Trust is the base principle that will uphold and enhance the nationalist movement within Matabeleland; it is the glue that will link politicians and the electorate – it is the most essential ingredient in effective communication. Instead of rightly or wrongly making assumptions of people’s urgent need of an independent state, it is the building of trust that the Matabeleland nationalist movement needs to make a priority now.
One of the most difficult tasks in politics is learning to trust; too much trust can be dangerous but so is not trusting enough. A period of introspection is required, nationalists cannot get away with blaming the Mthwakazi public whenever the nationalism project flounders. We need to look at how the message is being delivered and how it maybe interpreted by our people. The best approach will be for nationalists to take the burden of responsibility.
Matabeleland nationalism’s immediate challenge is lack of depth in trust within the region’s political space and that has been down to poor communication. The greatest problem has been the assumption that what nationalists communicate is getting through to the people; good communication will be fundamental in building the vital political link between the people and the nationalist groups.
We have, on one side, mainly foreign-based nationalist groups working on the assumption that Matabeleland nationals want independence from Zimbabwe while on the other are locally based ordinary Matabeleland nationals whose focus seems to be changing the current Zimbabwean regime. Among the public, there is little to no confidence in the capabilities of nationalist groups. It is a disabling divergence that needs addressing urgently; the burden lies mainly with nationalist groups to convince the public that they know what they are talking about.
Nationalist groups need to draw a better understanding of the political factors on the ground if they are to lead a mutual political and strategic convergence with people on the ground. There are essential current political facts within the region that nationalists need to exploit, inform and draw policies and strategies from. The primary task is redirecting people to a nationalist agenda and away from the MDCs and ZAPU within Zimbabwe’s political landscape. There is the need to make sense of the hidden messages in Matabeleland politics – why are people voting the MDC-T but not independents or nationalist aligned, e.g. AKE candidates? We know that Matabeleland citizens have continued to vote against ZANU PF and that includes in Matabeleland South where ZANU PF ‘won’ all seats in 2013. The reality objectively supported by the 2013 election outcomes remains that in 8 of the 13 constituencies in Matabeleland South more people DID NOT vote ZANU PF; the ‘strong support’ of ZANU PF in Matabeleland South is a myth that needs dispelling once and for all!
It is a fact that the nationalist agenda is poorly publicized and thus very little is known of it outside the movement itself. It is a fact too that deliberately biased economic policies and poor economic activity in the region has left people vulnerable to ZANU PF and Zimbabwean politics for their survival. The Matabeleland nationalist movement is itself poorly funded and poorly coordinated to offer any sustained socioeconomic protection for its local support. Nationalists have largely failed to offer organised and reliable support to all Mthwakazians fighting for true freedom in the region. Supporting only the elite figures while neglecting the foot soldiers is a bad strategy that will have to be reviewed if the nationalist movement is to survive.
The biggest problem with communication is the illusion that it has taken place; only effective communication will lead to one Matabeleland with identical understanding and valuing. The responsibility of expanding the nationalist ideals, goals and potential benefits lies with the nationalist movement.