Columnist/Opinion

Zimbabweans, could Hitler have officiated at a Jewish synagogue?

by Tendai Ruben Mbofana

It was quite a disturbing and unsettling sight watching President Mnangagwa officiating at the unveiling of the Pupu Battlefield Memorial Site in Lupani.  

This was in honour of the 1893 vanquishing of 33 British troops led by Allan Wilson at the hands of a Ndebele regiment under the command of Mtshane Khumalo.

So, what was so amiss about this ceremony?

There was definitely nothing wrong with honouring these brave Ndebele warriors who were fiercely resisting the country’s occupation and colonization by the British.

In fact, this unparalleled act of courage – whereby a seemingly weaker and poorly equipped people stand up to their more powerful oppressors – is what is lacking in today’s generation.

However, what I found undoubtedly worrying was inviting Mnangagwa to officiate at an event celebrating the Ndebele.

Is this not the leader of a brutal regime that presided over the grand massacre of over 20,000 innocent unarmed Ndebele-speakers between 1982 and 1987 in the Midlands and Matebeleland provinces?

Actually, was he not the security minister – under the Robert Gabriel Mugabe administration – when this savage genocide was unleashed?

As I watched in utter horror as Mnangagwa pontificated at the Pupu event, I could not help wondering if Nazi German Fuhrer Adolf Hitler would have been permitted to officiate at a Jewish function.

Let us remember this was a man whose atrocities against the Jews in both Germany and other Eastern European countries resulted in the callous killing of an estimated 6 million people.

This Holocaust was what prodded the international community into putting in place legislation against the crime of genocide.

The Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide (CPPCG), or the Genocide Convention, is an international treaty that criminalizes genocide and obligates state parties to pursue the enforcement of its prohibition.

It was the first legal instrument to codify genocide as a crime and the first human rights treaty unanimously adopted by the United Nations General Assembly on 9 December 1948.

The Convention entered into force on 12 January 1951 and has 152 state parties as of 2022.

The Convention defines genocide as any of five “acts committed with intent to destroy, in whole or in part, a national, ethnical, racial, or religious group.”

These five acts include killing members of the group, causing them serious bodily or mental harm, imposing living conditions intended to destroy the group, preventing births, and forcibly transferring children out of the group.

Victims are targeted because of their real or perceived membership of a group, not randomly.

The convention further criminalizes “complicity, attempt, or incitement of its commission.”

Based on eyewitness accounts, including my own, as well as a report by the CCJP (Catholic Commission for Justice and Peace), those targeted by the 5th Brigade military wing were identified specifically on the basis of their Ndebele ethnicity.

Apart from those who were murdered in cold blood (including babies gouged from their mothers’ wombs), thousands more were raped, viciously beaten up or tortured, limbs hacked off, and their homes burnt to the ground.

Is that not why this near annihilation of the Ndebele was classified as genocide by Genocide Watch in 2009?

I actually witnessed some of these harrowing atrocities in my own neighbourhood of Redcliff in 1984, at the tender age of 11 years old.

I honestly believe this is when the flames of social justice were ignited in me – which have become more fiery as I witness the continued oppression and suffering of ordinary Zimbabweans.

No wonder it baffled my mind as to why Mnangagwa would be invited to preside over an event to honour the Ndebele.  

Or, did he impose himself – possibly as a way of trying to placate the Ndebele and gloss over the Gukurahundi genocide.

This is more so with the current sham packaged as ‘addressing the Gukurahundi disturbances’.

The fact that the Mnangagwa administration can not even bring themselves to acknowledging that what they did was a genocide is quite telling in its own right.

It also will not surprise me at all that the president was actually invited by the local leadership.

Besides, do we not already have those of Ndebele ethnicity supporting the same ZANU PF that tried its best to wipe them off Mother Earth?

As much as that may seem weird and difficult to understand, it is not as uncommon as it may first appear.

How many people know that the last general of the dreaded Nazi German air force (the Luftwaffe), Helmut Wilberg, was actually a Jew?

In fact, according to Bryan Mark Rigg’s book, ‘Hitler’s Jewish Soldiers’, thousands of those who served the Nazis were full Jews, while more than a hundred thousand were part-Jew.

Of these, 20 were awarded the Knight’ Cross – German’s highest military honour – for their role during the Second World War.

Some, as police officer Vital Hasson, actually sent his fellow Jews, including members of his own family, to the Auschwitz concentration camp!

That is why it is not surprising at all witnessing those of Ndebele ethnicity falling over each other in their fight to endear themselves to Mnangagwa.

How many are top members of ZANU PF and even his cabinet?

In the end, we then see him being invited to officiate at a sacrosanct occasion as the Pupu War Memorial.

It is amazing how many people are prepared to betray their own for an opportunity to feed on the gravy train, even if that means selling their souls to the devil.

Tendai Ruben Mbofana is a social justice advocate and writer. Please feel free to WhatsApp or Call: +263715667700 | +263782283975, or email: mbofana.tendairuben73@gmail.com, or visit website: https://mbofanatendairuben.news.blog/

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