It is no secret that Matabeleland is completely isolated by the Zimbabwean political system. Matabeleland needs to change the system; failure to that, she will have to change her attitude. The first step towards change is self-awareness and the second step is self-acceptance.
History may not be everything but if we are to define Matabeleland’s political future, it is a good starting point. We need to look back at our recent political history to fix our political time of day. Our 34 year history within the ‘independent’ Zimbabwean systems has been nothing short of a socio-political disaster; the basis of Zimbabwean politics is ethnic Shona expansionism while constricting and weakening Matabeleland nationals’ influence in their own political space. Matabeleland’s gullible leadership is consistently and conveniently ‘rewarded’ with deputy roles within a system that does not recognise the authority of a Mthwakazian deputy.
It is also noticeable and disturbing yet predictable that Matabeleland youth have tended to pay scant attention to local politics. Contrary to popularised stereotypes, it has not always been the lack of interest but the fact that our youth are, in various ways, strategically forced out of the region. Bulawayo is depopulating and we know why; no one can deny the direct link with poor job prospects in the city. Significantly, our higher education institutions – home to political activism – are home to students from outside the region.
Harare politics is built purely on non-compassionate principles; it has no pity for Matabeleland minorities, it never will. Now to build Matabeleland’s political base, we need to acknowledge Zimbabwe’s policy incompatibility with Matabeleland but let the core of our policy formulation be local interests including culture and not the hatred of Harare.
Matabeleland has to recognise that identifying actions to avoid is an essential strategy; Matabeleland oriented organisations should resist the usual trap of coalitions with unitary Zimbabwe parties (irrespective of who leads the parties), desist from attacking locals for making the choices they make and resist making pointless calls for violence.
We need to address the perceived lack of local interest in local activities meant to promote local socio-political culture. Far from blaming Mthwakazians for perceived poor participation in local events, the organising socio-political groups need to continually review their own strategies and improve effectiveness of promotional events.
There is no lesser evil; evil is evil, Matabeleland politics needs not open doors to ‘lesser evil’ so as not to allow the greater one in. We are well-educated in the extensive damage the coalitions with Harare-controlled parties inflict on Matabeleland politics and politicians. The only organisation that will protect Matabeleland from undue infiltration will be one created by and for Matabeleland nationals.
We need strategic patience and political relevance with our people as opposed to desperate, if not irresponsible calls for violence. There is a lot to learn from groups such as Barotse in Zambia. Evidence clearly indicates that nonviolent resistance has generally outperformed violent resistance.
Doing the same thing and expecting different results is insanity; coalitions between Mashonaland-led Zimbabwean organisations and Matabeleland focused organisations have been futile; Matabeleland nationalists need to stay out of those. Blaming the Matabeleland citizens for failing to understand and/ or embrace nationalist projects is political convenience; nationalists have to make their politics comprehensible to the people; they need to present relevant politics.