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We are diverse, but how equal are we in Matabeleland?

Real political growth will only be realised when there develops, within the Mthwakazi space, a good understanding of the extent of our ignorance. The greatest risk to equality in the region is the illusion that it already exists, and that sincere ignorance puts chances of political progress in jeopardy.

Matabeleland has suffered badly under the ethnically divisive ZANU PF rule but this is no time to complain; we need to work on solutions to our serious problems of discrimination. We will not import solutions from outside but create them from within. Our first target would be extricating ourselves from organised chaos that many of our elite find themselves entangled in. Many have embraced and are beneficiaries of ZANU PF birthed unethical practices such as corruption.

It is not my dream that Mthwakazi is rid of difference, I like the idea of a rainbow nation and strongly believe it is the tolerance of ethnic difference that sets us apart from nations that surround us. We recognise within Matabeleland that in order to treat some population groups and individuals fairly, we must treat them differently. We must not try to make unequal things equal, we should be creating opportunity and equal access to all.

Taking our politics forward, while acknowledging the social and cultural diversity in Matabeleland, we should also be wary of the risks of conflating diversity with equality. We run the risk of being swallowed down a sinkhole of ignorance when we assume that equality of people in our diverse nation already exists. Truth is incontrovertible, equality is not manifest in Mthwakazi society today. We still have individuals and communities being referred to as amaHole, among other derogatory terms.

We are, at present, witnesses to undemocratic attempts at restoring a monarchy, itself a potentially undemocratic institution whose role within the modern Mthwakazi politics has yet to be defined to the nation.

Traditional leadership has a role in society; however, my concern is about the process of restoring a King of Mthwakazi; there has been no attempt at consulting the public. I believe communities need to be given a chance to give their consent for this ‘King’ to draw his authority from them. If imposing a Nguni King on everybody else within Mthwakazi without their consent is the central theme of restoration, many non-Nguni ethnic groups would rather watch from the margins.

I am for social democracy which I believe is a fundamental ingredient and base for an unshakeable political democracy. Any serious shift towards a sustainable Mthwakazi society must include, as its objective, genuine equality of all social and political groups in the region. We will have to learn the rights of every population group, and we will have to take equal time to listen to people’s concerns as much as we are giving them ‘solutions’.

As pointed out in the last paragraph, it must not be lost to the entire Mthwakazi movement that our political victory is dependent on equal involvement and real participation by all ethnic groups who consider Mthwakazi their home. In pursuit of that, no ethnic group should feel obstructed from living their life the way they want within limits drawn around them by equal rights of others. We must be equally cautious about the laws we advance to avoid them being purely a reflection of life as experienced by majority ethnic groups and the elite.

Our nation will only be built on a shared path of equality, desire and greater passion for freedom and liberty. Work ethic, and not tribe, should reward individuals and communities. Tribe, race and language spoken must not be allowed to determine anyone’s access to opportunities. After all, we are people, all alike, sharing the same physical, economic and political space; we will need to get on.

We are a diverse nation and we need to appreciate that to create an equal and diversity safe space we need to actively include every ethnic group in the politics of Mthwakazi. We have inadvertently embraced unethical practices and veered further away from diversity safe solutions; sacrifices will have to be made to create diversity friendly policies. There should be no solution to people’s problems without the people’s involvement; let us show respect to every ethnic group and consult widely to find solutions to Mthwakazi political challenges.


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