Matabeleland and the violent intervention debate

People are free to exercise their right to choose but, they need to understand that with every choice comes responsibility. War cannot be casually pushed up the list of our interventions without giving a decent attempt at nonviolent interventions.

The perception that Mthwakazi sovereignty can only be attained through waging a war is a dangerous illusion. Any calls of war at this point are unnecessary, disruptive and seem a desperate attempt by individuals and groups crying out for political relevance yet lacking in political creativity thus, staring at extinction.

Of all choices in addressing Matabeleland’s political problems, war is the worst of every possible intervention we can think of; we know that the more bombs and gunshots in any political space, the more noise, the thicker the cloud of dust, the severe the visual impairment and the lesser the chance of doves of peace descending on it.

History teaches us that war is often a choice driven by impatience and triggered by miscalculation rather than strategic necessity. If, pre-war, people gave serious thought to its impact and its long-term benefits, many wars would have been stopped before they even started. Many wars are avoidable if people are patient enough for peaceful interventions to take effect.

What determines how much time is enough time for any intervention to take effect is not necessarily an objective calculation but a subjective manifestation of our judgement, socially determined moral values including our perception of justice, our idea of the future and our opinions of the present state.

Arguably, our world perception shapes our choices of interventions to be used in achieving our freedom and liberty. Difficult as it may be, we need to break the cycle of seeing our world through the ZANU PF prism if we are to have a clearer and enduring view of the future we want.

Warriors come in different forms and from different fields, our heroism should not only be determined by our military exploits; war violates the evolving standards of decency and, barbarism cannot be allowed to define our generation.

Those with a glorious vision of war overlook its psychological damage to its executors, targets and the innocent civilians. War is only attractive to those who have neither fired a shot nor witnessed their closest relations suffer wounds and starvation directly inflicted by this barbarism.

I do accept that war can, at times, be a strategic necessity to stop barbaric regimes from committing heinous acts of violence such as states using chemical weapons against innocent civilians. These cases are uncommon and should never be used to normalise decisions of engaging in war.

Let us stop glorifying war, war is nothing but cruelty masked as an effective and legitimate solution to political problems. War must never be allowed to supplant civil interventions. Let us not be too lazy and too proud to invest in genuinely peaceful and constructive problem solving approaches. There are many interventions far superior to war; only patience will lead us to them.

War has proven to be unable to undo the damage it creates in the first place so, how in all our sanity we start to believe war will somehow rectify Matabeleland’s political challenges today boggles the mind. We are witnesses to what war is doing to Iraqis in Mosul, Nigerians in the Borno State, the Southern Sudanese, Syrians and Yemens, among many victims of war.

To conclude, it makes political sense for Matabeleland to keep all options on the table to achieve liberty. Indeed, war does have its place but, only as part of a broad, structured and well-thought out set of interventions. At present, there is no objective reason to reject nonviolent interventions in favour for violence. We must keep it in our minds that war alone will not bring about peace, justice, freedom and liberty that we all seek for Matabeleland; it is vital that, above all else, we love peace and be prepared to sacrifice for it.

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