Greater care must be taken as we embark on the journey of building a political brand that is exclusively Mthwakazi; our brand must reflect trust to the public, for trust is the base principle that holds relationships; it is the glue that will attach our political parties to our communities.
Fundamental to trust is consistency; if we cannot keep our promises, it is best we do not make them. Our word is our brand and if our word contradicts the quality of our policies and the services we deliver, we will have difficulty convincing our community to trust us.
Years of not only bent, but broken promises have left an emotionally damaged population with little to no trust in politics and politicians. We must give a thought to everything we do right from the logos we use down to the work we do. Remember our people have suffered enormously in the hands of tribally inclined politics and policies; a supremacist politics based purely on tribal identity is unlikely to be an attractive offering for the political centre that forms the majority.
We better understand the experiences and have insight into the traumatic experiences of the Mthwakazi population under the tyrannical rule of ZANU PF. As such, if we want Mthwakazi to hear us and our desired message of change, we need not mirror ZANU PF in any shape or form; in our engagement let us not open with insults, attacks and attitudes that mirror that satanic organisation and its policies.
Sensitivity would be central to our political design. Causing emotional trauma is easy but the treatment of it is a patient, expensive and challenging exercise. As pointed earlier, in Mthwakazi, we are dealing with a vulnerable population that long lost confidence in politics. We will have to work hard at doing the hard things well.
We are in a wrecked political environment where skin colour and tribe define human value, dictate allocation of resources, application of rules, etc. We are under no obligation to adopt that political wreckage but we have a duty to rid our political space of this wreck, design and build a new political relationship with the people.
It is easy to fall into the trap of retaliation mode and find ourselves creating victims of our own, committing the same atrocities and practicing the same political ideology as those we are fighting today. Yes, it remains our primary goal that those who committed crimes against humanity are arrested and charged, but we are best leaving that to competent courts.
Emotions are a vital element of human nature but there are times when objectivity will have to take precedence for level-headed interventions to take effect. Being fair and consistent is the hallmark of effective and non-discriminating policies, and that should be our aim. If we are going to set up rules that all have to abide by, then we have to enforce them to all. Or it becomes targeting and discriminating. That way we lose our integrity as a political brand; we lose our effectiveness to keep the loyalty of the electorate and our political partners – local and international.
The transformative efforts of our politics begin in the will to let those we lead be perfectly themselves; we are clear Mthwakazi is a diverse society, and no community should be twisted to fit an image other than its own. If in serving any community we do not respect what they are, but only their potential likeness to ourselves, then we do not respect them at all.
Serving people is about forming trusting relationships, let us not make assumptions that we know what people need; people are experts of their experience and often know what they need although they may not always know how to change things. With that in mind, let us go back to our communities and find out what their political desires are, and guided by that information, let us use our expertise, contacts and advisers to build policies that people will identify with.
The most powerful and enduring political brands are built from and with the public. Such brands are real and sustainable. Their foundations are stronger because they are built with the strength of the human spirit, not a political campaign. Political campaigns can help build brands but the parties that endure the test of time are those that are authentic. If people believe they share values with a political party’s brand, they will stay loyal to the brand.
Adding to the argument, some people argue that authentic brands do not emerge from campaigns or political advisers but they emanate from everything the party does. Our behaviour as organisations and individuals will define how far we go and how long the project lasts.
While we can, we will work hard to lay the strong foundations on which the next generation will build. Centralised governance must go, direct democracy and devolved powers be our political script. We want a Mthwakazi brand that is closely connected with the people so that whosoever wants to find us will have to go to the people first.