HARARE – MDC Alliance leader Nelson Chamisa says he holds newly-appointed Sports Minister Kirsty Coventry “in high regard”, after criticism on social media for using the words “mudhidhi wedu” at a rally in Chitungwiza on Saturday.
“Mudhidhi wedu” means “our swimmer” in Shona, but the word “mudhidhi” can also mean rectum in a different context.
Some social media commentators suggested Chamisa’s comments were “disparaging”, “inelegant” and “peculiar”. He shouldn’t have used Shona because of the word’s dual meaning, they said.
“Intention is one thing, effect is another,” said @Rudoxxx on Twitter.
She added: “What is clear is a lot of women are not happy, and a lot of men are out in full force teaching everyone the tenants of Shona and mansplaining it.”
Chamisa, through his spokesman Nkululeko Sibanda, issued a statement late Sunday, explaining that context matters.
Sibanda said Chamisa was in fact praising Coventry, highlighting that he thought she, along with new Finance Minister Mthuli Ncube, were inspired appointments who however would fail because “two fresh apples cannot redeem a rotten basket.”
“The president Advocate Nelson Chamisa has the utmost respect for Zimbabweans and holds the newly-appointed minister Kirsty Coventry in high regard,” Sibanda said.
Chamisa “holds with reverence her lifetime of sacrifice in raising the Zimbabwe flag” as a highly-decorated Olympic champion.
He went on: “We would like to emphasise what the president said in Shona on Saturday, which is that Kirsty Coventry is ‘our swimmer’. That she is a swimmer who has made this country proud and excited, even when there was nothing else to smile about. He affectionately referred to Coventry, albeit, in Shona as ‘our swimmer’!
“For this reason, we de-emphasise the ill-intended rampant social media insinuation that the use of Shona was wrong. The use of Shona in a speech on one of Zimbabwe’s greatest sports persons, is neither a crime nor should it be used as an excuse for whipping emotions. This is irresponsible, wrong and frankly unacceptable.
“The president praised and honoured Kirsty Coventry and encourages Zimbabweans to continue to respect and honour our heroic sons and daughters. People must desist from bastardising the use of local languages.
“The point that the President makes is that the addition of Kirsty and Ncube in a cabinet led by an illegitimate president, will not be enough to rig Zanu PF’s way to legitimacy.”
Thousands of people attended the “thank you” rally at Huruyadzo Shopping Centre in Chitungwiza, the first of a nationwide outreach announced by Chamisa who accuses President Emmerson Mnangagwa and the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission of conspiring to deny him victory in the July 30 elections through the fiddling of numbers.
Speaking after the rally, MDC Alliance principal Tendai Biti said “the usurper can never exercise lawful, legitimate executive power”, adding: “You cannot put something on nothing and expect something.”
On September 15, the party holds another rally at Gwanzura Stadium in Harare to mark its 19th anniversary, said secretary general Douglas Mwonzora.-Zimlive