Want to transform Matabeleland? Let’s transform ourselves first

Anyone entertaining the idea that postcolonial Zimbabwe is a state based on the notion, ‘human beings are created equal’ inhabits a parallel world; Zimbabwe is not a respectful union of equals, Mashonaland continues to control and ridicule Matabeleland at every opportunity.

It is errant nonsense that the West is our problem; Harare is Matabeleland’s nightmare, it has been since 1980. However, Matabeleland needs to acknowledge that complaints in the absence of practical interventions have run their course, mindsets need to change.

Matabeleland will have to transform from inside out. The political transformation of Matabeleland starts with the transformation of every individual and every household in Matabeleland. Mere recall and expression of our difficulties is not enough, it is not a measure of political impact; we must draw a line under inaction, close that chapter once and for all.

Let us transform our political environment and create space for genuinely objective interaction. That would mean accepting diversity of opinion; disagreeing well should be at the centre of our politics; only genuine political accommodation will turn our political space into an oasis of hope. There is space for everyone and for every group to express itself; no one group can claim exclusive authority over the interpretation of our problems; in the similar vein, no single group has all the solutions to our problems.

We recognise that there will always be competing interests in political debates but politicians and political analysts need to take their responsibilities to the public seriously; we need to use our political debate platforms more productively and actively stop spending most of our publicity space ridiculing each other and/ or promoting catfights.

I do understand those who reject desktop activities yet, it should be acknowledged that although reading, writing and personal introspection will not protect us from Harare induced hardship and suffering, it gives us the platform for critical thinking and allows us the best opportunity to find solutions.

We need to start facing and not duck responsibility; we need to change our politics to save it; our choices and safety must not be linked with the ethnicity of the leadership but policies and strategies. Tribal proclivity goes against our political foundational basis and political morality. Let us review our policies, management and implementation of strategies.

Every challenge thrown at us by Harare must be taken as an opportunity for self-transformation. Every Harare ‘no’ to our rights must be turned into a big ‘yes’ to many other opportunities to advance ourselves. We do not need deep hatred of Mashonaland to set ourselves free but deeper love of ourselves; let us put to a halt ideas and strategies driven by hatred and focus on the behaviour and policies that set us free from the experience of suppression. Let us not try to change Harare but just change ourselves.

We do not deserve the status imposed on us by Harare, that is a fact! We demand parity and, fervently reject the derogation of our Mthwakazi nation and the unwritten rule that our freedoms and liberty can be switched on and off at the whims of Harare. Majoritarian tyranny that has been the cornerstone of Zimbabwe’s democracy facade is not democracy; it has not benefitted Matabeleland; we have been pushed further away from decisions impacting our lives because our needs have been voted away by the majority Mashonaland legislators.

I welcome the emergence and existence of pro-Mthwakazi political parties but these are no substitute for organised political interaction. As a nation, we have a responsibility to control the direction of our debate, and communication with and not just to our people is vital. Matabeleland solutions must be drawn from the Matabeleland citizenry not from an exclusive, self-appointed collection of individuals whose main constituency is often personal interests.

Calling for disciplined conduct in the political debate within the Mthwakazi space must not be confused with gagging anyone from expressing their view. Let us open our political space to all Matabeleland citizens to hold an honest conversation to transform ourselves and our politics. Having said that, there should be no fear to eject from our platforms deliberately belligerent and offensive participants only intent on diverting discussion from objective aims.

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