Just as we thought we had been freed from Ian Smith’s racist government and institutions tribalism took over the space. We were butchered – for nothing but being different – by those with whom we had suffered and fought racism together for decades. As Matabeleland, we continue to be suffocated under the blanket of tribalism, discrimination and perpetual disempowerment.
Unless we change our attitudes, we will never experience progress. The path that we have followed since that 1980 independence has been a circular one; we have been passing through the same points, led by the same leaders, with the same goals, endured the same obstacles, used the same solutions and got the same outcomes; suffered even more, blamed everyone else except ourselves. There is a point when excuses stop their usefulness, if not credibility; this is that time! The ring of evil needs to be broken down.
For long we have sort to change Matabeleland political circumstances but none of the critics, cynics and leaders have spent long enough talking about how we can change ourselves. Here, I argue that human progress has never been shaped by commentators (this blogger included), lounge complainers or cynics but by those who made physical sacrifices and physically confronted injustice wherever it showed up. The only best way of stimulating, supporting and protecting progress in Matabeleland is for Matabeleland people to be part of the change they want.
Fighting racism was alright only it was not backed by post-independence assurances and measures that protected civilians from abuse of power, put safeguards that ensured leaders were brought to account just in case the goals of independence were unmet purely through human error. We thus were left even more vulnerable to abuse of power after the decapitation of the racist government and institutions of Ian Smith because we assumed progress was automatic and inevitable instead of something to be continually worked on.
Our future political orientation should be motivated by the courage and desire to change things. The political scene must not allow the existence of the idea of impossibility. That is a view held by the lazy, unimaginative, uncreative cowards who have held back our progress. Changing Matabeleland will not happen through clearing the geographical, social and political space of ethnic Shona people but riding ourselves of all forms of discrimination and allowing all citizens and our visitors the chance to be the best they can be; that is the only route to the broader progress of our region.
Change at times means going backwards, we know that Mzilikazi’s Mthwakazi was a diverse nation; we have learned too from the Zimbabwean experience that clearing a region of certain people does not of itself clear bigoted policies. Zimbabwean authorities cleared government and its institutions of most white people and replaced them with black people yet retained all that which the Smith government stood for – discrimination and added even worse, Gukurahundi atrocities being the prime example.
As already alluded to, let us rethink our politics; let not our expectations for the future be anchored by stereotypes that have held us back for decades. This race to the bottom has seen race, tribe and clan being essential features of our politics. We need to move away from the clan mentality; Matabeleland needs skilful leaders who will have courage to seize opportunities to change things for the better.
There is no progress without change, let us fear not the possibility of having to change long-held beliefs; there is no change without putting ideas into practice. Our political foundation has to be set on courage to change when there is reason to do so. For some time, we have placed constraints on our progress, we have set up walls around innovative minds, set barriers to our progress by limiting the pool of talent we have access to through placing unnecessary blockades by elevating race, tribe, clan, gender, sex and religion over ability.