There is no greater irresponsibility than standing by and watching your nation lose control of its socio-cultural and political fabric. We have stood by and therefore been effectively complicit in the fraudulent Zimbabwean electoral process. However, all is not lost, change is possible; the starting point of all change is desire.
The Zimbabwean electoral process is a fraud that continues to legitimise the violation of minority rights by majority voters. In our entire life of voting in Zimbabwe we, the Matabeleland people, have sort to vote for the best man but that man has never been a candidate. Gibson Sibanda could not be the leader of the MDC – the major opposition party – because he came from the ‘wrong’ ethnic group.
I can confidently argue that Welshman Ncube espouses great political ideas befitting of a diverse socioeconomic and political space as Zimbabwe but he stands no chance of winning a Zimbabwean presidential election because of his ethnic background.
We need to start working our way out of that prison; first, we need to trust ourselves, that means being comfortable with who we are. We need to create the self that we will take pride in for generations to come. Matabeleland’s success will not be brought by how loudly we complain about the bricks being thrown at us but by what we do with the bricks.
Over the years we have voted ourselves into complete dependence on a despot. Through injudicious actions of many good Matabeles who opt out of all political activity, Matabeleland has been sending opportunists as our representatives to Harare and our political interests have taken a hit as we continue to suffer slave-like conditions.
We are responsible for what Matabeleland is today; addressing the current situation is our political priority and that means taking difficult decisions. Boycotting elections as proposed by some nationalist groups may sound appealing but it is not a solution; past election boycotts have done nothing but given ZANU PF easy victories and empowered despotism over rationale. Government is us, not some extra-terrestrial force; Matabeleland electorate has to find ways of using their vote creatively in what has become a difficult socio-political environment.
We need to stop just voting, start taking an interest in what we are voting for and stand by that. One of the most important elements of any electorate is to question; before people vote they need to start asking themselves the following questions: Why am I voting? What will be the possible outcome? Will it change my life?
We will have to use the election process intelligently to establish effective local corridors of power. Let us choose what elections to participate in and which ones to stay away from. For instance, participate in all local government elections and then ensure our representatives represent us not themselves in Harare.
Silence in the middle of injustice is consent. Matabeleland cannot continue to quietly accept second class status in Zimbabwe; we need to make sure the 1980 independence euphoria is no longer allowed to drown our demand for genuine independence. We need to start using our vote selectively and creatively to ensure we build genuine local political power.