No Mthwakazi without inclusion

Lest we be misinterpreted by enemies of progress, I state henceforth that our growing rejection of the Zimbabwean political regime is not inspired by the aspiration to exclude ethnic Shona citizens from Matabeleland society but the recognition of the fallibility of ethnic discrimination and an even stronger desire to create and establish a kind of politics that is inclusive of every race, ethnicity and every community in our midst.

The reality of Zimbabwean independence is that it is an unfolding and unending nightmare; the exodus of Matabeleland citizens to neighbouring states has been more of constructive dismissal by the Zimbabwean state than purely elective migration; we have been subjected to unimaginable physical and emotional brutality; we have experienced Gukurahundi and the shame of being forced into secondary roles within the Zimbabwean structures.

The lesson we have drawn from our experience is that discriminating against certain communities is a socio-political choice not a societal or economic or a political necessity, and certainly not a need. We have learned that the one nation ideal is never created by merely exercising authority to impose one nor by crushing different ethnic groups but through inclusive policies that encourage voluntary participation.

We have the responsibility to refuse to partake in a project that promotes the appropriation of power by certain ethnic groups while unfairly denying access to opportunity to all others; a project in which the rich and well-connected further enrich themselves at the expense of the poor who are getting poorer with every year of ‘independence’ is obscene and not worthy of preserving.

A truly different Matabeleland should have the people as the highest authority in the state; the continued election of legislators who spend 80 percent of their tenure in Harare helping to maintain a dictatorship that has snatched power from under our feet has left us out of control of our lives and unable to challenge these so-called leaders who are supposed to be answerable to us, and not the other way round, and protect us from the abusive Zimbabwean systems. We need Matabeleland social and political groups to proactively come together to pursue a democratic agenda that genuinely includes every ethnic group and/ or community in the region.

The Matabeleland we require is a society in which no single ethnic group or social group appropriates power and denies access to opportunity to all others; we refuse to partake in political projects that empower some and not all communities. We will have to tackle all barriers to access to opportunity. In the current Matabeleland restoration politics, there has been very little attempt at including ethnic Tonga people among other minority ethnic groups. We need to adopt the stance that ‘nothing about and for any Mthwakazi ethnic group without that ethnic group’. All ethnic groups should be given the platform and resources to determine their destiny.

The power structure will have to change at national level; access to authority should be extended to all. We need to overhaul the entire national leadership structure; politicians are not our bosses but servants; politics must be the route for those who aspire to serve their communities while the business route would be ideal for those pursuing personal wealth creation. Direct democracy is the way forward, an individual in a village should be able to initiate change in the way their country is run. The evidence of Switzerland shows us that it is not beyond the realms of human imagination and political execution to accord everyone equal access to power without degenerating into chaos.

We are a multi-ethnic region; our solutions need to reflect that diversity or else they become redundant and instead of being solutions, become a major part of our problem. Having due regard for advancing equality in Matabeleland will require the removal of (or minimising) disadvantages suffered by certain communities in the region; it will require us taking profound steps to meet the needs of all communities and actively encouraging people from disproportionately misrepresented communities to participate in public life and other activities where their participation is disproportionately low. To help empower communities change from within and improve their lives, we need to improve access to resources (information, technology, power, etc.).

We need to put to a halt the systemic drain of authority and capital flight from villages to urban centres (which, thanks to colonialism, have functioned as centres of economic and political authority in Zimbabwe and Africa). Economic planning needs to be reviewed; our rural communities do not exist to subsidise urban low wages and urban opulence.

Concentrating power on certain ethnic groups and in the process deliberately or constructively excluding others is morally wrong, economically disastrous and politically flawed; it breaches the human rights of entire communities. A different Matabeleland system will have to actively involve everyone; if not in English, let every leaflet dropped in Binga be in Tonga; every leaflet dropped in Gwanda be in Sotho, every leaflet dropped in Beitbridge be in Venda, etc. and certainly be inspired and authored by locals. This is the right thing to do; no community should be governed by laws and rules drawn off the needs and expectations of communities other than itself.

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