Our independence was born out of opposition, opposition to the power of the colonial government that oppressed black people’s rights and the desire for equality of citizens. We got territorial independence but lost individual freedoms. Today’s Matabeleland opposition is born out of the desire to resist the aggressive forces overwhelming us, i.e. the resistance to crumbling under the weight of ZANU PF/ MDC tribal Shona agenda.
Role of the Opposition
Above all else, it is the duty of the MDC Alliance (MDC-A) as the official opposition to do its best to call the government to account, i.e. to see that the actions of the government are in the best interests of the country, not simply the ZANU PF party.
The opposition’s job is to improve legislation by forcing the government to explain itself more clearly, to consider the consequences of its enactments, and also to expose the role of vested interests and conflicts of interest. This means that the MDC-A has to be content to oppose until such time as it may find itself in office, when it can expect to face opposition of its actions from the official opposition. An opposition, like the MDC-A, that spends its entire time and resources on dreaming and scheming how to win the next election is nothing but useless.
Arguably, except within the MDC-A corridors of power, the farcical inauguration of Nelson Chamisa as the ‘people’s president’ recently actually empowered ZANU PF showing it to be a tolerant party to the international community; while we cannot measure the collateral benefits of that farce, we can be sure it has not altered the government’s faltering economic recovery.
Unfortunately, a government that does not have to face scrutiny or answer the tough questions of the opposition will take what is open to it, that is, the line of least resistance, and that is exactly what ZANU PF is doing.
It is no secret that since the MDC split in 2005, the MDC’s opposition credentials have been questionable in Matabeleland. The MDC-A, as a party, as opposition is toothless at the moment, it is in a far worse condition now than it was under Tsvangirai, back then it was still doing its job as an opposition challenging the brutal Mugabe regime. Since the last election in end of July 2018, it is not.
We acknowledge that in the face of a government that operates an iron-fisted approach to discipline when it comes to the management of Matabeleland and ethnic Ndebele people, successfully challenging their tribal leaning policies is a difficult task.
Our concern in Matabeleland is that the MDC-A has become a true copy of ZANU PF, albeit lacking in resources to effectively externalise its brutality; it has vested interest in promoting and protecting Shona supremacist policies, hence it finds itself conflicted when it comes to fighting tribal supremacy in government; the party has not only failed to force government retreats on regressive policies but has itself been guilty of promoting ethnic Shona supremacy.
Where do Mthwakazi socio-political organisations come in?
It is not lost to us that opposition is neither a job limited only to Parliamentarians, nor a matter only for the MDC. It is a lot easier to be a parliamentarian asking questions in regulated debates within the four walls of parliament than it is to take your case to the people. But, it is a challenge that should not intimidate us; we should be fighting and should be working on ideas. Herein comes Matabeleland socio-political groups.
The several groups inhabiting our political space must suspend individual interests and operate as a broad grassroots network to empower our local population to build a movement that can promote the election of locals to parliament to press on the national executive to see and take our interests as not only local but national interests to be addressed on a national platform.
The present situation
Our space is an ocean of ideas, Matabeleland activists are on the forefront of fighting the MDC and ZANU PF tribal bias in our communities, resisting the damaging minimisation of the Gukurahundi atrocities of the early 1980s and promoting both perceived and real equality, security and safety of social diversity.
In addition to campaigning against ZANU PF/ MDC damaging socio-political and economic policies, we need to take things further and start providing real support to those most affected by them. We need to be exploring and pursuing mutual interests and working with our business community. We must fill the void created by the MDC-A/ ZANU PF leadership and provide real solidarity in communities across Matabeleland while exposing the brutality of the heartless government.
Matabeleland socio-political groups must organise local cultural events to open up political discussion in communities where many of our people have felt disengaged with politics and marginalised by the political elite.
“All men are created equal and independent . . . from that equal creation they derive rights inherent and inalienable, among which are the preservation of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness” (Thomas Jefferson’s first draft of the Declaration of Independence).
Matabeleland must no longer allow its space to be used for recycled tribalism. We must start to condition and focus our discussion towards policy with a view to deciding our policies. We must put brakes on personalities and loyalty to tribe and look at substance. There is a need to start talking about why our people continue to be attracted to the MDC-A if we are to find a viable long-term political solution that matches the mood of our constituency.
We want to send a message to the world that Matabeleland is a diverse society and we are committed to making it a secure and safe space for diversity; whoever the electorate send to Parliament to represent our interests will be down to ability not tribe.