We can now confirm with a high degree of confidence that Zimbabwean politics has effectively accomplished independence for the political elite while overseeing the widest and still widening gap between politicians and the people. Politicians and their cronies have limitless access to whatever they wish for while ordinary people’s access to anything has constricted and continued to be restricted year after year.
Those familiar with the reality of 34 years of Zimbabwe’s ‘independence’ know that people are no closer to personal freedoms today than they were during Ian Smith’s UDI regime; Zimbabwean law has neither preserved nor expanded people’s freedom. Today people still have no right to their opinions and choices. How much the Zimbabwean public and Matabeleland, in particular, influence political outcomes in the country remains a political mystery if not a contentious subject.
The outcomes of the Zimbabwean political system are bad for ordinary citizens but they are particularly worse for Matabeleland. The Zimbabwean tyranny operated under the veil of law deliberately excludes Matabeleland nationals and effectively restricts their role in essential public services and institutions such as the media, higher education, public service management and other such roles. The result is that what is meant to be public policy is grossly unrepresentative of the region but effectively protective of Harare interests. It cannot be right that people of Matabeleland are governed by rules they cannot remotely identify with.
There is no doubting that the Zimbabwean political strategy in Matabeleland is not accidental; it is – as evidenced by the 1979 Grand Plan – a by-product of elaborate and targeted planning by ethnic Shona political strategists bent on empowering ethnic Shona people and Mashonaland. The principal feature of the Zimbabwean politics is the pursuance of a vindictive agenda against Mzilikazi’s kingdom and the calculated transformation of Matabeleland as is known today to a virtual Shona territory; it is no coincidence that we are increasingly seeing an effective invasion and occupation of Matabeleland prime land by ethnic Shona people not ordinarily resident in Matabeleland. Socioeconomic and political opportunities are deliberately and disproportionately distributed leading to an inconvenient socioeconomic and political outcome that oversees the siphoning of resources from the Matabeleland ordinary citizenry to the Mashonaland political elite.
Zimbabwe’s politics saves as a template of what happens when ignorance and arrogance are allowed to inform and sustain political ideology. Political ignorance amongst the general population is continually manipulated to sustain the political absurdity that keeps ZANU PF in power. Ethnic Shona people are fooled into believing that they should be protected from Matabeleland the ‘enemy’ and that they should be reclaiming ‘their’ land ‘stolen’ by Mzilikazi. On the other hand, black people are pitted against white Zimbabweans with whites being portrayed as a threat to ‘independence’ and black Zimbabweans given the right to reclaim ‘their’ land ‘stolen’ by whites. That remains the case as long as one has declared allegiance to ZANU PF. There is an unhelpful sense of entitlement among many ethnic Shona people and black ZANU PF supporters yet many of them remain victims of the same government claiming to be the sole protector of their rights.
It is strategically significant that Zimbabwean tyranny continues to use tribalism as its base; it is only that way that the oppression of Matabeleland can be viewed by the majority ethnic Shona population as a legitimate political policy. The growing gulf between the existing law and the needs of the people of Matabeleland is evidence the Zimbabwean systems are unrepresentative and unresponsive to the region’s social and cultural realities. Matabeleland cannot see its reflection in the mirror that is the Zimbabwean law. Instead of helping people of Matabeleland live their lives the way they want, the Zimbabwean law leads its own life within Matabeleland, a life completely divorced from the people it purports to guide and protect.