Although a proud and keen believer in Mthwakazi’s past and present-day traditional institutions and a subscriber in the notion that real Mthwakazi success should draw from local building blocks and not from duplicating other communities, I am a firm believer in the retention of only those institutions that are relevant to our communities’ needs and context. I respect our past and kings but I am not a monarchist.
My ambivalence about the restoration of a monarchy draws from a considered opposition to systems likely to protect injustice. Beyond excitement, the monarchists have yet to convince communities of the broader national benefit of this institution. The merit of restoring a 19th Century leadership system in the 21st Century Mthwakazi without credible reforms is questionable. What would be the duties of a monarchy? There is no clarification on how this institution will interact with politics while protecting itself from political manipulation.
Years of African dictatorship must come to an end. The restoration of an institution that will have unmitigated control over the public is baffling; a monarchy is incompatible with the world order many in Mthwakazi aspire to. We want to minimise and not widen gender inequality; we want to increase and not restrict access to opportunity to citizens irrespective of families they are born into; we want merit and not the mere chance of being born into a particular household to be the difference between success and failure. No single family should be afforded unchallenged access to the opportunity to reach the apex of Mthwakazi society.
A monarchy is no cheap institution. Morally, we can ill-afford to maintain the luxury of a King in a region lagging behind in most socioeconomic indicators. It is impossible to justify bankrolling luxurious lifestyles of particular families while the rest suffocate in fumes of ZANU PF socioeconomic policies?
We are failing to keep well-meaning local sociopolitical programmes afloat, how do we expect to fund a monarchy except if we want to create a sham? A weak institution will give ZANU PF an opportunity to step in, fund and ‘shield’ the monarchy from Mthwakazi sociopolitics. An unholy alliance of a king and ZANU PF that will expand and deepen Harare’s control of Mthwakazi sociopolitical space with devastating effect now and for generations to come will be born.
No matter how we try to dress a monarchy, it is just an unfair institution at the apex of an unfair socio-political class system. What role do people expect a monarchy to play that the current traditional leadership regime cannot play? If the fear is that many of our chiefs have a toxic alliance with ZANU PF what guarantees are there that a monarchy will be shielded from forming similar alliances?