Evidence at hand indicates that a politically fragmented pro-Mthwakazi movement is no match to the experienced, sophisticated, better resourced and brutally tribalist ZANU PF and MDC-T machinery. The pro-Mthwakazi agenda is drowning in the sea of Zimbabwean institutions; one hopes it has dawned to many of our people that no individual or single group can save it quick enough by himself, we need a group of us.
A time for change
It is no longer the number of voices but the quality that is of importance. We can say with a high degree of confidence that the enormity of the task of raising the Mthwakazi agenda from under the feet of ZANU PF to levels where it can make political capital and effectively influence policy in Zimbabwean politics is not a one-man job; no individual or single group has the capacity to do that on its own. This is where innovation will be important; a proactive alliance will be a wise step to take if we are to create a strong and effective local political leadership to raise sensitive local issues to national level.
The problem with the present state
This is a sea of ideas spread far and wide crying out to be connected. The present political environment is a highly destabilised space drowning under the weight of the tribally-oriented Zimbabwean political regime; it is infested with divisions, mistrust, suspicion and bitter rivalry between different groups and individuals. Irreconcilable ideological differences have been evident in the various social media disagreements, but this is the time to put aside what at times has seemed to be trivial personality clashes and immature politics of point scoring getting in the way of constructive conversations for progress.
Why form a Mthwakazi leadership alliance?
Transformed political minds, transform people; transformed people, transform political landscapes. We need to come together for the common good; we are yearning for power, not just for the sake of it, but to be closer to the decisions affecting our lives. Years under a brutal ZANU PF regime determined to accomplish its 1979 Grand Plan whose goal is Shonalisation/ Shonawashing and Mthwakazi marginalisation make it reasonable for Mthwakazi organisations to put their differences aside and work together to preserve security and stabilise the political space in response to the continued threat.
We need to create an alliance as a proactive tool to solve the long-identified problems. We believe the coalition will create structures for us to share ownership of common goals. A functioning coalition is the only way by which advocacy work will be strengthened.
Benefits and challenges of a leadership alliance
We are not oblivious to the benefits and challenges to forming or joining a coalition. Thorough research and risk analysis will have to be undertaken to provide vital information upon which groups and individuals will make decisions on whether to join or not join the coalition.
- Real increase in resources – human and material – being part of an alliance will enlarge an organisations’ support base, networks and increase access to vital connections.
- Greater numbers provide a safety net for risk taking, capacity for advocacy efforts and protection for members who otherwise may not be able to take action alone, especially when operating in a hostile territory. There is potential for boosting financial and human resources through groups and individuals pooling them together and by delegating work to others in the coalition.
- Encourages effective use of available resources as it reduces duplication of both effort and resources. Thus, enhances the credibility and influence of the groups in carrying out advocacy campaign, as well as that of individual coalition members and thus increase public awareness of the pro-Mthwakazi agenda.
- Helps develop new leadership skills among members and facilitates exchange of information, skills, experience, materials, opportunities for collaboration etc.
- Bringing together a diverse range of people and organisations can strengthen a campaign by broadening perspective and understanding of the issue. It can also assist outreach work by appealing to a wider population base with differing priorities and interest.
- We have been disjointed for a long time, it may be difficult to draw clear objectives or to agree common objectives.
- Forming and managing a coalition can be a very time-consuming and bureaucratic process that takes away time from working directly on campaign issues and organisational tasks.
- There is a real risk of the coalition being dominated by one powerful, larger or wealthy organisation and power transaction not being distributed equitably across the alliance members which may lead to powerful organisations or individuals having unduly greater influence in decisions.
- The need for compromise may lead to some groups or individuals having to shift or sacrifice their political and moral positions on issues of interest or tactics to be employed. For example, violent means and nonviolent means proponents having to work together will take a lot of sacrifice from either camp.
- Lack of financial and human resources has always been our stumbling block. Matabeleland people have tended not to be forthcoming when it comes to participating in local initiatives. Whenever, working resources have to come from somewhere, doors are left open for donor intrusion.
- The problem of loss of individual identity would result in a loss of recognition for individual work which may compromise the status of some groups long-term. Worse still, shared responsibility means that in the case of the coalition process breaking down, it can harm everyone’s credibility.
- Consensus decision-making can be a slow, protracted process that stalls progress and makes evaluating and monitoring activities difficult.
FACILITATING AN ALLIANCE
We need to establish a core working group to establish a functioning alliance. In the past I have suggested a collective leadership that would include the local traditional leadership, elected representatives and carefully selected individuals or representatives from groups to ensure a broad representation of society; this would be the alliance’s central committee tasked with representing the coalition groups and individuals’ interests. We are ideally looking at a working group of at most 10 people.
The leadership alliance will be tasked with setting a central working goal and objectives to which everyone can agree. All participants in the Alliance should be informed about the issue at hand and should have an interest in a successful outcome.
Identify mutual benefits for Alliance Members. For the Alliance to be successful, members must have a clear understanding of their share of benefits should the mission be successful. At this stage each organisation should determine the benefits each alliance team members can claim upon successfully achieving the Alliance’s goal.
Develop a strategy for the Alliance’s goal statement that will provide a base for developing strategies.
How are we going to Maintain the Alliance?
Good communication, and mutual trust would be essential. This entails mutual respect of the Alliance’s mission. Timely and objective meetings, clear record keeping of execution and completion of tasks. Equally important is taking good care of members so they do not get disillusioned, despondent and be left vulnerable to the vices of corruption.
Rotational leadership will be central to the promotion of a true sense of co-ownership of the mission. An honest delegation of tasks to members or subgroups of the alliance serves a threefold purpose: (1) to empower, (2) to educate, and (3) to ensure work and power are spread evenly among members and not concentrated among leaders. Delegation must not be a method of control.
How decisions are arrived at will be central to the maintenance of the alliance. We will adopt the Consensus Decision-Making Model; the model requires each member’s consent to the decision before “group adoption” can take place – the group creates a total majority. The goal of consensus decision-making is group unity, as opposed to a majority winning and a minority losing.
We must be honest to ourselves, a fragmented Mthwakazi will not effect change in this and the next generation. Despite ideological differences, our organisations share a fidelity to something higher – a free and open Mthwakazi that would be safe for diversity. Differences must be set aside for the common good; an empowered Mthwakazi is good for everyone. In this age, it is no longer about how tactically or operationally brilliant individual leaders are, if they cannot create harmony to facilitate progressive political relations based on trust across party lines within our political space, they need to step aside, because their leadership is obsolete.