What we are witnessing in Zimbabwe is the maturation and expansion, in real terms, of a polarised political space first construed by ZANU in 1963, put to paper in its 1979 Grand Plan White Paper and effected from 1980. This is a space whose primary ideological concern is the security and safety of ethnic Shona people while increasing the vulnerability of other ethnic groups with the expectation of their eventual annihilation.
It is a political space that has overseen a successful blending of this and the next generation of politicians; learned politicians who are well-spoken on the podium but who fall acutely short when it comes to credibility and integrity. The moment they switch off their tablet or paper script, the memory of the speech content is deleted, never to be retrieved.
The 30/07/2018 elections were testimony of the success of ZANU PF’s patience, heavy investment and commitment to the 1979 Grand Plan; the main opposition exhibited characteristics not dissimilar to its experienced mentor; the only difference was in that the MDC came across like an inferior copy of the original copy that ZANU PF is. The Alliance had no clear plan and goals of how to address Matabeleland’s distinct but clear concerns about politics in Zimbabwe.
What we are increasingly seeing is the old ideological imprints in what is meant to be the new generation politics. We have an opposition leadership whose only desire is power not change. Our concern is their lack of commitment to addressing Matabeleland-specific issues; these people are maintaining a political space that does not give its Matabeleland victims the benefit of the doubt when it comes to allegations of political abuse. They simply choose not to err on that side of caution, rather they are flippant in their sympathetic view of the accused systems and never open themselves to the side of the victim.
The consequence is a calculated denial of the Gukurahundi murders and open refusal to accept liability by the State which has forced many of our people to retreat into lifeless existence, dying in the shadows of buried psychological trauma and painful memories.
For reasons best known only to them, some of our own people have opted for the principle: ‘let all things past, pass’ and in the process aligned themselves with the aggressor; we respect their right of choice and hope they in turn will respect our right to fight for real justice.
Ignoring injustice does not delete it, it does not mean it is gone; letting all things past, pass does not empower Matabeleland but conveniently minimises the impact of the genocide while stopping a genuine healing process that would genuinely empower our people and help affected communities create a new way of remembering that past. Direct and honest engagement is the only way in which we shall change the memory of our past into a hope for our future.
We need to understand what inspires this movement of let all things past, pass. It is naive to expect a fair conclusion from an arsonist’s investigation of his own fire. Those calling for forgetting and moving on are led not by a desire for peace but arrogance and self-preservation. The real and perceived lack of influence of Matabeleland within the Zimbabwean political space drives that ideological location; investigating Gukurahundi is a ‘waste’ of resources to the largely ethnic Shona constituency that wields real power in the country’s politics.
In this space Matabeleland and any individuals identified or classed as Ndebeles by the system largely occupy weak and marginalised positions; our rights continue to shrink as does our peace and liberty. This a cleverly monitored space that turns victims into aggressors; whenever we question the unfair system and the institutions that facilitate tribalism and by extension our unjust treatment, we are vilified and called tribalists; we are tribalists for pointing out tribalism and tribalists while real tribalists and apologists for the tribal systems and institutions are immortalised.
The irrational act of blaming Matabeleland victims is self-serving deception that forms gratuitous cover for the aggressors in ZANU PF. It allows them an assumed right to sit in judgment, imagining some mystical justice over the delusional crimes created for victims, thus ensuring the aggressors’ own safety.
We know that even at the best of times, ethnic Shona dominated political organisations are in denial of Gukurahundi atrocities; the issue is temporarily included in their populist campaign messages out of political need not principle. There remains a large number of ethnic Shona people spread across a wide socio-political background who, although viewing the Gukurahundi atrocities as gruesome, see the intervention as a political necessity at the time.
Our biggest concern as people of Matabeleland is that Zimbabwe’s independence has been a moral and intellectual humiliation to our desires and expectations of freedom and independence. All right-minded people will acknowledge that the ZANU PF leadership has overseen a collective failure of government – and a collapse of will by the Zimbabwean establishment – to deliver on the mandate of the people of Matabeleland. Our mandate is the creation of an economy and politics that not only provides better quality of life but ensures equal access to opportunity, and a social space that acknowledges difference.
If the MDC Alliance represents the next generation of politics but is not prepared to save us, the next generation, we are already in deep trouble. The Zimbabwean system and institutions as they stand today are an assault on democracy, they continue to cheat the Matabeleland electorate of their right to be themselves. However, we will not despair but fight till real change happens, and things that are important to us are viewed as such.