There is an understanding among most pro-Mthwakazi stakeholders that Mthwakazi independence should not just be a goal in itself; instead, it should be the basis for meeting the socioeconomic, cultural and political challenges currently facing all Mthwakazians in the unitary Zimbabwe today; it should be the bedrock for the promotion of sustainable development, equality of opportunity as well as building good governance. However, it is no secret that there are strategic differences among Mthwakazi nationalists – parties and interested individuals – when it comes to the route to independence. The effect of devolution on independence has come under scrutiny from many including this author in the last few weeks.
To some people devolution is an essential, if not inevitable route to Mthwakazi independence; it supposedly offers Mthwakazi a vital graded exposure to self-governance before full independence is attained and that according to the advocates of devolution is essential for a smooth transition to sovereignty. However, to others devolution represents a ruse by the unitary Zimbabwean conservatives whose interest is to perpetuate Zimbabwean rule over Mthwakazi while enabling those individuals and groups to protect their personal ambitions and interests.
I fail to understand why people think Mthwakazi needs to go through some governance apprenticeship under the tutelage of ZANU PF and/ or MDC-T government when Zimbabwe has quite frankly failed to govern itself.
The Zimbabwean government has quite clearly failed in many of its social and economic indicators: it has failed to keep its own currency; it has failed to improve the living standards of its citizens; it has failed to uphold the rights and freedoms of its citizens; it has failed to fairly distribute land to its poor citizens; it has woefully failed to make the economy work fairly for all its citizens, it has failed to narrow the gap between its rich and the poor; the water and energy policy has been woefully inadequate, how then can it be trusted to teach Mthwakazi how to govern herself? Zimbabwe has presided over a decline in real terms of the social and economic infrastructure in Mthwakazi.
Under the circumstances it sounds rather preposterous that anyone would prescribe a devolution process overseen by the Zimbabwe government as the necessary and inevitable route to Mthwakazi independence. Are we to believe Zimbabwe will suddenly overcome its paranoia about Mthwakazians, come up with a political masterstroke that would give Mthwakazi a genuine basis upon which she will govern herself while Zimbabwe will actively and voluntarily abandon its policy of managing Mthwakazi? Genuine devolution, let alone independence, is not in the interest of the Zimbabwe-orientated political organisations. If anything, for many Zimbabwean conservatives, giving Mthwakazi any degree of self-determination will be crossing the Rubicon.
In 32 years of successive ZANU PF dominated governments Mthwakazi is further from herself culturally, economically and politically than she ever was under the white minority colonial governments through much of the 20th Century. Anyone believing Zimbabwean authorities will adopt devolution and give Mthwakazi reasonably sufficient powers to govern herself is delusional at best. If Zimbabwe was not interested in the direct management of Mthwakazi, Harare would by now be offering federalism as an option at the least. I cannot phantom unitary Zimbabwe conservatives suddenly opening constituency surgeries educating Mthwakazians on what it means to be truly independent.
Contrary to current popular wisdom, Mthwakazi does not and will not need devolution to gain experience to govern herself. The only sure way by which Mthwakazi will gain the required experience to govern herself will not be via an apprenticeship overseen by a Zimbabwean government (a government whose lack of justice leaves it no less than organised robbery) but by acquiring free reign over her socioeconomic, cultural and political circumstances. One may be forgiven for suggesting that the argument for devolution is based on the false premise that the arid Mthwakazi is being subsidised by Harare thus, the myth that Bulawayo needs a period of some safe orientation into governance by Harare is built; well, Botswana is just as dry if not drier!
Without a doubt any of devolution, confederation and federalism will be a good form of governing a socially and economically diverse Mthwakazi but the suggestion that devolution should be the choice route towards independence is misplaced as long as it is overseen by Zimbabwe. Mthwakazi will always respect Harare as an international neighbour but not as a political mentor. Mthwakazi does not need self-governance tutorials from a state that for 32 years has failed to govern itself. Devolution of power in a unitary Zimbabwe context is a misnomer; Harare will never in real terms grant Mthwakazi substantial power to determine her cultural, social and economic circumstances.