Matabeleland interests will be better protected by federalism

The central and perhaps the most damaging feature of the Zimbabwean political system has been its centralised governance and an unhealthy affiliation with majority ethnic Shona social and cultural systems while actively and deliberately sidelining ethnic and/ or racial minorities. Zimbabwe needs to adopt a sincere system that is responsive to all ethnic and racial groups’ interests; significant transfer of real power to provinces and districts is imperative.

Fundamental in any political transformation is the electorate participation; Zimbabweans need to take an interest in politics or politics will continue to take an interest in them. The electorate’s “What does it matter to me?” attitude toward political matters is the surest way of maintaining the status quo. There is a point when patience stops being a virtue, Matabeleland citizens should no longer insist on their right to remain ignorant and blindly accepting of all the injustices from ethnic Shona biased leadership, ideas, systems, institutions and political organisations.

What needs acknowledging right now is the fact that Zimbabwe’s centralised government system has not secured liberty for Matabeleland except for a few Matabeleland politicians – individuals prepared to carry out the ZANU PF mandate instead of that of their constituents. ZANU PF continues to hold the electorate to ransom thanks to a naive population that has often allowed itself to be used and abused by the disgraced former liberation movement.

ZANU PF has largely maintained a grip on the ethnic Shona majority by engineering an external enemy that is the Ndebele community. The decades old falsehood that Ndebeles are a threat to both ethnic Shona people and ‘their’ territory and that ZANU PF is the protector of ethnic Shona people’s interests informs the perception that injustices against Ndebeles and Matabeleland are legitimate state interventions on behalf of the majority ethnic Shona people.

As for the majority ethnic Shona citizens of Zimbabwe, there has to be an understanding that there is nothing unpatriotic about rejecting injustices committed by ZANU PF and the MDC-T under the pretext of protecting ethnic Shona people interests. Any injustice against any ethnic group, no matter how small, leaves every Zimbabwean exposed to State sponsored abuse.

Let us get one thing right and clear: Matabeleland citizens and other racial groups in Zimbabwe are not concerned about being liked or disliked by the Zimbabwean ethnic Shona dominated State rather, all they ask from the government is that it acknowledges and respects their interests. Matabeleland citizens want to be able to make decisions about their lives.

It is delusional to think of centralisation and the first-past-the-post as the best political instruments for a diverse socio-political environment such as Zimbabwe. Under these processes, Zimbabwe’s socio-political functionality is heavily compromised as voices of smaller interest groups are drowned by the majority ethnic Shona group. If Zimbabwe is to regulate and accommodate social and cultural diversity, the federal system is the most appropriate political device to achieve that.

The success of Zimbabwe’s democracy lies not in the politicians but in the quality of the judgement of the citizens. We need to create a system based on respect of all citizens as opposed to the current paranoiac system based on fear of the unknown and thus the creation and maintenance of systems and institutions that seek to protect ethnic Shona people from Ndebeles and black people from white people.

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