The reports accompanied by a disturbing video and images of renewed xenophobic attacks in parts of Durban in South Africa, the disappearance of over 200 girls and ongoing terror attacks in Nigeria and the many current civil wars within the independent African territory are a disturbing reminder of the continent’s continued failure to create a socio-political environment that is safe for diversity.
The independent Zimbabwe is no exception, it has not only failed to uphold rights of all ethnic groups but the country has failed to make itself safe for diversity. The Zimbabwe of today is a managed democracy that restricts public influence in governance; it is an unsafe territory for diversity; broadly the politics ignores the needs of social groups other than ethnic Shona.
Equality that attempts to treat unequals equal is tyrannical hypocrisy. Real empowerment means treating people according to their need; Zimbabwe needs to genuinely accommodate all ethnic groups in the country. The country’s political environment needs to afford every socio-political group space for people to grow to be who they are and exercise their diversity; we have to foster the art of thinking independently together.
It is thus essential for Matabeleland interested political groups to focus on the accommodation of the multiplicity of the region’s social space; isiNdebele must not be imposed as the official language in the region as has been the case in the independent Zimbabwe.
Matabeleland remains the biggest victim of Zimbabwe’s failing broader socio-politics; peace and socioeconomic progress continue to elude Matabeleland because we have, since 1980, been living within limits of laws drawn by the tyrannical will of ZANU PF, an ethnic Zezuru supremacist project. Increasingly, the official isiNdebele in the region is punctuated with direct Shona language phrases and grammar while other ethnic groups struggle to maintain their ethnic autonomy.
We cannot be complicit in allowing primitive tribalism to cement instinctive hostility between tribes in the region. For positive growth in Matabeleland, our politics needs to respect and preserve the ethnic and cultural diversity that exists in the region. We need to take an interest in differences between men and between cultures; there is no culture or men better than the other. The limits of laws in the region should be determined by the rights of other social groups and not mere tyranny.
The Mthwakazi I look forward to is a territory that will provide a safe place for all to lead good lives, no matter what their ethnicity or race may be. We need a social space that allows each and every social group space to grow and exercise its diversity. The independent Zimbabwe has failed to help Matabeleland create that territory.