Zimbabwean independence has been a race between ZANU PF’s longstanding pet project of converting Matabeleland into an appendage of a Mashonaland pseudo-kingdom and Matabeleland trying to develop and maintain its unique identity, and so far the ZANU PF project is winning. Gukurahundi did not stop at signing of the Unity Accord in 1987 but was merely modified; we have seen poverty increase in Matabeleland, and witnessed loss of real influence in decisions affecting our lives; even more concerning, some of our people have fallen for the ZANU PF propaganda that blames the victim for being abused.
We are further from decisions impacting our lives today than we were at the start of 1979. This has nothing to do with the often told lie that Matabeleland nationals do not value formal education but a deliberate construct of unfair resource allocation right across the socioeconomic and political spectrum beginning in April 1980. The false construct of our resentment of formal education cannot stand scrutiny, it does not explain the lack of government investment in education in the region.
To date certain population groups in our society (the majority of Matabele women and men with no links to ZANU PF or the MDC-T elite, people living in rural areas, people with special needs, etc.) have no access to basic amenities and all have restricted access to opportunity. This has to stop with our generation; we need to be prepared to disagree with the culture of universal conformity nurtured and brutally sustained by Zimbabwean authorities since 1980. Confronting injustice is not a threat to national security but a deliberate and proactive intervention aimed at stopping insecurity.
It is our responsibility to identify what we can do to contribute to the peace, safety and real growth of Matabeleland. To that end, let us take our experiences within the Zimbabwean political space as an opportunity to show our strength and stability. We have our values, let us use them to reconstruct our policies and social systems.
Moving forward, we want to maintain a good balance between complaining about ZANU PF policies and effectively working on systems that conform to the fundamental nature of Matabeleland’s diverse society. To begin our fight, tough decisions have to be made, we need to be rid of all local leaders who have made it a career to apologise for ZANU PF imperialism, tribalism, Gukurahundi and all forms of deliberate injustice against Matabeleland and its nationals by Zimbabwean authorities.
We have learned from our Zimbabwean experience that dictators do not bring stability. There cannot be real peace and stability when many communities remain distant from decisions impacting their lives. Our future viability, stability and security cannot be promoted by modified Gukurahundi policies and institutions but through genuine empowerment of Matabeleland. It is up to us to build and maintain institutions that reflect us and our needs; only such institutions will prove vital in the battle of minds and hearts to win over this and the next generation to the Mthwakazi project and away from ZANU PF toxicity.
Let us build systems that would be open and stable enough to maintain a good balance between addressing the expected and coping with the unexpected; we need to be prepared to accommodate both the enrichment and disruption that the diversity of opinion may bring in the region’s socio-political space; our politics has to be based on objective flexibility to be ready for reforms when and if need arises.
The Matabeleland we need to create is one that recognises ability over family ties and one that denies disenfranchisement of communities. We want to create a country that recognises minority rights and human rights to achieve stability necessary for development. Through a robust set of rules and regulations, the majority groups should be restrained from oppressing minorities or even encroaching upon their rights.
Demanding that our unique qualities are recognised and that we experience our identity without interruption does not interfere with Zimbabwean social stability. Zimbabwean authorities must not resist Matabeleland human rights on fallacious claims of protecting national security and the falsehood of maintaining cultural security. Decisions about Matabeleland lives must originate from Plumtree, Kezi, Filabusi, Gwanda, Beitbridge, Bulawayo, Ntabazinduna, Nyathi, Victoria Falls, Lupane, etc.