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Zimbabwe needs urgent reform of its corrupt political system

Huge and serious differences remain between Matabeleland and Mashonaland’s perceptions of independence; there is a wide gap between what Mthwakazi believes independence entitles her and what the State – dominated by Mashonaland – is prepared to deliver.

We had hoped to see workable and realistic proposals from the mainstream political parties, but that hope is rapidly thinning away with every campaign speech. The leaders talk devolution of power out of pity, not from their hearts; the promise has an eye on the upcoming election and not on the genuine belief in the value of devolved governance.

Reform is not easy, but reform is right. This is the time to fundamentally change the way that we do politics in Zimbabwe; we cannot stand by and watch while stereotypes continue to inform the shape of our systems and institutions. Zimbabwe must be safe for Mthwakazi and ethnic minorities. We need to reform the government so that it is more efficient, more transparent, and more creative; government must be accountable to the electorate.

There can never be a peaceful coexistence in Zimbabwe when we are enveloped by a corrupt political system that pays a blind eye to the abuse of Mthwakazi by Mashonaland. If the Zimbabwean government continues to wilfully ignore the open cases of corrupt practices by ethnic Shona business managers who deliberately block the aspirations of local Mthwakazi residents to engineer job opportunities for imported ethnic Shona labour, it will find it increasingly difficult to escape the judgement of Mthwakazi citizens.

Mainstream political parties must face up to the reality of the damaging effect of Shona privilege and address it as a matter of urgency. We cannot, as it were, create a large dam to supply water to Mashonaland and pay no attention to the fact the same dam wall restricts water supply to Matabeleland. It is morally wrong to create jobs for members of a majority ethnic group by getting rid of minority ethnic group members as was the case in a Bulawayo supermarket recently.

Mthwakazi citizens have a moral obligation to challenge corruption whatever the source; we will sound off the alarm and refuse to be silenced until things are put right. There is a need for political reform along ethical lines that would give birth to accountable systems and institutions to benefit everyone. This would require a courageous change of attitude from political leaders.

For a start, politics must stop being a platform for an unhealthy competition for votes, it must instead be a healthy environment for open, informed debates about policy and sustainable promotion of ethical conduct. An informed electorate is key to democracy.

We can no longer justify electing leaders who provide no hope to our unemployed citizens, no hope for the mothers and fathers and their children seeking protection from effects of poverty. We are tired of leaders who are wilfully ignorant to the outcry of our citizens who are subjected to intolerable levels of discrimination due to their social identity.

Zimbabwe must reform its politics; focus must be on building high quality systems and institutions that will guarantee universal protection and provision of high quality services in a cost-effective way. We need to build a system and institutions that work for all citizens, the wealthy and the poor, Mashonaland and Matabeleland.

If – as a leader – you find yourself being corrupted by a corrupt atmosphere, you are already corrupt yourself. Our leaders lack creativity thus, the opportunistic nature of their politics where tribal identity remains at the core of the campaign strategy. Restoration of faith in politics is vital. Reform of power flows between the national executive and the regions and the realignment of power between Matabeleland and Mashonaland is only one part of the answer, but it is a vital one.

One of the main contributors to executive incompetency is the fear of losing elections; Zimbabwean power is secured on the back of a parliamentary majority which does not necessarily reflect the balance of political opinion in the country but is merely reflective of the largest tribe’s priorities.

A majoritarian tyranny presents a damaging toxicity to our political landscape. At present, confronting political malpractice by people of ethnic Shona background who account for at least 80 percent of the population is a risk that no mainstream political party leader has shown a willingness to take.

It is no surprise that the politics of today retains the foundations of yesterday, is unfit for today and unprepared for the future; the consequences of change are too expensive for our short-sighted leaders whose only focus is the next election, not the next generation.

Reform is essential; it is born of need, not pity. An unreformed Zimbabwe will remain unstable; an unstable Zimbabwe has no long-term benefits for all its inhabitants. We need to shift power transactions in a way that every region has control over its destiny and no community is left feeling the need to abandon its values to fit in.


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