At independence the challenge for the black majority government was not whether it could govern the country but rather how well it could govern the country. We wanted to be an independent state, a state that could increase access to opportunities for its citizens, a state that could run its own affairs; this remains our dream.
Our desire for independence was to reform a dysfunctional social system saturated with inequality and discrimination that conflicted with our fundamental rights. Sadly, the main feature of the Zimbabwean government has been the political denial of the fact that the country is a union of two traditional states, Matabeleland and Mashonaland.
The political system is thus not befitting of a diverse, multicultural state. The ZANU PF-led government, an openly pro-Mashonaland and anti-Matabeleland movement, has focused on the derogation of anyone who holds no genetic connection with ethnic Shonas.
The government has sort to secure the independence, liberties and freedoms of ethnic Shona communities and the elite social class by brazenly managing non-ethnic Shona communities perceived to be a threat to Shona hegemony. Suffice to say some of the management tactics constituted barbaric state sanctioned use of brute force against any perceived enemies of ethnic Shona dominance.
Where ethnic origin is the major, if not the only qualification in the allocation of important socio-political and economic roles in society, the result is an unintended narrowing of a pool of talent to choose from. Gifts and ability are individual and not tribally allocated; if jobs are given to the best available candidates and not the ‘right’ tribes, we will see progress in Africa and Zimbabwe.
Zimbabwean institutions are weaker and more inefficient today than they were 36 years ago because ethnicity and corruption have overtaken ability in determining appointments to senior government positions. The Zimbabwean ‘independence’ presides over a widening gap between the rich and the poor, a rise in inequality at all levels of society, a worsening of the human rights record and a strengthening of despotism as opposed to the growth of open democratic processes in the country.
The current government is as unaccountable to black and/ or ordinary men and women as was the Ian Smith. The government has presided over a widening gap between ethnic Matabeles and ethnic Shona communities. In general, ZANU PF has failed to protect the ordinary men and women and the vulnerable from poverty; loss of human dignity and constraint of capacity of freedom and choice define Zimbabwean independence today!
Now that socioeconomic and political realism has overtaken the bellicose rhetoric of the ‘80s and ‘90s, we can all agree that the ZANU PF government has been a particularly bad joke. Discrimination is multi-layered and will require a good education to breakdown. We require an education that will liberate communities from ignorance. We are not independent, discrimination still exists and belonging to Matabele communities is inversely proportional to one’s access to opportunity.