A gentle no to the revival of a Mthwakazi monarchy

I am a fierce Mthwakazi patriot, I am very proud of our roots, proud of the heroic achievement of the monarchy, the disciplined military organization, nation building and leadership skills of our two kings – Mzilikazi and Lobengula – but a royalist I am not; I am a republican! The restoration of a monarchy is the least of our problems; economic and political insecurity remains our biggest threat today.

King Mzilikazi

King Mzilikazi, the first King of Mthwakazi

The primary goal for our generation now should be securing economic security and establishing socio-political systems that not only reflect our national needs but also protect our interests for the day; that system cannot be a monarchy. The configuration of Mthwakazi’s social and political environment has altered quite considerably; culture and customs evolve and so do needs and expectations.  Restoring the monarchy may be retrogressive in that instead of leading to an ethnic convergence it may actually lead to a devastating socio-political split within the Mthwakazi nation.

A monarchy is, for understandable reasons, appealing to Ngunis and particular ethnic groups yet perceived as discriminatory and unfair by non Ngunis. In short, a monarchy will be easily perceived as a biased institution only lending itself favourably towards the Khumalo clan. It is rather inconsiderate and indefensible for the 21st century Mthwakazi to even contemplate the creation of institutions governed by rules and laws that appear to entitle certain families to superior sociopolitical roles simply on the back of the achievement of their ancestors. Merit should be the only determinant of what individuals become; every child growing up in Mthwakazi should, ideally, hold equal chance as the next child to one day head the state irrespective of the ethnicity or race of their birth parents.

A modern Mthwakazi state should be guided by strong legislation that promotes among other socio-political factors gender equality, both ethnic and racial equality, social cohesion, promote true freedom and economic security for our Mthwakazi now and for generations to come.

King Lobengula (1845 - 1894), second and last Mthwakazi king (1870 - 1894)

King Lobengula (1845 – 1894), second and last Mthwakazi king (1870 – 1894)

While I am genuinely proud of our two great kings – Mzilikazi and Lobengula – I do not wish for us to have a king now; the Mthwakazi monarchy is finished, in fact that has been gone for a while. As relevant as the monarchy was for the 19th century Mthwakazi, I am skeptical of the relevance of such an institution in 21st century Southern Africa and Mthwakazi. Mthwakazi cannot afford to nurse the egos of some families within its borders while our socioeconomic structures are collapsing before us. Our primary goal should be the provision of early childhood education; for without a good education  we face a long-term national economic and political security crisis.

It is an undeniable fact that due to poor economic opportunities in the region very few of our young people pursue education to a higher level. They are forced to leave school early to pursue menial jobs in neighbouring countries or risk an uncertain economic existence within Zimbabwe. Economic insecurity is directly linked with political vulnerability in the region; our unemployed or poorly paid young people are exposed to socio-political manipulation and domination by Harare socio-political capitalists masquerading as business people and professionals. Mthwakazi needs a plan that will protect our long-term socioeconomic and political future; a king is not the solution but capital projects are!

I however, have no problem with the traditional leadership per se in Mthwakazi; in fact I strongly believe there is scope for broadening the involvement of the existing traditional leadership within a modern democracy. What is required is for our political system to work with our traditional leadership in the form of chiefs to clearly define the parameters within which the traditional leadership functions and ensure traditional institutions retain their powers while not compromising democratic political institutions as dictated by our needs but actually compliment them.

The restoration of a Mthwakazi monarchy maybe a misguided project with no benefits for the Mthwakazi nation beyond specified families; the broader impact of such a move will be devastating for Mthwakazi unity and stability. Without economic security Mthwakazi is nothing; to secure the long-term socioeconomic and political future for Mthwakazi we need to think capital projects and not Kings and Queens.

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