As victims and first-hand witnesses of state violence, we must use our experience to denounce all forms of violence; we must not be seen to be supporting and condoning violence; we must not be seen to be even remotely accommodating an insidious culture of violence that cheapens human life.
Gukurahundi stands as a stack reminder to all of us of the terrible potential ZANU PF has for violence and inhumanity towards ethnic Ndebele people. The scars that remain etched in our hearts are adequate prompts for us to patiently find alternative effective yet humane ways of conducting politics.
Political violence in Zimbabwe is not a sudden problem, it has been a part of the independent Zimbabwe’s political life. We are under no illusion that Zimbabwean politics is based on the terrorism of Matabeleland people by the tyrannical ethnic Shona majority, and the most successful terror groups are ZANU PF and the MDC-T.
For ZANU PF and MDC-T, a politics of dominion is a major feature; it is a politics in which violence is a legitimate way of doing politics – violence helps them maintain the ethnic Shona hegemony. It is disturbing to note that Bulawayo, the Capital of Matabeleland, is allowing itself to be the rehearsal ground of violence in settling scores between two MDC-T factions, the Thokozani Khuphe and Nelson Chamisa camps.
We have long been aware that violence as a way of achieving political authority is both impractical and immoral. Whatever gains are made are short-term at best and will never be sustainable. Matabeleland must not be used by either MDC-T faction for political expediency. It is disturbing that, instead of taking the opportunity to strongly denounce political violence, some prominent figures within the Matabeleland’s branch of the MDC Alliance have taken to the social media to give long-winded but ambiguous statements that effectively excuse the recent violence targeted against Thokozani and her personnel.
I accept that complete objectivity is impossible to achieve in these cases, it simply does not exist because we are all subjective about the way we respond to the ‘what is’ question regarding political happenings. Those who resent Thokozani and in favour of Nelson are ‘objectively’ finding against Thokazani, and vice versa. What we can collectively strive for is to significantly reduce our subjectivity to get some understanding of the political fallout within the MDC-T that pits Thokozani against Nelson.
Various theories have been posited as to the reasons for the attacks on Thokozani including the ridiculous suggestion that she is an attention seeker. No, she is not an attention seeker but a victim of violence. It stretches credibility to believe that someone like Thokozani who knows the potential for the MDC-T to violent conduct would ‘invite’ violent thugs from that organisation to physically assault her and/ or her personnel just for attention’s sake.
I am not privy to the MDC-T constitution hence I am not the authority as to who, following the death of Tsvangirai, should rightfully lead the party; but, it is widely accepted that through constitutional provision Thokozani is the legitimate leader of the MDC-T after the death of Tsvangirai last month. However, Nelson who bypassed the party’s constitution to assume the leadership role is widely seen as a credible opposition leader to stand against ZANU PF. How Nelson’s fanatics have arrived at that conclusion is anybody’s guess.
The reality of Zimbabwean politics is that it is a misogyny and a tribal dominion. Thokozani who is female and not from the ethnic Shona tribe falls short of the unwritten requirements of a Zimbabwean leader. In fact, when being attacked when she attended Tsvangirai’s funeral, she was called a ‘whore’ and told in uncertain terms that Zimbabwe will never be ruled by a Ndebele.
Intimidation, harassment and violence should be spared no room in the MDC Alliance that claims democratic legitimacy. Condoning violence, regardless of who its target is crosses an ethical line. We may not agree with what Thokozani’s historical choices were and what she stands for now, but she reserves the right to make those choices, more so they remain legal political choices; as Matabeleland we must fight for her right to stand for what she stands for, and never allow ourselves to be used as convenient barrier to human rights.
To seek to defend political violence by blaming its victims is irresponsible behaviour that should not be afforded space in today’s politics; it only serves to bring the whole of the MDC-Alliance into disrepute. Mthwakazi makes it clear herein that violence against Thokozani and her supporters is indefensible; we cannot and will not condone it. We do not agree with what she and other Zimbabwe orientated political organisations stand for, but we will protect her right to life and indeed her right to not only hold her views but also to express them.