We are tired of the Zimbabwean journey of segregation; whether built on racial or tribal bricks, barriers to access to opportunity remain barriers. Abuse is abuse whether committed by Harare or Salisbury. Tribalism is not better than racism; being segregated by a black Zimbabwean government on the basis of one’s ethnicity is no lesser evil or less embarrassing and no less disempowering as being segregated by the Rhodesian government based on one’s skin colour.
All oppressive systems are founded on arrogance and the perception of superiority of some ethnic or racial groups over others; they feed on appropriation of power by the elite and powerful over the poor and vulnerable.
The Zimbabwean political context proves again that the more the power is handed down to an individual, the greater the chances of it being abused which in turn proves correct the adage that ‘power tends to corrupt while absolute power corrupts absolutely!’ Equally true is that the longer individuals are allowed absolute power, the lesser the appetite to leave office and even more worrying, the greater the chances of not recognising they have outlived their usefulness.
As the independence journey continues, the Zimbabwean State has visibly become detached from the very constituency (the Mashonaland electorate) that until the late 1990s has been complicit in helping it secure its authority. On the contrary, Matabeleland’s reality of Zimbabwean independence has been consistently negative; the Zimbabwean government has been an alien force over Matabeles. The default position of the State towards Matabeleland is habitual emotional detachment encapsulated by the management instead of accommodation of Matabeleland. An instrument to empower ethnic Shona people, ZANU PF was also formed on hatred foundations with a mandate to carry out reprisal attacks against Ndebeles for the 19th Century invasion and capture of ethnic Shona territory by Mzilikazi (the founder and King of the Matabele nation).
I do not believe anyone who considers forcing wives, husbands, parents, children and neighbours to bury alive their relatives and neighbours in trenches as just a ‘moment of madness’ and expects everyone to emotionally move on has a legitimate moral claim of caring about the victims of his sanctioned abuse.
We cannot continue on this political path entrenched on denial and avoidance of our real problems. We need to openly confront our problems and effect appropriate political and institutional reforms. A reform (correction of abuses) and revolution (transfer of power) is urgently required if the unity of the two traditional states of Mashonaland and Matabeleland under a modern state of Zimbabwe is to remain consensual and not an arrogant imposition on Matabeleland. We must emphasise the importance of respecting diversity in society. There is a need for an attitudinal shift towards a political reform along ethical lines that would form the foundation for a political system that accommodates every community, boosts security and promotes economic growth.
Power redistribution across society is necessary to increase access to a larger pool of talent and increase accountability while reducing its abuse. Extensive public participation in politics should be the norm and not an exception; participation should extend beyond voting, let us insert legal provisions that allow for individuals to initiate any reforms via petitions.
Separation of powers would recover power from the executive and rebalance authority across the legislative, the executive and the judicial branches. The main obstruction to such reforms has been the intervention of disingenuous activists and politicians with uncanny motives who only raise Matabeleland calls for reforms so that they can demonise Matabeles as tribalists seeking to divide the country. These individuals and/ or organisations ignore the broad support of devolution among the public choosing to evade discussion on its merits.
Government and laws must not be alien to the governed. Civilians must take control of politics for politics to protect civilians from abuse of power by government; politics must promote respect for difference and accommodate diversity. Reducing and removing barriers that affect public participation will flush us out from the drain the politics of suspicion has plunged us into.