The Southern Powerhouse (Matabeleland empowerment) dream is not just a dream but a genuine force for hope for Matabeleland; it is a worthy dream, a dream for worthy doers to adopt. It is a dream too valuable to ignore. In this, good campaigning becomes indispensable.
Common knowledge is that the lived reality of Zimbabwean independence is shaped by ZANU PF, and that independence has given everything to Matabeleland but independence, freedom and liberty. ZANU PF has failed to create a diversity safe economic, social and political environment. On the other hand, a culture of conformity that has been adopted by our people has not been helpful in raising the profile of Matabeleland needs. I believe we need to retain our dreams and own our voices and this is the time for them to sound loudest and for the dreamers to act and for dreams to be heard.
Good campaigning is indispensable to the marketing of the Southern Powerhouse dream. We need to ask ourselves if we are marketing the project effectively? We need a systemic approach that would require tools that help us measure if we are achieving the following: reaching out to the target population (Matabeleland nationals), making a truly positive socio-political impact, we are maximising our potential to reach out to the external world and whether we are in tune with not only Matabeleland nationals but the rest of the political world.
Successful political campaigns are ones that keep a step ahead of their opponents, and that means a willingness to take risks, that means constantly changing, rewriting rules and devising new ways of delivering the message. Our marketing strategy should strive to keep people tuned in, capture the right moment and people; we need to keep hold of people with the right attitude long enough for the Matabeleland powerhouse agenda to be magnified beyond Harare control.
We start off with the protection of the Matabeleland agenda from negativity but that does not mean closing doors to objectivity; we welcome diversity of opinion yet that should not compromise discipline within our platforms. I argue here that anti-Southern Powerhouse rhetoric needs not be given attention within our space unless there is a compelling objective reason to do so. My view is that negativity already enjoys wide publicity within Zimbabwean mainstream media.
My solemn belief is that Matabeleland individuals visiting online pro-Matabeleland platforms do so expecting to learn more about what an empowered Matabeleland would mean to them and the region and not to hear what doomsayers think of us. Perhaps the starting point would be defining and concisely describing to our people and the world what an empowered Matabeleland would prioritise. It is profound that people understand we are fighting for a world that respects the rule of law and a world in which only ability, and not family ties, sex, sexuality, race, ethnicity, religion and location within the region, decides access to opportunity.
Until we totally change the marketing strategy on our different platforms and increase the proportion of the messages highlighting what a Matabeleland with less or no influence from Harare would be like, we will continue to present ourselves as weak and victimised. Presenting ourselves as weak and hopeless frightens people away than increase their resolve to fight for a politically strengthened Southern Powerhouse.
Our platforms should be flooded with opinion from pro-Matabeleland dreamers and their dreams of hope, projects of hope, empowerment and a deliberate focus on rescuing us from the verge of further ZANU PF enslavement. We must ensure the negativity brought in by doomsday sayers is nothing but a raindrop falling into our ocean of hope.
Unless we are selling a big idea to the people our platforms will continue to attract hooligans with nothing but profanities to contribute to what should be mature adult debates. Let us not be put off dreaming new dreams by negativity. Let it be our strength to ignore negativity; we must let all negativity roll off us like water off a duck’s back. The attitude should be, if it is not positive, we have no ear for it. Making sure our campaign is saying something that informs the target population is paramount in not only the retention of supporters but drawing in new ones.