Far from permitting our consciences to be formed by ZANU PF influences, we need to revisit our roots, not to stay there but to help inform our future. Our roots lie in the multi-ethnic nation built by King Mzilikazi in the 19th Century and based on the accommodation, not management, of different ethnic groups. This foundation, and not the ZANU PF values, should influence Matabeleland notions of good and evil.
While there maybe legitimate diversity of opinion among Mthwakazi nationals about how to deal with the apparent ethnic discrimination employed by Zimbabwean authorities to manage Matabeleland and maintain an ethnic Shona hegemony, retaliatory tribalism is not to be the answer. When we attempt to fight tribalism with tribalism we are bound to cause trouble within the Matabeleland society whether we mean it or not. The minute we start valuing individuals on the basis of last names over which no individual has control, we have lost our moral compass.
‘Retaliation is related to nature and instinct, not to law. Law, by definition cannot obey the same rules as nature’ (Albert Camus).
It is thus, critical that as Matabeleland we try to understand the importance of not creating a system whose only default is retaliation. A nation governed by an endless cycle of resentment and retaliation is doomed for failure; employing tribalism only doubles tribalism; we will not empower Matabeles by showing intense hatred of ethnic Shona people or any ethnic group for that matter.
I have neither faith nor respect in retaliatory policies and systems nor trust of motives of movements that employ such an approach. Violent movements attract opportunists, thugs and firebrands who rejoice in chaos. When we employ retaliatory measures, the enemy also sets himself up for retaliation and we risk descending into even worse standards of tribal hatred within our boundaries. The result is the alienation of third parties who might otherwise support our cause.
Retaliatory attitudes compromise moral judgement. For instance, condoning the breaking of a law simply because we do not like the victim of a crime and that the perpetrator of the crime is from a tribe we positively associate ourselves with is barbaric, to say the least. We cannot expect to run a fair society when we allow subjective and/ or undue flexibility in the interpretation of laws meant to guide how our society functions. Human rights are absolute, laws that protect human rights must protect rights of all, not some, residents of Matabeleland.
Let us wage a robust moral and political war against ZANU PF-led tribalism that has relegated Matabeleland and Matabeles to the doldrums of society since the 1980 Zimbabwean independence. We cannot claim moral superiority over ZANU PF if we embrace, as opposed to tearing apart, their template. We do not want a government that only meets the needs of one ethnic group while being inadequate to all others. We must have an equal standard of morals; setting and legislating equal moral standards across Mthwakazi is the only best way of ensuring that.
Fighting tribalism with tribalism is still tribalism and no tribalist can claim higher moral ground over the other. The one sure way of rising above the ZANU PF crafted and maintained tribalism is not by being tribalists too but by raising our moral bar; our demands for moral authority and character should be a mutual reflection of the importance we place upon ourselves.