The greatest challenge for Mthwakazi political groups is to raise the standards of political capital in the region. Political capital will be required to get things done. But that will require a comprehensive investment in building a solid foundation of social capital. Building a large following is important, but it will take greater care to identify the right company or allies – local and international – who share our interests, motivation and commitment to build political capital.
What is Social Capital?
Social capital can be conceptualised as the links, shared values and understandings in society that enable individuals and groups to develop mutual trust and so work together. It is the quantity and quality of relationships we form. The potential usefulness of one’s social capital is dependent on who these relationships are with.
While the quality of social capital is paramount, we cannot ignore the importance of quantity. Quantity refers to the numbers, we stand a good chance of identifying and establishing great friendships if we have a large pool to choose from. Mthwakazi will need to mobilise and reach out, not blindly, but with great care, knowing who to target.
On the other hand, quality refers to the relational resonance, the reciprocal nature of trust and sharing between the people in the relationship. We recognise too the inevitability of one-way quality relationships as reciprocal relationships with the entire population are not possible.
What is Political Capital?
Simply defined, political capital is the amount of goodwill and support available within one’s relationships. The value of our political capital will be determined by the power and influence of those who bestow us with their goodwill and support, and their potential to assist us in moving our political goals forward.
While we value all people within our political sphere, we will have to ensure we are surrounded by the right people; it is of little consequence to have goodwill from people who are not in a position to help advance the Mthwakazi agenda. Facebook and twitter ‘likes’ that do not translate to feet on the ground are of little use to the Mthwakazi agenda as are ‘supporters’ unprepared to make the necessary financial investment to the project.
Politics is always eager and ready to work for anyone who is ready to employ it. We must take control of the politics obtaining in our territory. It has become evident that the ZANU PF-led regime is no longer fit to lead Mthwakazi and to impose its conditions of existence upon our society as the over-riding law.
The damage of Zimbabwean politics to Mthwakazi
Zimbabwean independence has been nothing but a social and political disaster for Mthwakazi. The government is the author and convenor of a social system designed to disable and destroy social capital among Mthwakazi citizens and between pro-Mthwakazi groups and Zimbabwean nationalist politicians in Mthwakazi.
By extension, political capital has been devastated to a level where we are failing to convince our own people that we are the right choice for them. The obtaining political regime is the creation of ZANU PF made to preserve its victory over the loser (Mthwakazi).
Quite frankly, ZANU PF is a one-party state admirer and unfit to rule over Mthwakazi because it is too incompetent to assure equality, safety and security in a diverse society like ours; the party has always felt threatened by difference. As such, Mthwakazi society can no longer live under the ZANU PF/ MDC political regime; in other words, the existence of this regime is no longer compatible with our society.
Building Mthwakazi social and political capital
Unreasonable as it sounds, we have a society that is still investing in Zimbabwean politics. Our own people who believe a poorer version of ZANU (the MDC) is a solution to Mthwakazi political problems; they think, apart from ZANU PF, the current political regime is good for Mthwakazi. To such characters challenging the resultant Shona privilege and the impact of the deficit of this regime to us is tribalism.
We have a social and political responsibility to break that cycle of thinking, change the passage of things, but we need society’s consent. If we are to bring our politics in close alignment with our social constituency, our internal political philosophy has to be overhauled. For long our pro-Mthwakazi political groups have seemed not to acknowledge the social capital that surrounds and sustains them. Let us place appropriate value to the local populations.
Our groups have lived on the assumption that what was good for them would be good for Mthwakazi. That has turned out to be wrong; we must change our ideological construct so that we will live by the contrary assumption, that what is good for Mthwakazi will be good for us. As expected, that requires that we make the effort to acquaint ourselves with Mthwakazi people’s needs and learn what is good for them from them before we introduce our innovations.
We will have to take whatever action is necessary to preserve the social and political identity of Mthwakazi. Examine things in terms of what is ethically and aesthetically right, as well as what is economically expedient. First, we deplore the lack of civic commitment to local activities and the rise of individualism within Mthwakazi which is threatening our efforts to transform the political space for it to meet the needs of the region and its people.
Let us stop aspiring to be what we are not; trying to fit in the unwelcoming MDC/ ZANU PF social and political regime has been detrimental to local growth and stability. We will only retain, nourish and relish all that which preserves the integrity, stability, and beauty of our community. Our primary concern should be caring for ourselves, it is not self-indulgence but an act of self-preservation. Removal of all internal barriers and all that which threatens to harm us must be at the top of our priorities.
We have a huge task of building right relationships with the right people if we are to expand our political influence in Mthwakazi. This will help us optimise the various resources that people may have through their relationships in families, communities and other social networks. Political groups will need to create an enabling environment that connects people together and facilitate links beyond the immediate constituency and neighbours.