Bad competition bad for Mthwakazi agenda

Recognising the political dysfunction in our space will help us effectively reconstitute our political space. We must create the right tools to build, grow and sustain a healthy political framework that meets our needs.

We need to invest – human and financial – in the Mthwakazi political innovation because the current system, which is a by-product of the Zimbabwean system, has become the major barrier to solving our needs.

One challenge right now, is that we have no means to objectively measure the performance of our system. The situation on the ground suggests we are living in the delusion that the Mthwakazi agenda is making progress when we have no tangible data to confirm that.

If we are making progress, how do we explain the political tempering of crime scenes that is sanctified by the Matabeleland Collective to the next generation?

If we keep making excuses for failure, we will deny ourselves the opportunity to correct mistakes. To grow, we need to develop an appreciation of the presiding political mechanism and fully understand the performance of our political systems.

We have the human resources and capacity, expertise and experience to create new analyses tools that shed new light on the failure of politics in Mthwakazi. Our political problems are not due to a single cause, but a multiplicity of factors one of which is the nature of the political competition that our pro-Mthwakazi actors have created.

Controversial as it may sound, the starting point for understanding the problem is to recognise that our political system is not broken. The pro-Mthwakazi organisations are merely delivering exactly what they are currently designed to deliver. Our political space is not an outcome of deeply informed policies but a mere response to ZANU PF politics as opposed to a response to our needs.

You will not change your circumstances when your ideological template and inspiration is your oppressor. How will we know we are moving forward when (as seen in the current exhumation of bodies of victims of Gukurahundi) our oppressor is the one leading the way? Change will happen when our political ideological location and systemic design are inspired by the needs of our people not the hunger for power.

What we know of the Zimbabwean political problem is that the system is, thanks to ZANU PF policies, not designed to serve Mthwakazi public interest. At independence ZANU PF started reconfiguring the system to benefit the private interests of ZANU PF members, politicians and the general ethnic Shona public.

Fundamentally, the ZANU PF dream has remained one of political utopia, one view, one language and a one-party state; the political space created and supported by the state apparatus is a paranoid space that agitates over political diversity and unease over competition.

What is becoming clear is that the Mthwakazi political space is a mutation of the ZANU PF political formula, not Mzilikazi’s progressive system of the 19th Century. We are creating a space devoid of tolerance. Ideological difference is now justification for political abuse as opposed to being an opportunity to self-introspect while we critique our opponents.

The toxicity of political intolerance is evident in the polarisation of the public. People no longer listen to one another in political exchanges. We have suffocated the space of constructive debate in which we consider other views and deliberate on.

Debates need to reflect maturity, shift from mundane name-calling soap operas and vendetta settling to a constructive exchange of ideas. We are witnesses to, at times, pathetic and immature mudslinging where malicious accusations and allegations form the focus of arguments against political rivals for political expediency.  

The pro-Mthwakazi political formations must pursue logical debates, and that calls for our formations to allow themselves to understand the others’ arguments no matter how divergent their views may seem.   

While we respect and encourage political plurality, we expect a healthy competition driven by people interest not a craving for personal glory and power.  

We appreciate organisations informing us of their activities but such messages must not take the form of self-glorification or the deliberate minimisation of other pro-Mthwakazi group’s political contribution.  

Any pro-Mthwakazi organisation that imagines it can work alone will end up surrounded by nothing but rivals, and devoid of companion. The fact is, no one ascends alone.

“Competition has been shown to be useful up to a certain point and no further, but cooperation, which is the thing we must strive for today, begins where competition leaves off.”

Franklin D. Roosevelt

A realignment of our political space and debate is necessary for progress. When political parties adopt the notion that people’s needs are what political parties need and not the other way around, the debate focus will be people interests, not political party interests. Perception is vital in politics, if the electorate thinks we are immature, they will treat us like political toddlers who cannot be burdened with expectations of grown-ups; they will not have confidence in us and what we stand for.

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Published by THE OBSERVER

a political and policy research hub with interest in Mthwakazi human rights, safety and security.

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