Mashonaland, not Matabeleland, must change attitude

It is disconcerting and disgusting to hear ‘independent’ political analysts trying to apportion blame to Matabeleland people for the tribal disharmony in Zimbabwe. These groups or individuals seek political relevance through a failed attempt to mask actions of a clearly tribalist and offensive political system created by ZANU tribalists and backed by most in Mashonaland.

When asked, ‘What is the role of Mthwakazi in uniting the people of Zimbabwe?’ What immediately comes to mind is, ‘What has Mthwakazi not done and what has Mashonaland done?’ Zimbabwean society has a collective responsibility to facilitate change in the Zimbabwean political destiny, but facts must not be clouded by emotions.

The beginning of change in Zimbabwe will happen when those communities not affected by tribalism start to feel the same pain as those affected by it; when Mashonaland starts to identify with Gukurahundi victims for non-selfish political motives, its worldview will be altered, and genuine change will unfold.

Let us stop beating by the bush, political change in Zimbabwe is contingent on Mashonaland and ethnic Shona people pulling their weight in confronting the wholly inappropriate political system that has overseen widespread human rights abuses.

We need to acknowledge tribal patronage as the source of our problems and realise that Mashonaland has naïvely bought the ZANU PF narrative and believed the workings of the world revolved around it. Mashonaland has foolishly validated institutional tribalism that has blocked out Matabeleland and other minority population groups from meaningful political participation.

Mashonaland must be ready to do away with the sense of entitlement. This self-absorbed mentality has to go for the country to move as one. It has to be fully understood that if the country continues being ‘all about Mashonaland’ the inevitable would be that Mashonaland will end up being ‘all by itself’ and Matabeleland being its own entity.

We accept it is everybody’s duty to alter the Zimbabwean political course but we need to be realistic, and judging by numerical figures alone, only Mashonaland can realistically cause change in the political course of Zimbabwe. In the 2018, elections, of the 210 constituencies, only 38 were in Matabeleland and Bulawayo.

Mthwakazi cannot bend the Zimbabwean political course but will do well to work on changing those portions that we can alter; let us build internal political capital and assert ourselves within so as to deny space to ZANU PF and the MDC Alliance shenanigans.

Like Scotland to the UK, independent or not, a politically empowered Mthwakazi is not a threat but an essential component to a strong foundation for the future of Zimbabwe. We need an accountable system supported by equally accountable institutions. At present, Mashonaland legislators are obsessed with power acquisition and not ready to work with Mthwakazi for a new political dispensation that serves the interests of all citizens. As long as trust is unjustifiably withheld, eyes will remain focused on the wrong enemy while the real enemy reigns supreme.

A culture of self-centredness has deepened, and the role of politicians has turned into protection of private than public interest. We have a whole generation of legislators who are obsessed with power and have set as a secondary role serving the public.  

For years, Mashonaland legislatures from government and the opposition have, through inaction or half-hearted action, supported instead of challenging and calling government to account for its historical abuses in Matabeleland and Ndebele parts of the Midlands; by so doing, they have been complicit in government perpetrated abuses and lost all moral authority to advance a progressive political system.

Lack of political justice within the current Zimbabwean system is deeply disturbing; hatred and discrimination have no place in society and must not be tolerated, especially from our leaders. It has to be recognised that the Gukurahundi issue arouses decades of anger, anguish and tribal violence perpetrated by this government and has eroded all confidence in government among Matabeleland and Ndebele citizens.   

A progressive politics in Zimbabwe is one that will oversee a system in which people will be seen, heard and treated as equals before the law and beyond; when ability and not social background and people’s last names define what opportunities can or cannot be accessed. That progress is dependent on Mashonaland legislators and the general Shona population demonstrating without a shadow of a doubt that the political views they harboured and preserved over the years are not the same views they hold today.

The ZANU PF political utopia of oneness with total disregard to difference is the panacea of the political intolerance experienced today. The party’s (and the supporters of its philosophical stance) views of Mthwakazi are disgusting, reprehensible and offensive.

Such is an attitude born of blind loyalty and tribal patronage; it rips off the scabs of an excruciatingly painful history and is a piercing reminder of Zimbabwean systems’ failings. Matabeleland is the victim and not the instigator of tribalism in Zimbabwe. Anyone who, even remotely, seeks to excuse Matabeleland abuse by the ZANU PF government is just as culpable.

Matabeleland’s commitment to unity in Zimbabwe is not in question; Zimbabwe’s past is replete with examples of Matabeleland leadership extending their hand to reach out to Mashonaland to dismantle the prevailing unfair system – Matabeleland has compromised, but Mashonaland’s sense of entitlement has rendered such compromise redundant. Instead, Mashonaland politicians have further taken Matabeleland hostage, expanded their hold on power regardless of the negative impact of such a move to peace.

If there is to be genuine unity between Mashonaland and Matabeleland, limits have to set on Mashonaland’s conduct and its sense of entitlement must go. The sense of entitlement has led Mashonaland to have unfair and unreasonable expectations, so that Zimbabwean political matrix revolves around its demands. Mashonaland must understand it is not owed anything but needs to give back all privileges unfairly acquired causing Mthwakazi needs to be neglected and Zimbabwean systems to be anchored by tribally selective institutions.

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