Free choice is all Matabeleland asks of Zimbabwe

When the generation before us saw the need for socio-political parity and thus, physically responded to the colonial remnant racist regime of Mr. Ian Smith, the primary objective was to establish not just a black led government but a peaceful, truly democratic, fairer and non-discriminatory society.

We need not fool ourselves but acknowledge we remain distant from that dream; Matabeleland is marginally free, it has hardly benefitted from the post-colonial freedom delusion fronted by ZANU PF. Yes, some individuals may have benefitted to date but the wider region has regressed. Zimbabwe’s democratic credentials remain tenuous and questionable at best. Matabeleland remains remote from decisions affecting its people; our choices have to fit in with the broader scheme of things as perceived by Harare or they are not accommodated.

Some robust debate is allowed but only within narrow limits determined by ZANU PF; our people have unfortunately learned how not to complain of tribalism for the fear of being called tribalists themselves; the independent Zimbabwe is a risible world in which the majority tribe liberally implores tribalism to impose and interpret laws and criminalise victims of such laws and their interpretations whenever they complain of injustice and discrimination.

This blog has previously argued that the first-past-the-post (FPTP) voting system was not suited to Zimbabwe’s socio-political configuration. Far from empowering minority groups, FPTP allows the majority free reign over minorities. The disparities of the FPTP system mean ethnic Shona creed is being systematically and ‘legally’ turned into law. Arguably, the constitutional changes that have overseen the executive hoarding all of the governing power and fundamentally weakening the legislature and the judiciary have been endorsed mainly by the majority ethnic Shona legislature while the idea of devolution of power has been illegally set aside because its proponents are minority ethnic groups and not that it is politically unviable.

The Zimbabwean State must accept the country is made up of two distinct traditional states – Matabeleland and Mashonaland – which should be allowed a great measure of self-management. Real democracy in Zimbabwe will be when the ordinary citizens of the two traditional states and not property owners have real access to power.

We must not shy away from a debate; first, we have to acknowledge the configuration of modern-day Zimbabwe which is two traditional states. We must then be able to hold a civil discussion between the two states; the current involuntary unity accord has merely papered over the deep cracks that have continued to widen and deepen. When there is no genuine sharing of power, no rule of law, no accountability there is abuse, corruption, subjugation and indignation.

If it seems unfair, feels unfair, it certainly is unfair! A society of peace cannot be achieved through violence; a state that discriminates against some races and ethnicities cannot build a society without discrimination. Our dreams of democracy cannot come to pass until democracy becomes a means as well as an end.

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