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 to lurk in shadows, they thrive. We cannot continue to look away and pretend ethnic discrimination were not the single most important factor in the flawed Zimbabwean socio-political system. Injustice does not cease being an injustice because the majority share in it; 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.
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. False perceptions of a unitary ethnic Shona group, ethnic Shona superiority and ownership of all of the Zimbabwean geographic territory compromise debate and judgement on otherwise progressive socioeconomic ideologies such as the devolution of power as a form of governance.
Many ethnic Shona people have 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 remains that under the current centralised government system not all Shona ethnic groups 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.
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.