The world’s ethnic minorities have had to struggle to realise development. Their identity largely differentiates them from the majority in terms of values, norms historical experiences as well as social political and economic interests. These differences usually create development gap between them and the majority. Therefore when trying to promote development amongst ethnic minorities their needs may also differ from the dominant development models applicable to the governing majority. Ethnic minorities have struggled to attain recognition and have commonly suffered or experienced social, political and economic exclusion. Ethnic minorities also have quite fascinating and distinct historical experiences which largely differentiate them from the other ethnic groups and these characteristics have been interpreted differently. They are prone to stereotyping and are also labelled as primitive and backward. Since they are rarely recognised they tend to lag behind in terms of integration into the developmental process. Basically because of their identity they usually fail to realise development due to the narrowing of developmental opportunities. Therefore with such experiences it is necessary for states to ensure that these groups realise development and promote their interest so that they benefit equally with the larger ethnic groups. In Zimbabwe there are a number of ethnic minority groups and the above characteristics match their experiences thus this study assessed what has been done by the government in terms of policy and programmes to ensure that they develop.
BACKGROUND OF THE STUDY
It is a common trend in most countries that ethnic minorities usually leg behind in terms of development and integration. This is largely due their identity which differentiates them from the majority and their needs are not usually recognised. The failure to recognise ethnic minorities has been deemed a hindrance to development. This has prompted the United Nations to seek a universal declaration or a treaty which compels member states to uphold, respect and protect the rights of minority groups that is allowing them to practise their culture as equals to the majority as well as allowing them to have equal opportunities and access to resources. This was the 1992 Declaration of the Rights of Persons Belonging to Ethnic Religious, and Linguistic Minority Groups. This was necessitated by the fact that minority groups face challenges like discrimination ,stereotyping , marginalization ,cultural dilution and exclusion because they usually constitute a very small percentage of the population. These challenges have led to the absence of development amongst ethnic minorities thus the International Declaration on the Rights of Persons Belonging to Minority Groups sought to compel member states to promote the recognition of minorities and ensure development amongst them through the enactment of policies that ensure equality in all sectors of life.
The declaration compels states to protect the existence and the national or ethnic, cultural, religious and linguistic identity of minorities within their areas of inhabitancy and to create an enabling environment for the promotion of their identities. Persons belonging to national or ethnic, religious and linguistic minorities hereinafter referred to as persons belonging to minorities have the right to enjoy their own culture to profess and practise their own religion, and to use their own language in all sectors of life that is in private as well as in public, freely and without interference or any form of hindrance .
The declaration further states that persons belonging to minorities have the right to participate effectively in decisions on the national and where feasible at regional level concerning their areas of inhabitancy in a way that compatible with their country’s laws. Minorities must also be given the chance to establish organisations aimed at promoting their cultural or religious practices, including educational or religious institutions. The declaration further states that people belonging to minorities must also enjoy their purported rights as well as those enshrined in the universal declaration of human rights.
It also that states must take measures were required to ensure that persons belonging to minorities may exercise fully and effectively all their human rights and fundamental freedoms without any hindrances and in full and this should be done in full equality of the law. States must also ensure minorities express themselves and that they develop their culture, language, religion, traditions and customs, except those practices that are in contradiction with the laws of the respective countries and international standards.
The declaration also states that governments should where feasible put in place measures in the fields such as education and the media to encourage knowledge of the history, traditions, language and culture of the minorities existing within their territory. Furthermore people belonging to minorities should have adequate opportunities to gain knowledge of the society as a whole. Therefore it is against these statutes of the declaration that the study will focus on the role played by the Zimbabwean government in ensuring that ethnic minorities realise development. The freedoms or rights stated above facilitate the existence of development amongst ethnic minorities and the fact that the declaration was made despite the fact there is the Universal Declaration of Human Rights of 1948 shows that the issue of ethnic minorities needs to be appropriately addressed and also signifies that ethnic minorities may have a different conceptualisation of development from the rest. Thus the study will be guided by this guideline that besides the dominant development paradigms what the Zimbabwean government has done to ensure that ethnic minorities realise development.
STATEMENT OF THE PROBLEM
Ethnic identity largely plays a role in terms of development in many states. It affects all sectors of life like political power distribution, resource distribution, participation as well as national policy formulation. Ethnic minorities are usually the ones mostly affected by policies designed by the majority the challenges which ethnic minority groups face have a huge bearing on their social , political and economic development. The failure to recognise and uphold the rights of ethnic minorities largely implies that the groups are not recognised socially economically and politically. It hinders the group’s participation in the development process as they are marginalised. Participation is a development indicator thus when ethnic minorities are hindered from participating their development is also affected. The needs and wants as well as their contributions are also not recognised in the formulation of developmental policies. Most of the development models applied in ethnic minority in