There is a special place in the political dumpsite for political organisations who instead of empowering their constituents take people’s unfettered trust and apparent vulnerabilities and abuse them for political gain.
Our past is an essential part of who we are, it is very important that we capture it as closely as possible for our history, but the intention of that history must never be to validate victimhood for political gain. Without changing the past, we must remodel our historical narration and not let it interfere with our destiny.
Despite what some people may think and say, perception in politics makes or breaks leaders and organisations – many with good intentions have fallen foul to the perceptual knife. Greater care must be taken on who, what, where, when and how ideas are communicated. Who, where, when and how one delivers their message is as important (if not more) as its content.
Our political organisations must not place themselves in a position where they are perceived to be seeking power entirely for their own sake. They must be seen to be interested in the good of their constituents, not just power.
We are well aware that power is a fundamental and enabling instrument in politics. An instrument to do ‘evil’ or an instrument to do ‘good’. Power itself is not evil; it is as good or evil as the person privileged to have it.
A cheap racket of tribal attacks must not be the avenue we pursue because that is the foundation for bad, dangerous and divisive politics. Good politics improves system and institutions. Bad politics, on the other hand, always tries to concentrate power in individuals and criticise the public for problems.
Nothing truly empowering will emerge from a political ideology entrenched in victimhood and obsessed with and solely focused on stories of how things have been. Our politicians must unfold their own story, be courageous to be creative, come up with practicable ideas that empower people so that systemic barriers currently threatening our socioeconomic, cultural and political identity and security lose their power over us.
Leadership is a huge responsibility to individuals and organisations. Our leaders must understand their role and influence in society; they need to watch their language and actions both in private and in public; they must now move away from any unethical proceedings that pit citizens against each other.
Caution must be taken in our selection of words when dealing with political sensitivity. It is not an exaggeration that many would be constructive political discussions by Mthwakazi movements have ended up turning into clandestine pointless exchanges lacking focus due to politicians choosing the use of morally inadequate language.
Use of measured and at times conciliatory language in politics is neither a sign of cowardice nor a threat to the message being conveyed – it does not water down a strong message or alter the content. Being careful in how one uses language is a sign of maturity and recognition of one’s responsibilities to themselves, their supporters, their opponents hence society, including future generations.
There is no doubt we need power to change how politics is done in Mthwakazi. But there must be clarity we do not want political power so that we can have the privilege to abuse anyone who disagrees with us, indiscriminately dismiss tribes that we strongly feel entitled to hate, abuse races different from ours, but we want power to develop our once great nation turned on its head by years of poor governance.
You do not empower people by persistently reinforcing the mentality that they are deprived, vulnerable, powerless victims of a system but through a creative politics of hope that reinforces the idea that for every barrier laid in front of them there are sufficient possibilities to get them around and out of it, and no oppressive chain is too strong to be broken.
To break chains of slavery from round our people’s necks, ankles and wrists, we still need their informed consent. Slavery is unpleasant, but people still need to understand why you are breaking off ‘their’ chains or they will run back to their masters after being unchained because they do not have an idea of what to do in their absence.
You do not empower society by appropriating its resources and ability to empower itself. It is important that communities lay claim to their freedom; it is not our primary job to give anyone freedom but our responsibility is to make them understand they are slaves and missing out on opportunities to be the best they can be.
When people understand why and how they are enslaved, they are ready for the next step. That step is working with communities on ideas and drawing up practicable goals that will empower them, and in the process break the metaphorical chains of bondage.
If we are serious and we want to break down the current political immorality and incitement to hatred, we must be seen to be building opportunities, empowering our people, and more importantly, erecting bridges across society. Politicians must be left in no doubt that anyone prepared to swap principle for power risks their credibility over their desire to change politics in Mthwakazi questioned.