We are not the pioneers of the Mthwakazi empowerment agenda; it is a generational effort, all we need to ensure is that we bear our responsibilities seriously and that the agenda is undone not by our generation. Our mandate is to pick up the button from our forebearers; the ambitions for the restoration, reinvigorating and empowerment of Mthwakazi date back to the very second the territory was lost to the white men in the late 19th Century.
The present generation needs to search within itself on what it is doing to the Mthwakazi relay button? How much our generation is doing and how effective the work aimed at reshaping Mthwakazi into a strong unit able to compete with the best in Africa and the world is anyone’s guess.
Evidence drawn from voting patterns in the last two harmonised elections of 2008 and 2013 suggests an absence of progress in the Mthwakazi agenda. Our people persistently vote for Zimbabwe nationalism, and not Mthwakazi patriotism. Are we then not guilty of complicit in holding back that agenda through either lack of innovation or lack of direction or disruptive internal disunity and policy inconsistency?
For purposes of credibility, objectivity and future progress, it is time the impact of Mthwakazi empowerment groups was put to the test. Without better alternatives, it is true that correctly focused, the 2018 Zimbabwean government-funded elections remain the cheapest and best way of objectively measuring the impact of the progress [or lack thereof] of the Mthwakazi empowerment agenda.
Welcome as the decision by some Mthwakazi organisations to participate in the harmonised 2018 elections is, the growing concern is that many of the organisations have paid little attention to the fact election success is no accident but a result of planning, hard work and perseverance.
Our first challenge is the clarity of the language in describing the product we are selling, and the second is identifying appropriate voters the campaign needs to persuade. The pro-Mthwakazi agenda is a project aimed at devolving power from central government to ‘Mthwakazi people’; we want people to have greater and direct input into decisions impacting their lives. This blog defines ‘Mthwakazi people’ as any person who calls or has made Mthwakazi home, including those on a reasonably long temporary basis.
The identification of appropriate voters cannot be over-emphasised, it is the core of the campaign process. Voter modeling and targeting techniques are fundamental in helping us define a crop of voters that the campaign will focus its grassroots campaigning and marketing effort on.
It goes without saying that the next task is the identification of credible data sources. The campaign would use these demographics to identify which voters the campaign believes could be swayed. The Zimbabwe Election Commission (ZEC) will perhaps be the most credible data source with accurate demographic information of voters.
An analysis of the 2008 and 2013 harmonised elections will inform our campaign, the voter demographics that we must look at to model and target our voters are age, gender, ethnicity, occupation, education level, historical voting patterns and geographical location. We will also need to identify independent and newly registered voters whom the campaign believes can be persuaded and give us insight to figure out the win target.
Door-to-door or direct voter contact through grassroots campaigning is one of the most effective ways to connect and build relationships with voters. Current economic conditions have worsened the region’s financial resources, but we have a potentially large human resource to call upon, if we can convince them the project is theirs and a worthy cause.
Social media is now a powerful communication tool whose reach we cannot ignore. We must take advantage of its strengths to reach out to the population groups we need. Organisations must be structurally disciplined to send appropriate messages to identified voters.
Since significant campaign resources will be put into the direct voter grassroots contact program, the voter data for modeling and targeting must be accurate, credible and verified. Access to data is not always easy in Zimbabwe but we will need a voter verification process to sift out damaging inaccurate or fraudulent voter data.
Political wastage is a product of unplanned interventions; we need research-based politics for us to use our resources efficiently. A haphazard political approach founded on emotion than reason risks keeping us in political wilderness for years to come. We need order, and order requires discipline.