MDC-T secretary-general Mr Tendai Biti has come under fire for making tribal slurs against the Zezuru community with a call that the Joint Monitoring and Implementation Committee should intervene and reprimand him. Mr Biti, who is also Finance Minister in the inclusive Government, made the tribal diatribe during a press conference two weeks ago when he announced his party's endorsement of the draft Constitution produced by the Copac management committee.
In his address, Mr Biti launched a tribal attack against Zezurus, saying the draft Constitution was meant to curtail their supposed dominance in the country's body politic.
"We are de-Zezurunising the State, let me put it clear, there is too much Zvimbanisation of this State, the first is that under this constitution all citizens are equal whether citizens by birth, by descent or by registration," said Mr Biti.
Mr Biti, however, tried to retract his statement later realising the backlash that would come saying "I just used it as colour, don't confuse it with substance."
But Zvimba Development Association chairperson, Mr Charles Nyachowe did not take this lightly. He said Mr Biti's remarks had caused a lot of anxiety among many Zimbabweans.
Such utterances, he said, had the effect of inciting tribal clashes.
"We are surprised by the silence of Jomic, we feel the organ should take decisive action against the threat made by Mr Biti," said Mr Nyachowe, who is also a former Harare councillor.
He said world history was littered with cases where thousands of lives had been lost due to clashes triggered by "such reckless tribal statements".
He gave examples of Rwanda where Tutsis and Hutus clashed leading to genocide, and Hitler's anti-Semitism in Germany which led to the Holocaust in which millions of Jews were killed in gas chambers and concentration camps.
Mr Nyachowe said it would be ridiculous for Mr Biti to go and campaign in Mashonaland provinces where mostly Zezuru people reside when he had shown resentment against them.
"We want to know whether he said this in his capacity as Government Minister or as a party functionary. If he was representing the Government, he should be disciplined, if he was putting on a party hat, then we do not expect him to go and campaign in those areas," said Mr Nyachowe.
He said the remarks were not consistent with a national leader that Mr Biti purports to be.
"That is counterproductive. We are quite worried about the threats that he is making," he said.
Seke Development Association chairperson Mr Alex Chakanetsa described the tribal attack as "unprovoked and unwarranted".
"The current constitution does not make any reference to Zezuru or any tribe. Why making it now when making reference to the draft Constitution?" asked Mr Chakanetsa.
"Are these constitutional material? To say this constitution is now good because we have addressed the issue of Zezurus, does it make any sense?"
Mr Chakanetsa said there have been long standing harmony among tribes in Zimbabwe so much that what Mr Biti was raising was misguided.
"There is even intermarriage among various tribes and even races," he said.
University of Zimbabwe International Relations Department lecturer, Dr Charity Manyeruke, condemned the utterances saying it was surprising coming from a Government minister.
"A constitution should be a unifying point and our leaders should be unifying agents. We have many tribes in Zimbabwe and the constitution is a symbol that we are one nation," said Dr Manyeruke.
Another analyst, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said she was disturbed by Mr Biti's comments as she described them as "reprehensible".
"It's quite disgusting coming from not only a lawyer but a leader of a political party. He is trying to divide people along ethnic lines," she said.
Political analyst Cde Christopher Mutsvangwa said Zimbabwe was one of the most united countries in Africa, making Mr Biti's remarks misguided.
"It's out of place. His statements have no place in Zimbabwe's body politic," he said.
Cde Mutsvangwa said what Mr Biti said was a reflection of lawyers trained at a time when whites were at the helm of the University of Zimbabwe's Law Faculty.
Zanu-PF Women's League chairperson Cde Oppah Muchinguri castigated Mr Biti saying Zimbabwe had gone to war to a fight bad system that practiced vices such as tribalism.
"We went to war to fight whites who condoned systems such as tribalism and racialism. I am a leader for women and I do not look at one's tribe whether Manyika, Karanga or Zezuru, this is what every leader should do," said Cde Muchinguri.
The MDC formations have since endorsed the draft Constitution while Zanu-PF has proposed some amendments that would be tabled before Principals.