The politics of Matabeleland needs to shift from a position that sees us continually making apologies for Harare’s impact in Matabeleland to one seeking solutions to problems for which Harare is central. Our aim should be the preservation of our dignity now and for generations to come; that calls for a disciplined stance on matters of principle irrespective of what the majority think and say.
Matabeleland politics cannot continue being built on ephemeral policies guided by both internal and external opportunism. If privilege, and not principle, is allowed to drive politics in Matabeleland, politics in Matabeleland will continue being of little service to the people of Matabeleland; we risk having Zimbabwe as our perpetual authority and our needs being regularly turned into wants and wants into needs.
The first and most important political principle is that we the people of Matabeleland must not fool ourselves. Zimbabwean patriotism promotes ethnic Shona supremacy, period! Due recognition must be paid to the reality that doing Zimbabwean politics in Matabeleland has failed to and it never will empower Matabeleland and its citizens. We need to accept that any visualisation – by many of our ‘learned’ political leaders – of a truly free Matabeleland within the broader Zimbabwean patriotism context is delusional at best; that is a seriously flawed judgement that effectively betrays Matabeleland politics and Matabeleland people.
Zimbabwean interests run parallel to Mthwakazi interests; historically, Zimbabwean authorities, through their institutions, have systematically failed to demonstrate any meaningful interest to Matabeleland’s interests. We need to face the fact that one cannot be patriotic to both states. The majority of Matabeleland individuals and groups who have found a comfort zone within the Zimbabwean nationalist shelter have done so because it is politically easier, if not convenient, to fight for that bigger camp than to contest for Mthwakazi principles. We have amongst our leadership individuals prepared to compromise what little principle they hold if there is any sight of opportunity. If the Matabeleland patriotic agenda is to survive, we need to live by principle even if that, for a while, may mean remaining in the minority.
The principal aim of our generation’s politics should be creating new things and not merely repeating what generations before us have done. The challenges faced by PF ZAPU were different; PF ZAPU’s objectives of the time suited those challenges. We face different challenges, our responses need be congruent with challenges of our times. If the truth be told, the major handicap of the politics of our time has largely been the failure to either suit our lives to principles or suit principles to our lives. The result remains the same misguided belief that our solutions lie within the same Zimbabwean principles that are quite frankly the source of the greater proportion of Mthwakazi’s problems.
Matabeleland groups should be coming up with more ideas and testing principles. It is prudent to come up and hold on to principles at this time of disadvantage; without clear principles on which to base our political argument, Mthwakazi’s goals for true freedom remain a distant dream. This is the time for Matabeles to define parameters for their political moral values and draw principles that hold both validity and application in our society. Many ordinary Mthwakazians continue to struggle to identify themselves in many nationalist groups’ ideals and projects.
It should not matter how long it takes to alter the direction of Matabeleland’s politics for as long as principle lies at the heart of our decisions. We need to face up to the reality that Matabeleland patriotism is not compatible to Zimbabwean patriotism which is a Shona supremacist socio-political agenda. Without a doubt, being principled will alienate us from some of our own people: the only apology we need make is that of taking a principled stand of pursuing Mthwakazi patriotism but stopping taking the right actions should never be an option.