Building Mthwakazi political power

Silence betrays, Mthwakazi can no longer be silent about the socio-political brutality of the Zimbabwean regime. A change must come. The detractors who claim a political change is beyond us, only mean we cannot do it with them.

For Mthwakazi, April 1980 marked the beginning not of a journey to freedom, but a slip into annexation by Mashonaland. The Zimbabwe regime is neither fully politically honest nor impartial nor competent to represent our interests. Our position has become politically unbearable and socioeconomically untenable.  

Clearly the system does not represent our aspirations; the critical question of our times is, ‘What should we do?’ Should we find more progressive candidates to back as a way of altering the country’s direction? Or we simply give up on Zimbabwean mainstream politics and look to build pro-Mthwakazi politics?

The increasing relevance of citizen movements and relentless outpouring of protest against mainstream Zimbabwean politics’ policies towards Mthwakazi has been inspiring, drawing out sizeable numbers of disgruntled young and old Mthwakazi citizens and creating a situation in which the possibilities for the long-awaited solidarity among victims of the system have become more tangible.

People are increasingly accepting of the notion that the emancipation of Mthwakazi must be the act of the Mthwakazi society. The ZANU PF/ MDC brotherhood comfortably perched above or outside of us cannot do it for us. After all, they are the authors, benefactors and beneficiaries of the system.

We need to quickly review our political direction, stop obsessing with the removal of ZANU PF and concentrate our energies on investigating effective ways that will make Zimbabwe’s mainstream parties’ agenda in Mthwakazi redundant; our movements need to build political capital and improve the political capacity of existing pro-Mthwakazi organisations so they can be effective political vehicles that truly represent Mthwakazi interests.

Our focus has to be turning people’s minds away from the present myth that the removal of ZANU PF from power is also a solution to Mthwakazi’s political challenges, and that only the MDC can remove ZANU PF from office. People have been conditioned to embrace the idea that any organisation or independent candidate vying for election is a ‘spoiler’ that diverts support from the MDC Alliance and risks causing ZANU PF to be elected.

While there is some truth in that the MDC Alliance stands a better chance of defeating ZANU PF in a free and fair election and thus gaining power to govern, will an MDC Alliance victory mean a change in the fundamentals of the political system too or it will just be a refurbishment of a faulty superstructure?

We argue that it is an illusion to think that MDC Alliance winning office and having control of the levers of state power will change anything under the current socio-political system. This system is a majoritarian tyranny that oversees the oppression of minority tribes by the larger ethnic Shona tribe, and the MDC Alliance is well aware of lines not to be crossed if it is to stay in power.

Judging by the attitude of the MDC Alliance national leadership’s approach in its dealings with Mthwakazi local issues, there is no desire to change a system that has saved an ethnic Shona leadership well. The MDC Alliance has never truly confronted tribalism, but it has maintained it.

Our primary concern is to dispel the perception of pro-Mthwakazi organisations and movements as ‘spoilers’ taking away MDC Alliance voters; we are not a threat to the MDC Alliance which represents Harare interests in Bulawayo, all we want is representation of Mthwakazi interests – in that respect, the only threat to the MDC Alliance is ZANU PF which broadly shares identical objectives.

All we want is to build pro-Mthwakazi politics as a political vehicle that truly represents local interests in parliament. People need to understand that if you are willing to compromise and accommodate the MDC in order to gain the ballot line, then you are not building something truly Mthwakazi.

Until the law is applied equally and justice is blind to tribe, until education is ignorant to ethnicity, until opportunity is unconcerned with the languages people speak, Zimbabwe’s independence will remain a proclamation devoid of fact, and a stronger Mthwakazi our only hope. 

Being pro-Mthwakazi carries different connotations to different people but at the core of the Mthwakazi national identity are social diversity and inclusivity. We demand for every citizen to rise above narrow confines of tribal concerns to the broader concerns of humanity.

Inclusivity means promoting a true sense of belonging in society and allowing different societies space to grow, to be themselves, and to exercise their diversity. Coexistence and mutual respect allow communities to give and receive from each other such great gifts as ideas, openness and dignity from being accepted for who they are.

Fundamental as pro-Mthwakazi organisations and pro-Mthwakazi electoral politics is, we must appreciate the importance of a patient approach and need for huge human and financial investment into the project.

We are not blind to the mechanisation of Zimbabwean mainstream politics; it erects many barriers to innovation and newcomers, and therefore as the pro-Mthwakazi grows and takes new shape, we need to find ways to navigate any barriers set up by an unapologetic dictatorship.  

To conclude, we put it across to the Mthwakazi citizenry that visible presence matters and that as a matter of principle, they need to vote pro-Mthwakazi parties and candidates to preserve their independence and show their revolutionary attitude and political standpoint. We must counter the seductive argument that voting ‘smaller parties’ splits the MDC Alliance’s vote, making it possible for ZANU PF to win.  

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