Our identity must be our political centre of gravity. Political reality is that our strength will be drawn from our identity not from mimicking others’ cultures and ideas drawn from those foreign cultures. If we do not define ourselves, we stand to be defined and shaped by everybody we come to contact with.
The need for us to define ourselves has never been more urgent, but whatever we do politically, let it never be lost that our communities existed long before political institutions came to being. The traditional state of Mthwakazi was made up of different communities with a common sense of purpose and a feeling of duty to one another.
Our past and our history will be critical in shaping our political direction, identifying the right path that not only draws from previous generations but also sets up future generations.
Our issue with the Zimbabwe independence
Right at its infancy, the benefits of Zimbabwean independence became clouded in mystery to Mthwakazi people; when we decided to take stock of how independent we were, it became apparent that the images used to describe Zimbabwean independence did not fit us. We were not anti-white, we were not against social and political diversity and we certainly did not fit in with the ideological Shona supremacy agenda promoted by Zimbabwe’s mainstream politicians.
We realised we were under the veil of a country averse to pluralistic institutions; it was an independence that did not recognise different types of freedom, economic, cultural, and political, which ironically happen to be interrelated. This was a delusion headed and guarded by paranoid xenophobes who saw fear, deprivation and other abuses as the convenient way of securing their political careers.
Challenges for the day
Today we choose to be pro-active, assertive and self-defining. As we try to resuscitate our identity, we are aware of an array of challenges that lie before us. Before we even consider external distractors, we must consider the internal ones already apparent within our space.
The most dangerous of people within the Mthwakazi political space have not been the tiny minority instigating internal division, but those who do the acts for them. We have our own clueless people wilfully de-campaigning every local initiative, unfairly castigating the legitimate inward-looking political narrative and unfairly calling every regional empowerment promotion tribalism – this is music in the ears of the tribal focused national government of Zimbabwe.
Even more worrying, we have Mthwakazi political formations scratching each other and competing where coordination of activities would be more beneficial for our political and social capital. The current Mthwakazi political crises command that the different sociopolitical formations connect deeply with each other — struggle together and rejoice together.
Setting priorities right
We do expect conflict of interest now and then, but every pro-Mthwakazi organisation has a responsibility to risk assess for objectivity and to prioritise wars. Not every war should be fought.
The social stability of Mthwakazi was directly linked with our different communities making appropriate sacrifices for the benefit of all. That essential aspect of our being must not be surrendered. We will not seek definition from ZANU PF constructed institutions, what independence is. To us independence is the freedom to be who we are as defined by our precolonial heroes for social and economic growth.
Every period of political development has its specific political conflict. ‘Strategy and application’ are the primary conflict of this generation. There is unhealthy competition between political formations holding different ideological locations, different positions that should work well together if properly assessed and prioritised.
Focusing on the future
Lest we forget, we do not have to hold same views or to be friends to work together; remember, we do not achieve harmony by singing the same note, but through the ingenuity of blending different notes we do harmonise. We must appreciate the talents and roles of our different formations in this superstructure we are trying to build. No single organisation has all the skills, expertise and solutions to our challenges.
Focus must centre on our responsibility to build a political system and institutions that do not respond to ZANU PF and its ideas of independence but to our definition of independence. While we believe in the creation of institutions that promote, support and protect equality, Zimbabwean politics is about turning delusions of tribal supremacy into unshakable truth through the power of institutions.
We must not lose our self-control, in the process surrender it to dysfunctional Zimbabwean institutions. For we gain nothing by losing our temper with institutions that are already out of control, we will not gain anything but only set out on the self-destructive path of stupidity.
Calls from some organisations for the exclusion of certain tribes from Mthwakazi must be called for what they are – bigotry. To believe that the expulsion of some tribes will amount to our freedom is desperate politics.
Generalisation is a lazy approach to problem solving. The question is not about which tribe is in power but what kind of institutions are in place to protect citizens from leaders willing to abuse power mandated to them. Our vision should be a balanced system that ensures no institution is ever more powerful than any other; institutions should clang on each other for real democracy to be achieved.
Just like a building project, politics is a complex undertaking that involves a number of specialties or stakeholders. A building project would include the following major experts: the client, architect, land surveyor, structural engineer, quantity surveyor, electrical engineer, mechanical engineer, a contractor and others. We have a duty to identify the right talent with the right expertise to work on building the right system and institutions for our land.
The major sequences of construction are marking, excavation, concreting, brick masonry, roof laying, flooring and finishing. Even with the best talent around, the building will not be raised if this sequence is not followed diligently. Our politicians will need to understand, not only their roles and policies but other organisations’; that may not be easy yet necessary and the only way genuine progress can be achieved.
Political institutions are essential, but they come after – and not before – people. People must be the core authors of our politics. We are a socially diverse nation with equally diverse political views that all deserve equal respect, but we are not advising unconditional approval. Peace is never the absence of conflict; it is not the avoidance of all conflict within the Mthwakazi political space that would define our political maturity and growth, but the active avoidance of unnecessary self-indulgence and destructive competition. Indeed, the measure of our political growth would not be the absence of conflict but the presence of creative alternatives for responding to conflict.