What Zimbabwean independence continues to teach us is that tribal politics earns votes but tribal governments fail. The current Zimbabwean political regime is a tribal, insensitive, divisive and monstrous regime, and I do not apologise for expressing that view, the regime meets and exceeds my criteria for such. If we are serious about equality in Zimbabwe, we need to start being honest about political deficiencies that threaten it.
When injustices are left unchallenged in dark alleys, they thrive and get out of control; they become the false norm that defines national policy. It is essential for Zimbabwean socio-political progress that we continue not to look away and pretend ethnic discrimination were not the single most important factor in the flawed socio-political system.
Injustice does not cease being an injustice because the majority share in it and how often it is repeated; majority tyranny contradicts the tenets of democracy; let us face up to the reality that minority ethnic groups are suffocating under the ethnic Shona dominance. ZANU PF and the MDC-T dominate Zimbabwean politics not because they present better packages for the electorate but simply because they are affiliated with ethnic Shona people and ethnic Shona people identify with them.
There are men and women of principle across all tribes in the country, Zimbabwean citizens need to take more responsibility, step out of the socio-politically constructed prisons of tribal affiliations and start looking at ideologies and policies in the context of the world they want to create for everyone, not for some.
False perceptions of a unitary ethnic Shona group, ethnic Shona superiority and ownership of all of the Zimbabwean geographic territory trigger anxiety and paranoia; significantly, they compromise objectivity in the debate and judgement on otherwise progressive socioeconomic and political ideologies such as the devolution of power as a form of governance.
The sense of entitlement among Shona people alluded to above leaves many thinking it is alright for them to walk all over everyone else to get whatever they want in the country. It is no surprise that many ethnic Shona people have now fallen for the politicised argument that devolution of power will lead to the break up of ‘their’ country hence they are no longer enthusiastic about the idea.
The reality however, remains that under the current centralised government system not all Shona ethnic groups and communities are in control of their lives, they are just as deprived as Matabeleland which is often erroneously viewed as Ndebele when it is a multiethnic region. Ethnic Shona people must appreciate that the current regime and not Matabeleland residents is the common enemy.
The majority of Zimbabweans fought too hard and too long against white imperialists not to fight against ethnic discrimination. The fight has to go on. Sad as it is, ethnic discrimination remains the single most important factor in Zimbabwean politics today! There is however, nothing special about ethnic discrimination for it not to be challenged; it is just as damaging as racism and all other forms of discrimination. Zimbabwe needs to confront ethnic discrimination head on and that goes beyond the mere allocation of political positions to ethnic minorities. The state has to create a socio-political space in which such matters as discrimination can be openly challenged.
Zimbabwe’s independence must not be the vehicle for ethnic Shona dominance but the active removal of all factors that threaten equality. Current institutions are flawed, ill-equipped and inadequate in their approach to all forms of discrimination. It is time to banish – from our socio-political space – all programmes, events and activities that inculcate and/ or promote ethnic Shona superiority while suppressing the significance of other ethnicities and races in the country.
If we want to come out of the past, corporately control the present and collectively secure the future as a unitary nation, we need to corporately acknowledge that Shona culture and social systems are not and should not be the basis of law and politics in Zimbabwe. Inclusion and not integration should be the focus of the independent Zimbabwe; ethnic Shona people cannot expect the rest of the social groups in the country to fit in within the exclusively ethnic Shona influenced system. Instead, the system must create a genuine socio-political space that would allow full participation by all ethnic groups in all of Zimbabwe’s systems and institutions.