Mugabe defends Rhodes

Zimbabwean youths were stopped yesterday from digging up the remains of Cecil Rhodes from his grave in the Matopos Hills, just outside Bulawayo.

The Zanu-PF youths assembled at the party’s Bulawayo offices, from which they intended to go to the hills. They apparently planned to exhume Rhodes’s remains so they could be repatriated to Britain.

But a directive from Zanu-PF headquarters in Harare put an end to their plan.

Zweli Malinga, a Zanu-PF youth activist from Masotsha Ndlovu district, where Rhodes is buried, reportedly told NewZimbabwe online: ”We cannot stand seeing whites coming from abroad every day to honour and conduct rituals before their ancestor who is here buried on our own land. The sooner they take [Rhodes] to their own land the better. If they do not we will do it ourselves.”

Zimbabwe’s President Robert Mugabe in 2012 blocked attempts by “war veterans” to exhume Rhodes’ remains.

A member of the Zanu-PF politburo, Sikhanyiso Ndlovu, said: “We decided to preserve it after independence for historical [reasons].”

The deputy head of communication at the British High Commission in Pretoria, Isabel Potgieter, said it was up to South Africans and Zimbabweans how they handled the Rhodes saga.

“It is not for us to comment. It is for stakeholders in the countries to decide,” she said.

The Rhodes Must Fall campaign has spread from UCT to Kimberley, with calls for a statue of him there to be removed.

Comment boards placed next to the Rhodes statue at UCT were removed after being covered in racist remarks prompting vice-chancellor Max Price to whine about “hate speech”, something he somehow finds perfectly in order when directed against Afrikaners.