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Minority political parties hold key in Mthwakazi

Self-doubt is the prisoner of dreams; the pro-Mthwakazi political vision is stuttering because those bereft of creativity and those captive to doubt dominate the socio-political space. We have local citizens who, out of their own fears and limitations, are quick to ridicule and pour scorn on every pro-Mthwakazi idea.

Dismissing pro-Mthwakazi parties as being too small to influence political change in Zimbabwe and arguing that voting for them is a waste of votes is a treasonous lack of ambition from people who have become both accustomed to and comfortable with political servitude. Such thinking is a by-product of a poisoned mentality, itself a by-product of self-doubt that blinds people to their potentiality.

Zimbabwe’s two-party system maintains a political safety zone for MDC Alliance/ ZANU PF tribalism that has imprisoned Mthwakazi’s vision and creativity. The MDC Alliance/ ZANU PF axis does not represent us in parliament but its political ambitions which are themselves counter to ours. For Mthwakazi’s political progress, the formation of parties detached from the mainstream political system and parties that challenge the legitimacy of the system should be welcomed locally and not ridiculed.

Withholding support from and rejecting an organisation simply on its size and ignoring the reason for its being belies reason. Judging without understanding is preventing our people from creating space to acquire new knowledge and delays their freedom from the tyrannical system. No organisation started big, parties grow from community support.

To be good judges of pro-Mthwakazi organisations people should at least make an effort to understand their foundations. We have a problem of a learned elite population that lacks education. If we do not understand that it is the gaps in Zimbabwean political system that are the reason for the emergence of these small organisations which are rightly trying to enforce the plugging of those gaps, we have a problem with our political acuity.

While there is some truth in the argument that in principle political organisations exist and participate in elections to win and take control of the levers of government power, there is truth too in that not all parties have their primary focus set on office-seeking and/ or holding power. We need to recognise too that even those parties that do not win elections play an important role in the local and national politics. In particular they play the role of government overseers who critic and monitor the State to curtail possible excesses and to call for accountability.

Whether people see it (opting not to be preoccupied with office) as a defeatist stance or calculated intervention that is another matter, but pro-Mthwakazi parties are clear that they are not seeking to govern Zimbabwe but aim to represent Mthwakazi interests.

That to date these parties have failed to win seats in Matabeleland is a reflection not only of them but of the entire Mthwakazi public’s lack of ambition. Taking a principled standpoint and voting for organisations that represent our interests instead of voting for whichever stand a chance of winning an election is perhaps our best hope for change.

Zimbabwean mainstream politics has never been good at representing the interests of Mthwakazi. The major parties place their priorities on office-seeking and holding power in a system founded on tribalism and Shona supremacy. As they have focused their investment priorities on gaining power, a political disconnect between them and the Mthwakazi public has developed.

We are agreed that the mainstream parties abuse our genuine political needs for electioneering. For instance, the MDC Alliance tends to acknowledge and articulate its dismay over the Gukurahundi atrocities towards elections only to be quiet about it soon after.

While mainstream politics has sort to bypasses Mthwakazi interests and minimise or evade or even suppress our priorities in its pursuit of what it calls ‘national’ issues, MRP and like-minded parties have been increasingly forcing it to refocus on issues that are local and important to us, e.g. devolution of power – local jobs for local people, prioritising locals for recruitment to local institutions for higher learning and calls for fair application of the law as well as the redistribution of resources.

Reality tells us that what are national issues – according to mainstream politics – are in practice Mashonaland dictates as the idea of national in Zimbabwe is inseparable from Mashonaland norms and values.   

As argued earlier, the pro-Mthwakazi political parties are not oblivious to the reality that they have no chance of governing Zimbabwe, but their sole objective is to sell a package that is exclusively Mthwakazi, and participate in elections to provide representation to those Mthwakazi citizens who feel left out by mainstream parties and would want to maintain a principled standpoint and vote for parties that truly stand for their interests.

The problem is not the size of pro-Mthwakazi organisations but a hypocritical public quick to judge without facts. If you understand Zimbabwean politics and its impact in Matabeleland, you will appreciate the purpose of pro-Mthwakazi organisations. We must understand that pro-Mthwakazi parties seek not to hold office in Zimbabwe but exist to compete with the major parties to seek not only to provide the Mthwakazi voter with alternatives at election time, but to influence the behaviour of the established mainstream parties; force a re-consideration of the social and normative boundaries in the country’s political system, redefine and expand the ideological spectrum of the political culture through the provision of a new and different set of political behaviours.


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