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Political plurality not Mthwakazi’s problem, how parties operate is

Diversity of political views in Mthwakazi comes as no surprise, we are a tolerant, culturally diverse, multinational state. What is surprising rather is the extent to which individuals and groups (political and civic) holding different views have, for years now, been willing to surrender their responsibilities and allow for that diversity to maintain Mthwakazi’s political prisoner status in Zimbabwe.

We recognise that Mthwakazi will do better when we all work together. Each community is important and our differences do matter, but our common humanity matters more. For clarity purposes, the article is targeted at a pro-Mthwakazi audience, and ZANU PF and all formations of the MDC are not categorised as Mthwakazi organisations in both design and intent.

The biggest challenge is that many of our organisations in Mthwakazi, at this point in our history, have told themselves some comforting lies about freedom and political reform, and established a mythology of a superiority of their views and convinced themselves that only their ideologies will and must direct the politics in the state.

Nothing could be further from the truth. The political reality is that we ignore the importance of compromise to our peril. If we continue fighting among ourselves for political party glory, we will die together in disgrace as political prisoners.

While it is proper to be always looking and hoping for better, let us not allow the best to be the enemy of the good thus, we must accept we may sometimes have to settle for the saviours we have got. Any pro-Mthwakazi group should be viewed as a potential saviour. In this case our objective should be openness to ideas other than ours and being willing to work with others.

Every pro-Mthwakazi organisation or movement should be looking at itself and thinking, ‘How can I be of better use to the other pro-Mthwakazi groups?’ and not ‘What can these groups do for me?’

Our true and collective freedom is more important than party interests and pride; people must put national interest before party interest. The existence of multiple political parties in our political space should be the least of our problems; instead, let all in Mthwakazi explore ways in which these parties can be put to better use.

With the above in mind, we emphasise the importance of political parties in maintaining a healthy democracy. Far from restricting political party numbers, we call for increased civic organisation involvement in the strengthening of state institutions to ensure political parties adhere to the laws of the land and the public is protected from unscrupulous political activity and activists.   

It is incumbent upon all citizens to explore how civic society and/ or political parties can increase power and stretch resources in their fight for Mthwakazi emancipation.

The reality is that no organisation has all the solutions to Mthwakazi’s problems, and action will have to take the form of any of the following: coalition or an alliance or a network or a combination thereof if we are to benefit from all the talent in Mthwakazi.

Coalition, in politics and international relations, is defined as a goal-oriented political cooperation in which actors coordinate their behaviour in a specified timescale to achieve a common goal.

An alliance on the other hand is a robust partnership of at least medium-term duration. It is an arrangement of collective entities that predate the formation of the alliance. The relations may be bilateral or multilateral, but in all cases the parties to the pact come together as collectives. An alliance is best understood as an association of associations and not the individuals who populate it.

Another feature of an alliance is that the units forming it can be disaggregated at a future date, i.e. the parts must be divisible; from the onset, it is clearly understood that the decision to come together is voluntary and can be undone. The alliance may be for a set timescale or the duration maybe indefinite.

The third feature of working together is a network. While a coalition and an alliance are formal, a network represents a more informal but potentially broader grouping; in its nature, it is a more ad hoc cooperation but covers a broader area of interest.

What is significant in coalitions, alliances, and networks is that the parties involved each retain their distinctive identity and interests, but the purpose of collaboration across all three is ultimately the same – to aggregate participants’ strengths to achieve some shared goal that none could achieve individually.

It is crucial that we respect the right of all organisations and movements to exist in the Mthwakazi political space. However, it is equally essential that our different organisations realise that none can, by itself, achieve the political independence Mthwakazi deserves. Political organisations, movements, civic society will have to find ways of working together to the good of all.


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