On 18 April 1980, we broke the final chains of colonialism; declared independence but entered an era of epic corruption, tribalism and contempt for rules of ethics and the law with no restraint whatsoever. Mthwakazi and its inhabitants lost control of their lives; crucially, PF ZAPU and its Mthwakazi representatives lost their credibility.
It is fair to argue that Matabeleland is today paying the cost of an astonishing act of political oversight by PF ZAPU in the early 1960s; PF ZAPU’s inadequate diagnosis of ZANU PF’s intentions was an act of reckless politics. ZANU PF, an openly tribal institution, was launched in 1963, and on that day Matabeleland’s political vulnerability was birthed.
Misfortune can hardly define our current political vulnerability; we are today paying the cost of a lack of political realism within the PF ZAPU hierarchy (particularly the Matabeleland representatives) from 1963 that left an open goal for ZANU PF to exploit; similarly, inadequate political diagnosis today will cost credibility tomorrow.
We recognise that due to socioeconomic poverty, politics under the current regime has lost its objectivity and credibility. We have ‘Matabeleland representatives’ who are in fact mercenaries paid by Harare and only represent and respond to their paymasters in Harare leaving the electorate vulnerable to open enslavement by the ZANU PF and MDC-T elite.
Directly linked with the last paragraph is the fact that our politics is marked by the consistency of inconsistency of politicians between what they say and what they do on the ground, between word and manner of life, which undermines Matabeleland political credibility.
This is time to redefine our politics and refocus our political agenda; our credibility should no longer be determined by what Zimbabwean politics – jealously guarded by ZANU PF and the MDC-T – expect of us but by what we need to do. Top of our agenda should be an objective political research, discipline and an emphasis on the cultivation of genuine patriotism.
Patriotism in a multi-ethnic Matabeleland will never be built on tribal allegiance but in making everyone feel welcome for who they are and respected for their ability and contribution to society. This calls for the active creation of opportunities and fair access to those opportunities; we are not seeking to build a Matabeleland that is better than Mashonaland but a Matabeleland that serves the interests of all inhabitants of Matabeleland.
Integrity is essential in our journey; we need to cut out elements of damaging nationalism within our politics. Matabeleland is both a witness and a victim of tribalism perpetuated by ZANU PF; our political organisations need to distance themselves from a toxic politics that identifies, for solely discriminatory purposes, people by their last names, the language they speak and so on, and so forth.
We need a strategic agility that, whenever possible, will get ahead of problems, strengthen our resolve to pursue our goals, establish important political alliances, and promote our interests and credibility first within Matabeleland and then the wider world.
One thing for sure, we need strong institutions; if we allow our politics to descend into tribal vitriol it will lose its credibility in the eyes of most of the electorate. Evidence suggests that ordinary Mthwakazi men and women are proud and tolerant of the multi-ethnic background of their nation; they do not care about tribe but the credibility of policies.
We know that the future development of Matabeleland is intricately linked to how effectively we use talent within our borders and beyond; individual ability has very little, if not nothing at all, to do with their tribe.
Those who believe in a lie well enough get the comfort but the lie will stay a lie. Let us keep real, it is not about how loud and how often we shout out but how credible and real our politics is. Falsehood and false strategies will work for a while for people who cannot tease out the real from the unreal.
The sign of maturity is standing up for just principles even when the wave of corruption rises above your head and threatens to engulf you. Being in the minority does not take away from your credibility; we need to carry on fighting; let us stay guided by principles of respect of humanity even in the face of ZANU PF/ MDC-T tribalism.