Bad-tempered competition hinders the Mthwakazi movement

By the looks of it, the Mthwakazi movement’s strongest opponent turns out not to be the Zimbabwean politics but the time we waste on infighting, lack of innovation, lack of will to learn from mistakes and our past, the internal connections we fail to build, and finally, the apathy created by a disheartening, tired and uncoordinated political approach.

A quick word of advice to all pro-Mthwakazi groups and individuals: for our main and real competition, let us just look in the mirror. It is after self-introspection that our eyes will open, and we will see our rivals scrambling for second place. In the same token, it is important that we realise that for political progress we must declare war on the enemies within – egoism, arrogance, conceit, selfishness, greed, lust for power, intolerance, anger, lying, and slander, then we will be ready to fight the enemy without.

It is an open secret that together, our multiple and ideologically diverse political organisations form a necessary paradox, not a senseless contradiction. Not all, but disciplined competition is necessary, it is for this reason that I am all for good competition within the pro-Mthwakazi political space, but that is only up to a certain extent. I believe we learn more when we are not self-absorbed, when we keep our silence and listen, and we do more when we cooperate than when we compete.

Yes, competition has its place and time; it is necessary to move organisations out of their comfort zone where they risk getting satisfied in mediocrity and shift them right into uncomfortable territory of uncertainty that will force them to create new things for theirs and society’s betterment. The presence of an opposition gives us essential reference points of how we can align our politics for the benefit of the public.

However, ill-informed and misplaced competition leaves us half in love with ourselves, and half exposed to oblivion. Therefore, for competition to be effective and of benefit to Mthwakazi, it must be healthy, valid, maintain and not undermine the integrity of our political pace. It is possible to compete without creating animosity between different socio-political groups occupying a different ideological location. Division does not imply anarchy but uniqueness that progressive politics must strive to protect.

Integrity is not the only factor in political progress, but without it our groups will find it difficult to attract the public that matters. Political groups must take control of their political integrity better than their focus on competing against each other for, it is in integrity where they can always find the competitive advantage. If there is moral real equivalence between people’s needs and what an organisation offers, the greater the chances for broadening the support base.

As alluded to earlier, difference is not necessarily bad and not always reason to go to war; in fact, honest difference is empowering; it forces each competitor to review their practice, improve their service and the beneficiaries will be the public. The problem with the competition we witness within the pro-Mthwakazi agenda is its self-centredness; it is a self-glorification project that sees every group focusing on pulling others down; unfortunately, such an approach creates disruptive division, less respect in our midst, less focus on public interest and more bias towards interests of politicians, and the loser is the political capital of the pro-Mthwakazi agenda as an entity due to people drifting away as they start to lose belief in what the project stands for.

Your greatest competitor is yourself, and not your opponents or potential creditors in the international community. Continual innovation and right timing will protect you from being swallowed by external competitors. It must not be your primary political goal to seek to outdo your opponent or to satisfy unreasonable demands of the international community. Every day you wake up as an organisation, ask yourself how much of your policies reflect your constituency. It is vital that our organisations revisit the basics; go back to the people and start building from and with the people.

Replicating lavish foreign ideas is Africa’s idea of innovation and an often tempting one, but we need to find out what people are doing in their communities and find ourselves appropriate roles to play in that. Innovation is key, if people’s experience of our politics is far detached from their day-to-day experiences and further removed from the future they dream of, they will not embrace it no matter how good it feels to professional politicians.

To our many pro-Mthwakazi political groups, I say a healthy competition is good in helping shrink the space for complacency and promoting vital innovation, but we must not overindulge in competition within forgetting the people who are the very reason for our existence. The Mthwakazi political market is huge, diverse and complex, and opportunities are wide open; so, we should be out on the look to find new political relevance upon which our future will hinge.


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