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Vuwani, the Unresolved Tribal Melting Pot

It’s absolutely tribal and that is what characterizes the unrest in Vuwani, it certainly has nothing to do with service delivery. The trauma and horror experienced by the communities living near Vuwani is not comprehendible. The Vuwani conflict has drawn myriad of Tsonga groups and Venda to regroup in fighting over the demarcation debacle which has brewed for years, the tensions in Vuwani are born out of the failure by the Government to dismantle apartheid borders.

Vembe District Municipality is a representation of former Venda Bantustan accepts for few communities that are included from former Gazankulu. It is important to note that Gazankulu was completely dismantled with the former Bantustan areas included in Mopani, Vembe districts in Limpopo and Mpumalanga province.

What is puzzling is that nothing was done to Dismantle Venda and the legacy of Bantustans. We still have a university called Venda and proud stickers on cars written Shumela Venda. The tribal bigotry still thrives in that area and the hold is based on the fact that venda speakers are consolidated under majority in Vembe which happens to have all the areas of old republic of Venda.

The people in Vuwani went on Rampage and torched schools and targeted vehicles going towards Malamulele; houses of people who are perceived to support the new municipality were also torched but the government has failed to bring anyone into the books in relation to this serious heinous crimes. The Pro Makhado team which consists of Vend speakers based their demands on the comfort they enjoyed for years under the demarcated areas that has all their former Bantustans in Vembe.

It was convenient of the President to agree to the proposal that Vembe district must serve Vuwani community, indeed the people of Vuwani knows that Vembe district is administered by Vendas hence they will not rebel against such decision. It is pure tribalism that drives Vuwani protest, the comfort of Venda narrow nationalism has been challenged by the creation of the new Lim 345 Municipality.

In the mist of tribal confusion is the involvement of president Jacob Zuma who is compromised, the president was offered a loan by a Bank which was formed by the former Bantustan. The bank which offered Zuma the R7.8 Million is indirectly owned by Venda royal houses, King Toni Ramabulani is a co-owner of Dyambeu a 26 % shareholding company in VBS. Zuma in this case cannot be a reliable individual to offer solution to Vuwani because Venda royal house assisted him with his financial loan.

There are concerns that Tsonga communities which are paired with some venda villages will be affected by the decision of the Vuwani people served by the district. Some of the villages refusing to be included in Lim 345 are paired with Tsonga villages and have one councilor. The unlawful decision goes against the spirit of social cohesion and put the new municipality of Lim 345 in a dysfunctional state.

Some of the challenges with tribalism are infuriated by some Traditional houses; in 2015 Mbangiseni Masia who is a Venda chief was stopped by a court interdict from installing a head man in a Tsonga village of Kurhuleni. Masia under the banner of narrow Venda nationalism attempted to control Majosi and Nkuzana Villages which are Vatsonga villages. It is unfortunate that Masia is a chief beneficiary of tenders in Makhado and the removal of his village from Makhado and the former Mayor David Muthavhatsidi from Makhado has serious impacted on his chances of getting tenders. The disrespectful manner, degrading and belittling of Vatsonga . The effeminizing of vatsonga traditional houses by calling them swibelani and their exclusion from debating regarding resolving Vuwani standoff is of concern.

To resolve the Vuwani standoff, there must be neutral person, who has no interest and the current people involved in the mediation are compromised and hold tribal prejudice. The solution to Vuwani can only be attained if proper legal channels are followed and the law takes its cause.  The whole Limpopo Districts and municipalities should be re-demarcated to rid the province of tribal bigotry.

Ntsako Shivambu

Tsonga Historian.

Pic cred: City Press

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