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Can Matabeleland learn anything from pro-independence Catalans?

Zimbabwe is an environment of extreme tribalism, and tribalism makes more noise, normality does not sell. We want to turn the tide and make decency the norm in Mthwakazi’s fight for sovereignty. The outcome of the Catalonia 21-Dec-2017 election gives hope and further confirmation that armed intervention and violence (in general) is not the only intervention available to Mthwakazi.

If there is anything pro-Mthwakazi freedom parties can learn from the Catalan election is the significance of vision in politics. Catalonians knew what they were voting for because politicians have invested time and money into the project. Bellicose rhetoric alone is ill-advised and unsustainable; calling for the firing of bullets out of emotional frustration without giving clear reason or justification and without due consideration for our vulnerable children, the disabled, pregnant women and the elderly is reckless politicking.

Let us be realistic, if we cannot inspire people to register for the 2018 election, what chance is there that we will convince them to partake in an armed struggle? Let us, for now, set aside the dream of an armed intervention, what is required are good building blocks, better organisation within our space, patience and persistence in our message delivery; let us not forget what our people are like. Our people are a cautious people who are now tired of empty political promises; we need to re-engage the public to master a gradual and sustainable growth, and work on shared ambitions and goals between politicians and the people.

Catalan pro-independence parties did not rise overnight, what was witnessed on Friday was years of hard work and that is our challenge too. While no single party gained an outright majority, the three separatist parties together took 70 seats in an election that saw 82 percent of registered voters participate. The pro-independence parties needed 68 seats for a majority in the 135-seat Parliament. We see too that despite the clear support for the pro-independence side, it was the anti-independence Ciutadans (Citizens) party that came away with the most seats, winning 37, a gain of 12 seats to the 25 seats the party won in the last election.

We want change from the damaging and degrading Zimbabwean political systems, but we cannot afford to allow misinformation to inform our politics. It is a known fact that ignorance, anger, intimidation and cowardice are fertile breeding grounds for dangerous extremism, and deliberately misrepresenting Mthwakazi’s political interests will harm our political progress.

The extreme right and left have sort to exploit the information gap within Mthwakazi politics to peddle falsehoods. We have on one side the far right who reject participation in all elections, call for war and extend an extreme narrative that projects the generic ethnic Shona population as Mthwakazi’s enemy hence propose their expulsion from Mthwakazi, and then we have an extreme left narrative that is overly accommodating to ZANU PF and vehemently dismisses all Mthwakazi political concerns of Zimbabwean State bias as us being simply driven by tribalism, if not playing victims.

It is that time that whichever was hidden under the rubble of lies is brought up and out into light. Let it be known to our people that it is not tribes but unaccountable systems and incompatible institutions that we are fighting against; we are not fighting for the creation of an exclusive club of nations but a fair state in Mthwakazi. We want an accountable government, not merely a Ndebele/ Khalanga/ Venda/ Sotho/ Tonga, etc government.

Our demand for greater autonomy is not unreasonable, neither is it reckless nor is it short-termism but a well-thought out desire for regional empowerment. The Zimbabwean systems have neglected Mthwakazi through their obsession with denying any form of sovereignty to Matabeleland. Ours is not an attempt at riding the region of ethnic Shona people, it is about the next generation. We want strong government systems that take responsibility for the welfare of the people.

We want our institutions to represent our needs, and we want other communities to be represented by policies that adequately meet their values and beliefs; our politics cannot be based on the outcomes of thoughts of a different culture; the ability to use our own culture to draw our policies is a precious gift that should never have been taken away from us in the first place; we cannot continue to try to recreate our politics from different values and beliefs other than ours. We cannot use details and semitones and melody of foreign belief systems to represent ourselves as we can with our own. Our socio-political systems can best be represented through our people’s languages, culture and symbols, religion, cinematography and literature.

Prejudice and misinformation will not bring about justice for Mthwakazi. Hatred, tribalism and extremism have no place in Mthwakazi. Our political interest lies in an honest system that gives us greater autonomy to live our lives as we wish, and we are not anti-ethnic Shona. Mthwakazi is an open-minded multi-ethnic region that rewards effort and not languages people speak.


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