Rethinking our politics

Difficult times call for difficult decisions and tough measures. In the face of colonialism our fathers’ generation fought; in the face of today’s difficulties, today’s Mthwakazi generation needs to be decisive; shunning our responsibility to change things is a risk we cannot afford. Matabeleland needs a political transformation reflective of local norms and values and led by conscientious individuals and/ or groups with genuine public interest.

If we – the people – love Mthwakazi enough, we must take full responsibility for the political development in the region. We believe it is worthwhile for an Mthwakazi focused political movement to take local control, but Mthwakazi movements must be left in no doubt that citizens will reject a political brand built on greed. Mthwakazi national movements must not be turned into pseudo-tribal institutions. 

Mthwakazi must protect itself from the Zimbabwean-style ‘representative’ democracy anchored by parties whose brand is an outcome of greed thus their key feature remains an inclination to tribal identity with very little emphasis on policy.

We want power, but not at all cost; any power whose intention is to frustrate the workings of society for the benefit of the elite is unwelcome; politicians should be under no illusion that we will never sacrifice our personal freedoms for them to gain power.  

To suggest that political parties are driven by hunger for power is misleading; that a political party or political leader is power hunger does not incline the electorate to vote for that party or leader, rather it is the aggregate of what the party or leader stands for that influences people’s decision to vote or not to vote for them.

If Matabeleland believes unfair power distribution between the regions (Mashonaland and Mthwakazi) and between the elite and the general public within the Zimbabwean system is the cause of our problems, discovering that our potential representative is power hunger would be a darker marker on their profile. It would be foolish to expect such a leader to freely share power fairly between different political institutions.

If hunger for power is the main value of your politics, if you combine that morally questionable value with poor discipline within the system, you have unfathomable disaster awaiting you. Corruption inevitably becomes the cornerstone of your politics; the politician permanently suspends moral intelligence so s/he is blunted to reality while facilitating the stripping of ordinary citizens’ dignity.

We argue thus, the best way that we can survive, is if we grow. Growth comes from change which in turn is acquired from learning, and to learn one needs exposure. The only way that we can become exposed is if we challenge ourselves beyond imposed limitations and put ourselves out to where things are happening.

When you are dealing with an arrogant government that is willing to embarrass you and your traditional leadership for executing its traditional duties, you know hiding and inaction are no longer sustainable actions; we need to be at the centre of all that is happening in our political sphere – nothing for us, without us.

As argued in the last blog, we will not advocate for hunger for power as a foundation of our politics. We have learned from the best in incompetence and we will be wise not to follow in the footsteps of an emotionally driven politics of ethnic identity deployed for decades and with catastrophic outcomes by the MDC/ ZANU PF sphere of evil. This is the time for a strategic, more objective and less emotion driven politics; it is a time to plan, develop and employ an “anti-access and area denial” political approach that will effectively circle out ZANU PF and the MDC.

Whatever we do hunger for power is not the answer, but hunger to study and implement appropriate strategies is the only way to develop sustainable political growth and the eventual acquisition of real power. Fundamentally, our political counter-intervention must sort to undermine ZANU PF and the MDC’s abilities to project their political power into our region.

Mthwakazi knows ZANU PF and MDC capabilities, particularly their readiness to exploit Shona tribe’s demographic supremacy; we now need to draw up an effective strategy to mitigate the traditional sources of these parties’ political power, not least the ZANU PF’s powerful support in rural areas, the central element of the party’s ability to use state resources to project political force.

How effectively we identify and expose ZANU PF and MDC fraudulent activities will be essential for Mthwakazi parties’ future. A lot of work is already being done, but it lacks funding and coordination to have a far-reaching long-term effect.

There is no longer any comfort zone for anyone opposed to the MDC/ ZANU PF sphere of evil; we need to be robust and unrelenting in our efforts against MDC/ ZANU PF propaganda, but let us be clear of the difference between tribe (social identity) and tribalism (a political ideology). Steer clear of social identity targeting and victimisation and focus on factual presentation and clearly show how local interests are being undermined by the MDC/ ZANU PF tribalism.

The best way of transforming our politics will be through building strong political movements founded on accountability and intent on promoting an accountable system. Weak, ill-disciplined political parties cannot run strong, disciplined government institutions, instead they transpose their dysfunction into wider government operations as is the case in Zimbabwe today.

We will not pretend otherwise, colonialism was a dehumanising experience for Mthwakazi, but the suffering we have endured under a ZANU PF Shona eccentric government in modern-day Zimbabwe has perhaps been stronger than all other teaching we have received in our socio-political existence, and has taught us to understand what hunger for power really is. We have been bent and broken, but – we hope – now into a better shape.

Published by RESEARCH HUB

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

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