I don’t have to think what the government thinks. What the government thinks has nothing to do with what the people of Mthwakazi want. You also raise the question of my security. I am not trying to run away from this country. If somebody is thinking of assassinating me I am in it they can go ahead and do it but that won’t stop the people of Mthwakazi demanding their self-determination.

ND: Going back to your days as a Chronicle journalist, what did you see exactly during Gukurahundi?

JM: No. You know we saw evil things but we can’t discuss these things now. We saw ghastly things against our people.

ND: Were you under any specific orders by your seniors not to write about some of the occurrences that you witnessed during the time?

JM: No I was not. But the whole thing, you see, was glossed over because the newspaper belonged to the state which is controlled by Zanu PF.

ND: Did you try to write anything that was censored?

JM: Why do you want to talk about the Chronicle? The Chronicle is another world, another time. We are talking about current thinks, the current thinking of Mthwakazi. We want to make that quite clear that we are not talking about what I did at the Chronicle or what I didn’t do during the Gukurahundi operations. That was another time and it doesn’t really feature in our thinking.

ND: It’s fine. How has your book been received so far?

JM: You know I am thrilled I am really elated. It’s wonderful you know. But of course you know book sellers would not take the book because they fear to be associated with a book that is so radical in the author’s thinking.

ND: So what avenues have you been pursuing to sell your book?

JM: You know we have distributed enough copies to be able to generate the current debate about the book.

ND: Have you been questioned yet by the state over the book?

JM: No. I will tell you something. One of the first persons to buy the book was none other than George Charamba (President Mugabe’s spokesperson) during the Trade Fair week and I have been trying to talk to him to see if he is going to critique the book. You know that would give me an indication as to the thinking of government. George Charamba is the only person in my view who is the confidante of President Mugabe. So I would have been interested to see as to how he would critique the book as that would give me an idea on how the government intends to treat the book burn it, arrest the writer, perhaps charge me with treason or anything like that but I am not running away from all those things.

ND: Mr Maphenduka thanks for your time.

Source : New Zimbabwe