Opinions remain opinions no matter how many times and how boldly they are expressed. Let us get this right, we are not entitled to our opinions. Rather we are entitled to our informed opinions. None is ever entitled to be ignorant.
It is an opinion, perhaps an erroneous one, that devolution is the only route to Mthwakazi empowerment as much as it is an opinion that Mthwakazi’s independence can only be attained via the devolution detour; it is an opinion too that Mthwakazian empowerment is only guaranteed in an independent Mthwakazi state.
Conversations on what course of action would deliver a better all-round outcome for the future of Mthwakazi have a strong subjective component about them yet formulating arguments against facts is an improbable act. It is a fact that under the current political arrangement Mthwakazi remains marginalised; and in a state of servitude and /or in forced loyalty; it is a fact that the ZANU, ZANU PF and later ZANU PF and MDC-T project has never been to oversee the socioeconomic and human development of Mthwakazi but to gradually dismantle all symbols of Mthwakazi historical and cultural existence.
Today’s Zimbabwean history books and education bear testimony to the deliberate attempt to consign Mthwakazihood to a state of oblivion; the voice and contribution of Mthwakazi heroes (the living and the dead) to society is often ignored, if not distorted. There is the perennial underfunding of science teaching resources and the now customary empty promises, e.g. the illusive $40 million for the rehabilitation of Bulawayo industries supposedly secured by the ministry of industry from treasury. There is also increasing but unwelcome influence of the Zezuru language to local Mthwakazi languages, in particular Ndebele. It would appear Mthwakazi languages are bizarrely and fast becoming direct translations of Zezuru. The result is unforgiveable grammatical and spelling errors.
The objective of the two major political organisations in Zimbabwe are in conflict with Mthwakazi desires, there is no convergence of socio-political interests. Arguably, it is impossible to have a Zimbabwean and Mthwakazi hero rolled in one. While Mthwakazi Zimbabwean loyalists may have the best interests for Mthwakazi and genuinely see devolution as providing for that opportunity, Zimbabwe’s interests however, lie in the containment of Mthwakazi; devolution does not excite both ZANU PF and the MDC-T. The conflicting political interests between Mthwakazi and the independent Zimbabwe dictate that it is either an individual is a hero in one nation or the other and not both!
It is vital at this point to dispel some lies peddled by those organisations opposed to the Mthwakazi independence agenda. Telling the truth about the subjugation of Mthwakazi by the Zimbabwean government is not tribalism; facts are not hate. Mthwakazi centrism, and not bigotry, remains the most reliable and potent tool by which Mthwakazi consciousness will be raised among the young Mthwakazians who are the future of the nation. The only ones to worry about their circumstances are those with an awareness of their roots; those who are proud of themselves and above all know what their circumstances mean; the only slaves to seek an escape are those who know they are slaves.
While there maybe an element of truth in that devolution is the best opportunity for Mthwakazi to chart her own direction with little interference from Zimbabwe, I fear that such a view may be mainly borne out of fear of upsetting the establishment than a genuine conviction in the benefits of devolution. Mthwakazians have perfected the art of subservience.
Instead of talking independence and risking the prospect of a collision with Harare, Mthwakazian political leaders would unfortunately settle for safe choices. This point is quite significant when one notes that the two Mthwakazi-led pro unitary Zimbabwe political parties opted to impose (on their supporters) candidates from Mashonaland in the 2008 presidential elections. That certainly was neither strategic nor brave leadership; only time will tell if these leaders and their devolution agenda can be trusted. Mthwakazi politicians need to understand that it is not beneficial for them to maintain a neutral position on issues Mthwakazian when Mashonaland politicians are unambiguous about their stance on Zimbabwean interests.
Independence provides the best opportunity for lasting Mthwakazi freedom. However, as history has taught and continues to teach us, geographical territorial independence alone does not of itself guarantee individual or collective rights, freedoms and equality.
Straddling between Mthwakazi and Zimbabwean interests is undesirable neutrality that will never change the circumstances of ordinary men and women in Mthwakazi; it may result in accolades from Zimbabwe for individual Mthwakazi politicians but true freedom for all Mthwakazians will remain elusive. This is the time for Mthwakazians to stand for what is right.