Development is not a phenomenon that will just happen to Matabeleland; Matabeleland citizens will have to make it happen. We are acutely aware that no nation has ever developed on the back of socio-political powerlessness; Matabeleland must gain control of its socio-economic and political space first.
As a socio-political blogger, a citizen and friend of Matabeleland, I am no less worried about ZANU PF injustices in Matabeleland than I am worried about Matabeleland youth inaction and the apparent disinterest in regional things that matter.
Short-term inaction breeds long-term discomfort; an enlightened and active youth is central to the building, maintenance, continuity, the renewal/ rebuilding of socio-economic and political institutions of a society. Gaining control of Matabeleland’s socio-political space must not be seen as an event but an enduring process that will require a lot of patience and intellectual input in addition to sustained enthusiasm and commitment. The younger generation has to be shown the possibilities and responsibilities that everyone bears for the region to command its destiny.
Matabeleland youth have fallen into a systemic and damaging delusion of inferiority, a delusion of a Matabeleland future without hope and the inevitability of Harare dominance. The youth has learnt to tolerate the intolerable: tolerate state failure to facilitate equal access to opportunities, tolerate unemployment, and tolerate incompetence. The reality is that there is hope for a recovery and every chance for the region to control its socioeconomic and political space but the youth have to be an active part of that process of recovery.
We have to inculcate, in our youth, a culture of active participation in all processes that matter in the region, and that includes voting. At the moment the most important target is reducing apathy and increasing the visibility of the youth on the socio-political landscape of Matabeleland. While arguments against participation in elections whose legitimacy is questionable are valid, Zimbabwean history teaches us that non-participation merely endorses the status quo.
What will be the objective of advising youth non-participation in Zimbabwean administered political processes when the active older generation is voting the older generation politicians who have not delivered for Matabeleland? Our youth have to get into the habit of publicly registering their choices and influencing their destiny; choices do not cease to exist because the present regime refuses to acknowledge them.
There is no substitute to planning and discipline when it comes to fighting a monster or one becomes a monster him/herself. A controlled approach to the incorporation of the younger generation into the socio-political environment of Matabeleland is required. All young people from the region, in particular, seventeen to twenty-four year olds must not be allowed the dubious honour of bragging about ignorance; they must not be blindly agreeable to the mechanisations of liars and panderers in the current government. Material and human resources need to be mobilised to educate young people about Matabeleland’s historic socioeconomic and political context, the trials and tribulations of the region in the last century, in particular in the last thirty-three years!
Matabeleland must actively create conditions that will facilitate effective socio-political integration and participation of young people in the region. Universities and colleges are vital institutions for socio-political debate and creativity but that works effectively when the university/ college population can identify with the lived experiences of locals. To sever effective socio-political ties between locals and academic institutions, the Zimbabwean regime has strategically flooded these institutions with students and staff from outside Matabeleland.
Without the advantage of access to a receptive ready-made pool of educated and socio-politically critical young people Matabeleland must be creative in how it encourages and promotes a sustained socio-political participation by its young people scattered around the southern African region.
Perhaps the first step should be the targeting and strategic withdrawal of young people from ‘youth structures’ headed by fifty year olds from the main political organisations that have saved to manage Matabeleland youth for the benefit of Harare. Instead, small targeted activities and projects that will be able to offer advice and support to youth structures run by the Matabeleland youth for the benefit of Matabeleland must be instituted. Young people must be engaged in socioeconomic and socio-culturally relevant events in their locality. This will be essential for effective role modelling, understanding, identity creation and preservation.
The youth have become consumed in the helplessness of their misery that non action has become their ordained socio-political escape. Inaction must never be an option as it does nothing but breed doubt and fear and surrenders control of the socio-political space of the region. The culture of socioeconomic and political participation is essential and that needs promoting. Matabeleland must creatively integrate young people in all its socioeconomic and political activities in the region.