Those who follow the politics in Mthwakazi would share our concerns of a lack of Mthwakazi public enthusiasm in engaging in pro-Mthwakazi politics. The contemporary problem seems to be that large sections of the population want freedom but without getting their hands dirty with the politics that confronts the policies depriving them of that freedom.
Outcomes from recent elections give a grime view; Mthwakazi citizen’s affiliation with organisations that purport to represent their interests remains low – numbers of people voting pro-Mthwakazi organisations are disappointingly low.
We need to try and understand why that is the case, but where do we even start? At present there appears to be no logic to it; we cannot tie the problem to a particular age-group because it is all ages and all sexes sitting back. The biggest concern though is that some of our ‘educated’ young men/ women are not just sitting back but pushing back, and openly rejecting the pro-Mthwakazi ideology as ‘divisive’ and tribalist as though the MDC Alliance/ ZANU PF represented system is unifying and inclusive.
It is no surprise that these ‘educated’ young men and women are also beneficiaries of the system and are directly targeted by both the MDC Alliance and ZANU PF to oversee their agenda in Matabeleland. Sadly, these are the people we elect to represent us, but how can they save both their master and us.
We have to be politically astute to isolate and comb out these individuals and groups from our political space. There may not be apathy but there is certainly a sense of disillusionment with the current political system; to express their disillusionment, urban voters are going with the MDC Alliance but ZANU PF continues to enjoy its popularity in rural areas. Strangely, there is a general perception too in Matabeleland that both ZANU PF and the MDC Alliance are failing to represent local interests.
Does the problem lie with how the product is unpacked or the current political system? Is effective canvassing possible in an intolerant socio-political space influenced by the political machine overseen by ZANU PF? Does the indiscriminate targeting of ethnic Shona people resonate with the public? Should the pro-Mthwakazi politics invest in ideas that develop Mthwakazi than expressing its hatred of ethnic Shona people?
Getting volunteers to conduct door-to-door campaigns against ZANU PF ideology and sending a message that is unapologetic in its calls for Mthwakazi political independence drives chills down the spines of many in Matabeleland; people of Matabeleland have not forgotten the 1980s brutality that saw at least 30 000 unarmed civilians murdered for their tribe and political views in that Gukurahundi operation.
While there are brave young men and women who have openly expressed their pro-Mthwakazi views, the numbers on the ground do not stake up to make canvassing as effective as it should be.
ZANU PF is a despotic organisation with little value for morality or human life; the party is known for its propensity for using the stick and the carrot model where necessary. For entire cycle of government, people are left vulnerable, short of basic provisions only to be awarded free food, seed, etc. at election time; there is no fear too of physically assaulting opponents.
Cohesive tactics (covert and overt) on the rural electorate are the norm while a strong hatred of ZANU PF is the driver in urban areas where people would rather vote a party most likely to remove ZANU PF from office than vote for what they believe in. These are probable the biggest factors playing against the pro-Mthwakazi agenda.
There is a strong indication that we have an electorate persistently voting in fear than in hope. The fear of the consequences of not voting ZANU PF in rural areas and the fear of retaining ZANU PF into office in urban areas leave the pro-Mthwakazi secondary to people’s political choices.
Pro-Mthwakazi activists and organisations will need to find innovative ways of breaking down the barrier of fear and connecting people’s undoubted desire for change with the legitimate pro-Mthwakazi political ideological location, and make it clear that politics is not just about a mass compromise but taking a principled standpoint.
A better way of winning people over is none other than marketing one’s political values, strengths and goals and not just smearing opponents. It is argued that people are most likely to join a political party out of their attachment to the party’s values, policies and leaders than its opposition to opponents’ policies. In other words, people are more likely to join parties whose policies they identify with not simply because the party helps them identify a common enemy.