Let us not pretend to be surprised by Linda Tsungie Masarira’s recent political remarks about the alleged ‘cowardice’ of Ndebele people. Such perceptions of Ndebele people have become normalised behaviour by ethnic Shona politicians whose expectation is for us to jump to their command. As Matabeleland nationals, we will steer clear of self-pity and ensure there is no longer any tolerance for such outrageous conduct.
Now a take on the views. Appalling and objectionable? Yes, they are! Unexpected within modern-day Zimbabwe? No, they are not! What is rather surprising is Linda’s disingenuous attempt to deny that she holds such stereotypes. It is even more disturbing that she seriously believes that Matabeleland nationals would accept her lame explanation that she holds no such stereotypes when the supposed ‘refute’ statement from her confirms otherwise.
It comes as no surprise to Matabeleland nationals that Linda would not only feel aggrieved that Ndebeles at the NRZ allegedly declined to respond to her command to demonstrate but she would publicly express her frustration that consenting Ndebele adults dared make independent choices not to follow her instruction for them to jump. It has become an expectation in the ‘free’ Zimbabwe that when Harare sneezes, Bulawayo catches the cold; Matabeleland deputises, follows and mops after Mashonaland, no question asked.
It is a worrying fact of life under the ZANU PF ruled Zimbabwe that such perverse views as held by Linda come as no surprise to many of us; the 1979 Grand Plan was not an accident but a deliberate socio-political construct. Linda’s opinions are drawn from those socially designed, instilled and sustained perceptions of Matabele inferiority within the Mashonaland socio-political space.
Worryingly, ‘Ndebele cowardice’ is now perceived as the truth, unfortunately, even by our own learned children, men and women. This repeated lie that has found sufficient traction within both the formal and informal education system needs to be challenged sooner rather than later. We need to take back control of our socio-political space, and this is no time for cautious people only interested in protecting personal interests.
Tribalism is the main feature of modern-day Zimbabwe politics; however, it has been the enemy of Matabeleland development and good governance. This tribalism accounts for the remarkably brazen crisis of political representation for Matabeleland. Zimbabwean independence excludes Matabeleland and its nationals from true independence, true freedom and true liberty.
Perhaps the most powerful lesson to come from Mashonaland to Matabeleland is the need to act in accordance with the reality of the world we live in. The political world we inhabit protects Mashonaland and ethnic Shona interests and manages Matabeleland and its nationals for the benefit of the former. Advancing Matabeleland status does not benefit any Mashonaland fronted socio-political project. In short, no Mashonaland organisation has genuine interest for the improvement of Matabeleland but they do take an interest in the region for their own interest.
It is apparent through the history of modern-day Zimbabwe opposition politics that Mashonaland backed political organisations have not at all been reluctant to act in their self-interest; consequently, they have succeeded in appropriating opposition political interventions aimed at dethroning the ZANU PF government (and the socio-political inequity it stands for) to an extent that we, in Matabeleland, have had our rights further restricted. They work with us to further their interests of ruling over us, not to rule with us and not to empower us.
Linda’s misguided remarks are wild, an open and deliberate violation of Matabeleland dignity but they have a traceable background. We have ourselves to blame; for while we were too afraid to confront death, we failed to protect life. Real change will only happen when we start actively standing up for our rights and against discrimination.