Matabeleland activists have given detailed and moving accounts of the origins of the region’s current problems; the task now is to change the region’s political narrative. ZANU PF has pursued policies that have maximised resentment and its unpopularity in Matabeleland; the response to the unjust State treatment is the experience that should define the politics of the region. It is this experience that should come handy in the evolution of the region’s consciousness.
Political maturity is the ability to expressly define oneself, not the art of masking one’s true feelings. Matabeleland is rather too patient; the region is too tolerant! Without a doubt, comfortable inaction is the scourge of Matabeleland; Matabeleland citizens will be judged not by what they want to do in the future but what they do now. Pointless threats do not constitute taking action and should be avoided. Intelligent exaggeration can be a useful political tool but only if it is deliberate not desperate and the aims are clear to the one making them.
In December 2012, Matabeleland Liberation Organisation set a 2018 Matabeleland independence yet almost two years after the promise and four years to the promised independence there is no evidence of a real shift of political activity or authority in that direction. Such pointless declarations degrade instead of enhancing the Matabeleland political message as the carrier vessel itself becomes a joke.
The point of origin of the beginning of action is exactly the same as that of the end of inaction; people need to be clear about their goals. Matabeleland politics should be defined not by emotions and nostalgia but reason and action. Goals need to reflect sufficient understanding of the systems within which Matabeleland operate and these need to be realistic about what can be achieved and how.
The 2014 installation of Albert Zwelinzima Gumede as chief of Yeoville in Johannesburg and the proposal to expand the project sounds appealing to some groups within Matabeleland but, is that based on credible analyses of the real socio-political capital of such a move or simply nostalgia? A clear vision of the socio-political role of these appointees is essential or we will create monsters that we may soon be unable to rein in.
Judging by the first appointed chief, the whole process is shrouded in secrecy. The appointment was not conducted by the public but by some self-appointed ‘egomaniacs’ and local leaders. It is unethical and may thus be morally wrong to have such leaders influence public institutions and systems when their own mandates are not drawn from the public. A clear mandate, a scope of their roles and their power relations with both the ordinary citizens, local politicians and local politics is essential if these chiefs are to both represent the conscience of the people and be answerable to them.
History will not make Matabeleland, Matabeleland needs to make history. It is essential for Matabeleland nationalists to build a clear vision so as to adopt the right positive actions towards that vision. We cannot afford to be adjusting goals with every organisation that comes to being when what should be changing are the actions.