We look back in history not to stay in the past but to learn what to avoid as we move into the future. We, Matabeleland, refuse to continue to be the poorer cousin within the dysfunctional Zimbabwe union; we today choose freedom and the responsibility this entails.
For a start, let us be honest with ourselves as Matabeleland; for at least three decades, we have had several political ideas that however, have not worked to improve our circumstances within Zimbabwe.
It is a fair observation that we have lost many battles but that experience should be taken as our teacher, and not our undertaker; far from being overwhelmed, we are starting to work on new ways of winning the war.
As we work on a new turn in our 21st politics, we recognise that success of any kind is an open secret; that secret being meticulous planning, hard work, preparation, and learning from failure. How we use our time will be vital; spending too much time talking about the enemy, as history teaches us, does not empower the victim but increases fear and paranoia among our people, and that only empowers the abuser.
To understand where we are today and appreciate where we are going, we need to appreciate our past. A people without knowledge of their past is like a tree without roots. Understanding of our history is central to our goal of restoring our nation and building a better future, whether that would be within Zimbabwe or outside it is a matter of political process.
We need to equip our people, particularly the young Mthwakazi generation born after Zimbabwe’s independence, with the facts and truth for them to appreciate our history. A good historical comprehension is vital in the calls for a different and immediate political discourse within Matabeleland. Only when our children comprehend the misreporting of the Gukurahundi atrocities will they avoid misremembering the atrocities.
As a society, we place pride in our calm disposition but calmness is not synonymous to delay. Delay smacks of indecisiveness; delay has long defined our socio-political action and reaction; it is now time we took the front foot in creating the Mthwakazi we want. We want to recover control over our lives; no foreign institution should assume authority over making decisions about us without us.
We need to explore our options of a government system and institutions now and not wait until we get independence to decide how we should govern ourselves. The government we all seek is one that will be accountable to us, seek our consent to govern us; we want men and women confident to lead us with us. This calls for a total political reform that cannot be achieved within the current state of Zimbabwe.
Harare needs to know that Bulawayo is no longer willing to continue maintaining a position of neutrality in the face of injustice. The question for the state of Zimbabwe now is whether it is willing to dismantle what is objectively not a union of equals or it wants to protect the status quo whose focus is the protection of Mashonaland interests over Matabeleland’s rights.
It is either we move forward together toward genuine independence, freedom and liberty for all, irrespective of tribe and race or we move apart and this Zimbabwean union as we know it today becomes extinct.
How we create a government based on the principles of economic, social, racial, environmental and political justice must be Matabeleland’s goal. We must reject reactionary policies; focus on systems that do not deliberately alienate any community within our region must be our primary concern.
Geography made Matabeleland neighbours of Mashonaland; history in the form of colonialism created a union called Southern Rhodesia; history of the liberation struggle made us allies with a common destiny. ZANU PF politics of tribalism made us move apart.