Zimbabwe’s disastrous tribal supremacy politics has quite literally shattered Matabeleland’s political grasp while the subsequent cynicism and pessimism have destroyed Matabeles’ confidence in politics, damaged people’s participation and undermined institutions of all kind. We thus stand demoralised, defeated and marginalised within what should be independence in Zimbabwe.
The way forward goes beyond complaining. We have a duty to take back authority of our region and design our political systems and institutions around our norms and values. We have long become very pessimistic; we are not only bound by fear from our Gukurahundi experience but also have developed a generic lack of faith in all politics and politicians, including alternative political ideas being sold by political parties with vested interest in the region.
Random activities make it difficult for pro-Matabeleland political activism to make an impression in the region. The socio-political groups must shape up or be tossed off the political platform. Our political space is both a complex and uncertain environment in a constant state of change. To achieve the status of being a central aspect of Matabeleland change and progress, political organisations will need to be proactive and responsive to remain the central part of the evolution and not a residue of it.
While planned changes would be preferable over unplanned, often chaotic changes, we must understand that the changes within socio-political organisations are a function of both foreseeable and unforeseeable internal and external factors and changes can be short, medium or long-term, an evolution or revolution. For instance, natural changes in leadership and administration incumbents, budgetary changes, constitutional changes impacting legislative arrangements and other arrangements, broader economic and political factors, competition between parties, splits, mergers, collaborations, demographic factors and electorate expectations; a combination of all these changes may lead to organisational changes sometimes for the better, sometimes for the worse.
Planned changes must be our target and political creativity is vital in the strategic alignment of our organisations. If politics is a conversation, every Mthwakazian has a voice and must be heard. The reckless neglect of civilians in the creation of our politics is a weakness shared by many of our pro-Matabeleland political groups. Their policies are detached from the people whom they claim to be representing – a serious indictment to their credentials.
If there is one area, apart from ZANU PF ‘victories’ in Matabeleland South, Zimbabwean elections have been consistent on in Mthwakazi, it is that there is no shared vision about the kind of political future we want. Our people continue to demonstrate their loyalty to ZANU PF/ MDC. We have seen too that turning the debate into a Ndebele – Shona polarisation does not capture the imagination of citizens in a diverse society like ours where diversity has never been an issue, yet some groups persist with the strategy.
What is undeniable is how crucial planning will be in informing the pro-Matabeleland agenda’s political operations. The space that we identify as Mthwakazi is vast and diverse, and unsurprisingly at times suffers from conflicting political ideologies. Socio-cultural diversity is important, and we will fight to protect it, but we also need to create a safe political space to work together and design common strategic and operational plans.
Together we must set goals and choose the means to achieve those goals. Plans are crucial in assisting leaders know how to organise people and resources effectively as they would have an idea of what needs to be organised. Without a clear plan, the Mthwakazi agenda will fail; leaders cannot lead with confidence or expect others to follow them if they do not know where they are going.
We can confidently say all groups share the view that the pertaining conditions are nowhere near our perception of freedom and independence, but they are deeply lacking in organisation to change our experience. Without a common and viable plan, leaders and their followers have limited chance of achieving their goals or knowing when and where they depart from their path. Faulty plans are more likely to affect the future of the entire pro-Mthwakazi agenda than ZANU PF and MDC efforts put together.
Setting Mthwakazi free is everyone’s business, if we do not appreciate that, we are not ready for change. I will revisit the idea of a coalition and argue that the success or failure of the Mthwakazi agenda initiative will be subject to how effectively we build a guiding coalition that will bring together influential groups and individuals who support the agenda. This support, or not, forms a powerful force either toward or away from the goal and it is the support gained that will be the difference between whether we make a breakthrough or stay broken.
Without planning, all pro-Mthwakazi political activities will be meaningless. We must set aside pride and not allow it to inhibit our freedom and independence aspirations. Damaging as they are, cynicism and polarisation between local socio-political groups and between communities must never be allowed to undermine the truth that together we weld more political power to change our politics than we dare imagine. In a socio-culturally diverse region like Matabeleland, building a system and institutions that satisfy every community will encounter complexities that threaten its success but that should not be an excuse for internal sabotage.