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BlakAkhive, Matimu

Vuwani – The repeat of 1979 (History of Tsonga-Venda Power Struggles)

The Republic of Venda homeland was created in October 1961, as Vhavenda Tribal Authority, and then in February 1973 was given a “Self Rule” status. In 1979, it was given an “Independent Republic” status – The Republic of Venda (like Transkei, Ciskei, Bophutatswana) was an Apartheid experiment on Black division and domination.

Majority of Vatsonga were forcefully removed (NOT by Vhavenda, but by the National Party government) from areas of what was to be Republic of Venda to the current Malamulele and some to the current Bungeni.

  • Large part of the Republic of Venda was under Zouthspansberg, which was governed by Hosi Njakanjaka of the Mukhari clan and João Albasini, the Portuguese-Italian trader and colonialist who had a mini empire in the area.
  • Chief Masia and all the villages nearby were under the administration of Njakanjaka Kingdom.
  • Louis Trichardt (Xitandani) belongs to the house of Njakanjaka, they lost it to the Boers who fought Njakanjaka and removed Vatsonga in the area.
  • The Xikotikoti and Godini families in Jerome village were removed from Nandoni and Thohoyandou areas respectively.
    1979 Coat of arms | Image: stampworldhistory.com

The Vhavenda started consolidating power and coded them in the “Shumela Venda” code. Anyone who was not Muvenda was not welcome and couldn’t contribute to “Shumela Venda” (Work for Venda).  The Venda code protruded to serious tribalism as people from outside Venda ethnicity, mainly Tsongas, who sought employment and residence in the then newly established Bantustan Republic, were considered aliens and not true to the code of “Shumela Venda”.  Many Vatsonga who already had jobs in Louis Trichardt were laid off and space was created for Venda speakers. A recorded incident is that of Sydney Baloyi nearly losing his Job at then Radio Thohoyandou because he was Tsonga. The instruction to fire him came from the Chief Minister and Chiefs under his leadership. Sydney was to lose a job whilst Radio Thohoyandou had other people of other ethnic groups employed there, including Coloureds. Luckily Sydney was saved by the fact that his mother is a Muvhenda who married a Tsonga man.

Vhavenda felt empowered and Vatsonga continued reaching out to Vhavenda as fellow Africans.  HWE Ntswan’wisi the former Chief Minister of Gazankulu, was very instrumental in helping Mphephu the then Chief Minister of Venda to deal with governance issues and translation in official meetings, as Mphephu found it hard to communicate with Botha and his Ministers of Apartheid.

2016: Thulamele Municipality vs Malamulele

Residents of Malamulele have been requesting their own municipality since 2006 and have been unsuccessful over the years. Residents and leaders of Malamulele accuse Thulamele of being anti-Tsonga and Pro-Venda, main issues being:

  • Water distribution
  • Budget allocation
  • Infrastructure Development
  • Corruption
  • And Land

Malamulele municipality is a threat to ethnic power dynamics of Vhembe district (and Thulamele Venda superpowers). In the new municipality there is no room for Shumela Venda for the Venda branch merged into Malamulele. Nandoni is a key strategic (water source) area controlled by Vhavenda. Nandoni is historically Tsonga land and if power switched, fear is that Vatsonga will mistreat Vhahvenda as a form of revenge.

Image: vendaland.org

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