Looking ahead, we need to be clear on the Mthwakazi we aspire to; people need to comprehend what taking control of our social, economic and political space would mean to the region and their lives. To achieve that we need to have a minimum level of credibility to challenge the status quo and call for genuine socioeconomic and political inclusion.
The current Mthwakazi agenda is almost entirely the work of men; the political space is being created and described from a male point of view, which they often confuse with the absolute truth. The absolute reality however, is that the current political space works for a few and not many; it is an obstruction rather than a driver of inclusivity in the region; women’s access to opportunity to real authority in that space remains a far cry.
I am not calling for women to be given undue preferential treatment but merely challenging the undue exclusion, deliberate or otherwise, of the largest constituency in our population from real participation in shaping our future. For the sake of progress, the Mthwakazi project social and cultural barriers that deny women access to real power need to be removed. The socio-political space will have to actively accommodate women for there is a limit to which any constituency in society tolerates being bound by laws over which it has no voice or representation.
The bitter experience of the ZANU PF misrule since 1980 should essentially help us create the framework of values from which Matabeleland operates. A truly successful Matabeleland will require a well-balanced, inclusive approach guided by a social conscience and not devoid of sensitivity. We should be consciously looking at building organisations in which no one is left out.
Our goal of an all-inclusive society that looks beyond race, ethnicity and sex, a society that embraces the marginalised will not be achieved until we actively and positively remove all barriers to women accessing opportunities in society. Male only and/ or disproportionately male dominated organisations cannot lay claim to being representative of Mthwakazi society today and into the future.
The key to building an inclusive society will be the removal of men biased standards of ability measurement. It is essential that women are fully involved right from the drawing stage of measurement standards in our society. Moral standards are more subjective than objective, whether standards are high or low is a complex assessment of societal, cultural, gender, religious, etc. interpretations.
We should not be surprised that most of our ‘high standards’ have not always led to high quality service delivery; those standards have tended to exclude large sways of communities in our midst. The standards set must be reflective of our society’s needs not just men’s wants. Policies need to be fair, they need to recognise differences between men and women; they have to be inclusive thus, actively facilitate equal access to the social, economic and political opportunities to all across society.
To increase the momentum of the Mthwakazi agenda, it is essential that people can picture out what they are fighting for and make objective decisions about the type and extent of their involvement. Even more important, the space has to be reflective of the region; individuals need to see themselves in the project; however, the reality is that the political space has yet to open up to the female constituency. We will need to actively reach out to our female constituency if we are to build a truly inclusive society. Let us pull down all cultural, social, economic and political barriers that deny women fundamental access to opportunities if not reducing their role to mere subordinates.