If pro-Mthwakazi groups are true to their word that they have a problem with the Zimbabwean politics, they should be sharply deviating from Zimbabwean political norms founded on tribalism. Our primary goal is political and economic safety and security for all, and our experience of Zimbabwean politics has taught us that tribalism is contraindicated in that.
Without a doubt, the pro-Mthwakazi political movement is moving forward, but are we making progress? That is, are we getting nearer to the politics we want? And even more important, what do we want our politics to do for us? An honest answer to the last question will make the first two relevant.
A good start will be putting integrity at the core of what we do. Let us get back to basics and learn from people what they want politics to do for them and build from there; only a bottom up approach will sustain the pro-Mthwakazi movement. We accept the reality that integrity alone will not change the politics pertaining in Mthwakazi, but without integrity we will never change the existing politics and its consequences.
The existing politics is a ZANU PF utopia whose specialty is tribal supremacist; it has shown its willingness to cross all ethical boundaries to achieve its primary goal of ethnic Shona hegemony and privilege in Zimbabwe, and Gukurahundi atrocities come to mind; it targets for isolation and management Matabeleland and Matabeles; instead of building real economic opportunities for everyone, it selectively restricts active economic participation by Matabeles.
In its pursuit for Shona supremacy, the state that – over the years – has overseen the imposition of ethnic Shona people in executive roles within its institutions conveniently pays a blind eye to the trickle-down effects of corruption. These include the illegal practices that have overseen ethnic Shona business executives engineering artificial job opportunities in Matabeleland for imported ethnic Shona labour by actively removing Matabeles from jobs, if not frustrating them to the exit door through unjustified demotion from their roles.
Our politics must not be caught up in emotion, let our focus be not ZANU PF but our needs. If we truly reject tribalism, we should be prepared to make the right decisions and avoid hiding behind the safety of easy decisions; we must not be seen behaving like secret admirers of the system we condemn, its institutions and its tribal foundation; to avoid being accused of insufferable hypocrisy, let us stop targeting and isolating ethnic Shona people living in Matabeleland and start creating a humane political juggernaut.
What exactly do we lose out of protecting the rights of every community, tribe and race in Matabeleland, local or foreign? Absolutely nothing apart from breaking the invisible chains that subconsciously connect us to an inhumane political system represented by ZANU PF and most of the MDC formations. After all, the measure of our political success will not be how many ethnic Shona people are shipped out of Matabeleland but by how our systems and institutions protect the most vulnerable members of our society (who include ethnic Shona people).
Our mind-set must be rewired so that our focus is turned away from trying to fight the ZANU PF/ MDC-propped political model into building a new model that is not only adapted to our beliefs and values but also makes the present model obsolete. That would be a political model that lessens, instead of increasing, the fury of intolerance within our socio-political space.
Change is possible, but we need to overcome internal complacency. We have many scholars of our generation in Matabeleland who have been pacified into believing that tribalism lasted up to the Unity Accord of 1987 and now only exists in the history books. History is always kind to its authors, let us not forget that Zimbabwean history is the interpretation of the past as seen through ZANU PF and its allies’ lenses and not those Matabeles on the receiving end of it.
The ZANU PF tailored history denies and obliterates our people’s own understanding of their history. People have been effectively educated into forgetting the state sanctioned killings of Matabeles; our own people are hostile to any reference to that past as they see that regressive.
The danger of such ignorance is that it leaves individuals in a false sense of comfort, not moving hence unable to detect the chains round their ankles and risk not making attempts to reach out for freedom. It is the duty of every one of us to educate themselves and all our youth about the dynamics of tribalism so that they can effectively play their role in freeing themselves and the Mthwakazi society.
We reject tribalism not only because we are its victims but because we believe – from the bottom of our hearts – that it is an inhumane self-centred political system from which nothing good can ever been achieved. Tribalism wins votes, but it builds a wall of separation that keeps further apart communities that should be working together for the common good.