Strategic compatibility is essential for the empowerment of Matabeleland; the region needs to get the basics and timings right. Suggestions by some Matabeleland political activists that only an armed revolution will grant Matabeleland independence must be viewed with respectful scepticism. What we are witnessing in the DRC, Syria, Afghanistan, Central African Republic, South Sudan and all the other regions that have opted to engage in armed violence brings to question the benefits of armed conflict for whatever political objective. Caution is advised, the historical fact remains that nonviolent means have been far more successful than the violent means.
The Zimbabwean political system is quite deliberately set out to expand ethnic Shona influence across Matabeleland while constricting the political space for all other ethnic groups. Matabeleland solutions do not however, lie in taking control of the Zimbabwean system but in the building of models that will make the Zimbabwean model obsolete within Matabeleland. Matabeleland socio-political leaders must build a framework in which the region will start to build itself. The region is acutely aware that the fundamental aspect of strategy is choosing which strategies to avoid: bravery and impatience are not the same; immature declaration of war is as dangerous a strategy as disturbing an enemy while they were making a mistake. What is required right now is the identification and taking control of systems Matabeleland has power over as opposed to craving control over systems strategically beyond the region’s control.
This is no time for shilly-shallying, Matabeleland citizens have little influence on who becomes Zimbabwe’s president but do have enormous power over who become the local legislators, people should use that power productively; we need to vote quality as opposed to political affiliation. Quality here means men and women with genuine interest in advancing the interests of the region not that of their political masters. People have power over endemic corruption, they should use that power to clean up society; stop supplementing wages for State institutions by paying bribes for public services. People have power over their languages; they should use those languages to uphold their traditions and culture. People have power over the use of their personal financial resources; they should use those resources to secure fundamental local socioeconomic institutions, including schools and other projects. People have power over their thoughts; they must be innovative and practical if they are to regain control of their region.
Besides the Zimbabwean system, the inactive local thoughtful individuals is most damaging in that it creates a vacuum often filled by active individuals and groups – who unfortunately will not think – to pursue both dangerous and unpopular socio-political models in the region. The problem right now is that Matabeleland is continually exaggerating the capabilities of the Zimbabwean State thus most of local ideals are characterised by disproportionately high defensive socio-political walls that have, for the last 33 years, been guilty of shielding our people from opportunities that have come by the way of the region.
It may sound a daunting task stepping out of the familiar zone and into a new but unknown path but it is no more difficult than remaining on the disabling zone. Matabeleland requires a proactive as opposed to a disproportionately defensive framework if local talent is to be used to advance the interests of the region. Minds have to change or we will not change anything in this century and the next one and the next. The keyword for Matabeleland is ‘practical’; we need to put the required human and financial resources into every project we desire.