Demystifying the Matabeleland powerhouse agenda

We want to assure those with reservations and apprehensive about the Southern Powerhouse agenda that this is not another ethnically nuanced African political disaster but an honest opportunity to transform Matabeleland into a progressive, modern and politically responsible space.

I have been consistent in my argument that Matabeleland belongs to all who dwell in it and all who identify with it and want to contribute to its betterment.

Now, I will clarify what brings us to this point where calls for Matabeleland relevant systems are desirable. From our experience of the Zimbabwean rule we conclude that ZANU PF policies are a classic by-product of politics without pragmatism; bias, exclusion and unfairness characterise state operations. It is equally true that Zimbabwean systems and institutions are both unwilling and incapable of protecting the rights of Matabeleland nationals.

There is political urgency to repeal and replace the ZANU PF post-independence policies. Matabeleland is tired of a political leadership entrenched in the denial and avoidance of our real problems. Furthermore, we need to rid ourselves of a local leadership whose speciality over the years has been giving consent for ZANU PF to take most of our rights, freedoms and liberty in return for safety.

Today, more than ever before, Matabeleland needs strong local leadership to provide confident leadership as we carve out our way into the future and further from both political uncertainty and diversity unsafe Zimbabwean socio-political space. We want a political leadership whose concern is the welfare of all, not some people. We are done with the political absurdity that saw us seek to secure our safety by adjusting to a secondary role within the dysfunctional Zimbabwean political systems. That ideological approach marked the most painful and degrading episode of our socioeconomic and political existence, and it stops with our generation. We herein set the foundations for its eventual elimination at the least.

Having justified the case for pursuing a Matabeleland socio-political reform, I will move on to defining the Matabeleland we seek and allay ill-founded fears and misconceptions of the Southern Powerhouse concept. What the Southern Powerhouse is not is a Ndebele hegemony; it is not a tribal hierarchy and should not be confused with a backdoor attempt at the restoration of an abeZansi monarchy. Instead, the Matabeleland empowerment agenda seeks to restore essential freedoms and liberty to achieve safety for all within a transformed socio-political context.

Political reform is possible but we need to invite people with the right temperament to take us forward. Right now we can ill-afford to create space for cautious, careful people whose only interest lies in preserving their reputations, if not ill-gotten fortunes. Conformists benefitting from the croaked systems will never help us effect reform.

The politics of Matabeleland should not foster the pride of sections of the population at the expense of all others. The priority remains a crusade to reform and renew our space, its institutions and political system. We want to reform the political space such that it ensures everyone is truly represented; we seek a system for and by us. Policies need to be rich in quality and free from unnecessary bureaucracy.

We have learned from the best; our Zimbabwean experience teaches us that a political blank cheque entrusted to politicians is a licence for the exploitation of the people; it is only a credit to the politicians and quite literally a disaster for everyone else. Let us build a system that closes all loopholes that have for decades been exploited by politicians and their associates; we want a Matabeleland with checks and balance to protect the rights of ordinary men and women from unscrupulous politicians and their associates.

Far from it, the Southern Powerhouse neither romanticises tribalism nor is it an underhand attempt at institutionalising it in Matabeleland but a sincere project aimed at challenging the ethnically biased policies, institutions and the system of Zimbabwe. Matabeleland policies should be driven by what is in the best interest of Matabeleland. Victory for sanity would be when Matabeleland no longer bows to authority that bypasses our freedom and liberty; when Matabeleland refuses to respect laws that we have not contributed to.

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