A truly new start begins from within even though it may be triggered by external stimuli. Our worries for the future should not stop at the worrying stage, they should transform into planning for the future we want. Being in the right direction is not everything in itself; for we may be on the right track but we risk getting run over if we just sit there.
What has long disrupted Matabeleland political progress has often had nothing to do with ZANU PF ingenuity but our collective failure to go all the way in pursuing our goals. For much of Zimbabwean independence, Matabeleland people have falsely believed they too were free; by so doing we condemned ourselves to worse enslavement.
Matabeleland socio-political space retains a small but influential sample of individuals who have secured ZANU PF favours and done well for themselves within the Zimbabwean system; for them Matabele attitudes and not Zimbabwean systems are the problem. In the company of such brothers and sisters who needs enemies?
These individuals remain a valuable asset for Zimbabwean authorities who are keen to give the impression access to opportunity is by nothing but merit and merit only. We may, at long last, be getting it right in that many Matabeles now recognise and accept that Zimbabwean independence has failed to bring independence to Matabeleland. Matabeleland needs to keep moving but that requires the realisation that our future is greater than our past and that our wisdom will not be drawn from a mere recollection of our past but by taking responsibility for our future.
We remain politically shallow because our political parameters continue to be defined by ZANU PF perceptions of what constitutes a good education and good politics. The system has successfully convinced some locals that Matabeles lack motivation to study and attempt to justify the importation, into the region, of skilled yet unsuitable staff. The reality is that the primary concern of ZANU PF’s importation of ethnic Shona staff into the core of Matabeleland is the expansion of Shona influence and not merely filling skills shortage in the region.
The way forward is for Matabeleland to create its systems. If we do not, we will forever be in Harare’s pocket. For a start, let us actively address the imbalance within the education system; the delivery of the education needs to be favourable to Matabeleland children. The delivery has to be redesigned in conformity to the needs of Matabeleland children and not Zimbabwean political systems.
Our focus should be building stronger bridges across the cracks that separate our diverse society which is the reason I have in the past expressed reservations over the restoration of the monarchy. We must guard against the path followed by many African governments who have been in denial of their failure to protect the poor and vulnerable of their human dignity and constraint of capacity for freedom and choice.
The gap between our imagined world and the real world has widened beyond imagination with each passing year of Zimbabwean independence. We need systems that promote equal access to opportunity to every citizen irrespective of their race, ethnicity, social class, and gender among other sociocultural factors. Matabeleland citizens will have to take a leading role in shaping the politics of the region.