We are an ocean of ideas, a flood of talent yet we remain politically marginalised. Just like a pile of bricks is not a palace, great ideas are not a system, they must be executed; the ideas need to be broken down into their manageable constituents in an organised pattern and defined individually to be fully understood by people, brought to order and aligned with our needs.
If we want a new political dispensation, we must stop the indulgence with the old dispensation. We cannot continue to enjoy the comfort of great ideas in our minds without the discomfort of their execution if we are serious about changing the Mthwakazi political narrative.
When we call for action, we do not mean any action but targeted and sustained action that will deepen and broaden the Mthwakazi political capital. Our entire system, in a political sense, must not be based on opportunism, unplanned and disorganised action that has often left individuals exposed and vulnerable to state abuse.
Opportunistic action has its place but as part of a robust, planned set of events. Chaos and irresponsibility sold as bravery are acts of sabotage that undermine the Mthwakazi movement. In politics, boundaries represent awareness, knowing what the limits are and then respecting those limits is vital for our political progression. No single group will deliver our needs, collaboration is no longer an option but a necessary constituent of good political practice and the best means to integrate all the ideas and bring together most of the talent in the region.
Our downside is that at present policies of most socio-political organisations are only construed by members’ interests and have tended to position the rest of the Mthwakazi community as less salient voices in the process. The assumption has been that what upset or enthused members was, in equal measure, what upset and enthused the rest of society and people’s support of the groups’ policies has appeared as a taken for granted, problem free concept that assumes knowledge is universal and interests are shared within our complex socio-political space.
The reality on the ground is different; while we share the goal of freedom, groups and individuals are troubled and enthused by different things. The conceived solutions are, at best, as different as the conceived problems. We have groups and individuals whose preference is cutting ourselves off from Zimbabwean systems and institutions on one side; these are people often calling for an armed intervention who would only listen to Mthwakazi independence.
On the other hand, we have groups in favour of nonviolent means who also do not believe in a geographically independent state of Mthwakazi but conceptualise a genuine decentralisation of power from the current State to regions as the way forward. Suffice to say there are various ideological positions in between these two extremes and all these need to be brought together to construct the best way forward – not an easy task but not impossible either.
Sacrifices must be made, self-glorification must go and in must come shared Mthwakazi interests; we are no longer satisfied with just great ideas but great leaders. We are talking of leaders who will be prepared to sacrifice individual crowning opportunities to lay the groundwork for this and the next generation’s success, and then stand back and let Mthwakazi shine.
Instead of collaborative work, groups have tended to withdraw into their safety zones and build even higher protective walls around themselves meaning they cannot see what is going on outside themselves and they cannot be seen either. The result is a whole generation of enclaves of great ideas disconnected from our constituency and not in a usable state to help empower the region.
It comes as no surprise that the organic growth of our organisations is stalling and nowhere near the projections of many groups. We have a responsibility to convince our communities that we are right, and their future is safe and secure in our ideological posturing. First, protective walls of convenience must go.
We need to understand why our youth continue to support the two main Zimbabwean political organisations despite their apparent anti-Mthwakazi policies. This is undoubtedly a function of internal political dysfunction that must be addressed, but we must locate the source for that dysfunction first.
It is very difficult to develop a proper sense of self-esteem in a dysfunctional society. We have far too many cracks that perpetuate confusion and isolation of our brave would-be heroes and leave a power vacuum that has been exploited time and again by the oppressor. Worryingly, we have mastered a sense of inferiority and critiquing our own characters’ defects has become overwhelming such that there is no room for objective inward focus.
The challenge has often been that whenever collaboration has been conceived, the mood and language around policies has obscured issues of power and competing interests. Without clarity on the sensitive issues of power transactions and how responsibility and benefits would be shared across different groups in victory, getting different groups to form sustainable collaboration becomes an impossibility.
We must not neglect the importance of transparency and shared goals and the distribution of power that underpins collaborative work as such negligence has damaging effects on the ability for our groups and people to work together.
Our groups have focused on and elevated the status of tribalism in the politics in Zimbabwe and its impact on Matabeleland. While there is value in that debate, there is no evidence of the political capital in targeting, for abuse, ordinary ethnic Shona people for abuses committed by the State in Mthwakazi. Intense flames of hate will deliver the smoke that suffocates everyone.
A chaotic change pleases no one yet it builds self-made heroes. Without planning, dreams stay dreams; Mthwakazi cannot be empowered by dysfunctional organisations whose only visible activity is self-crowning and mismanaging crises in the region. We must put planning at the core of what we do; we are a nation of laws and norms not subject to the self-interested actions of a few. The job of freeing Mthwakazi is for all who call Mthwakazi home, those groups or individuals who are prepared to take the risks of representing our needs must do so in full knowledge that their contribution, valued as it is, must be within the context of our values not their self-interest.