I argue here that Matabeleland’s experience of Zimbabwean independence is that it ceased to move forward as a living force in October 1980 when Mugabe signed a deal with North Korea to train the Fifth Brigade; ZANU-orchestrated fascism grew in strength, took lives and hopes of non-Shona citizens in our land.
Suffice to say the people who were meant to serve us betrayed us; Mugabe and his allies turned into monsters and control masters while the British government of the time paid a blind eye to the abuse of black Matabeles as it obsessed on the ‘protection’ afforded the white farmers, its white citizens by the ZANU government; Matabeleland suffered untold embarrassment, our people died painful physical and emotional deaths for nothing but being a different tribe.
It is time we decided how Mthwakazi’s politics is channelled and shaped; we will no longer behave like that 1980s world that could not call out ‘stop’ when Matabeleland was being savaged; for the dead and the living, we will dig out the truth as we seek to build the future.
What is not to be lost to us is that Zimbabwe’s rise is written in the terms of oneness and a unified fight against colonialism, Zimbabwe’s decay in the terms of ZANU-led fascism, tribalism, corruption and death of political morality. In four decades of Zimbabwe’s ‘independence’ ZANU has operated above the law, and Matabeleland has struggled far in the rear, if not being trampled to death beneath ZANU PF’s iron heel.
The centralised Zimbabwean government system decides what is national and worth highlighting. In that scenario some important but nationally inconvenient local or regional facts are edited out of national publications by politically partial ‘national’ news editors whose prime interest is their employer, the ZANU PF leadership, and not the public.
ZANU PF’s central political objective is the creation of a homogeneous ethnic Shona republic that also manages Mthwakazi, not the progressive realignment of internal policy that moves away from centralised governance to devolution of power or even federalism that would allow every region, including Mthwakazi to define and run its internal affairs according to local needs, norms and values.
Matabeleland is not a geo-political space struggling to be maintained, rather it is an area needing to be made better. Our focus is to sign a new page in the history of politics in Matabeleland through the adoption of progressive politics. The current system and institutions show troubling disinterest in and a worrying lack of understanding of Mthwakazi needs. This is the time to transform local politics and claim real independence and ownership of both our challenges and solutions to them.
A progressive politics will need more than just a bigger break with the ZANU PF political, socioeconomic and moral assumptions of the four decades. We need a return to the conviction that people are born equal, and that economic growth and the derived affluence is a means and not an end. What constitutes the end is what the derived affluence does to the lives, life-chances and hopes of all, and not some, of our people.
When dealing with ZANU PF politics, I have never been convinced by the benefits of retaliation, an evil deed cannot be redeemed by an evil deed; resentment and counter tribalism will not change ZANU PF’s attitude, it will only disrupt and poison our attitude towards humanity. We are a nation born out of multiethnicity and diversity, counter tribalism will not benefit Mthwakazi; selective repression of any tribe in our midst puts to question our claims to being peaceful victims of ZANU PF arrogance and ignorance. Tribalism is abhorrent, repugnant and inconsistent with our values, and reverse tribalism is no less damaging.
Progressive politics in Matabeleland is not about a straight swap of political roles, a scenario that oversees the overturning – by victims – of political injustice to perpetrators and perpetrators to victims, it is about completely dumping injustice and widening the opportunities and capabilities of all through a collective, progressive action.
Without a doubt, we have been very patient with ZANU PF and its systems. Change is now the only alternative. However, we will require genuine political maturity before any progress can be realised within the Mthwakazi space. Diversity of views and strategies will require genuine internal political maturity and a strong will for progress.
What is disturbing with the current political manoeuvre in Mthwakazi is that it appears the contest is driven by internal selfishness; the high volume of political parties and independent candidates within our political space suggests, not only disorganisation, but that our politics is egoistic and motivated by a misplaced craving for individual attention as opposed to the collective desire for strengthening our nation’s political grip within the Zimbabwean borders.
We can change Mthwakazi politics into a self-critical, objective movement focused on progressive political growth. We must make politics interesting and relevant to the people, we need to inspire and build durable trust within the system and supporting institutions. This calls for an increased involvement of the public across the whole spectrum of our politics.