Witnessing the impeachment process and the subsequent acquittal of the USA president, it confirmed what I have always thought, “There’s nothing special about US or Western democracy for it to be sold as a model for global use.” I was left with no doubt that the only political template relevant to us will be one whose chapter only we have written and only we understand.
We need to rebuild our political systems and institutions on the back of our traditions, culture, norms and values. For decades, Africa and Africans have mastered the art of self-deprecation; we are good at learning and accommodating everyone else’s systems and ignoring, if not laughing at, our own.
Paying a degree of attention to the world around us is noble, but making what is happening around us the core of our politics is foolishness, for not everything happening in the West, Russia, China, the Middle East, etc. is relevant to us. Let us not try and build institutions that are only responsive and relevant to the western world with little to no relevance to our traditions, norms and values.
As far as politics in Zimbabwe is concerned, there are many things that are out rightly illegal and many that are grey, and by ‘grey’ we mean the things that are illegal but which the government chooses to conveniently ignore, e.g. corruption, institutionalised tribalism, etc. For our safety, Mthwakazi must endeavour to adopt political systems that are close to our norms and values; practices that keep us and our communities safe.
Mthwakazi must stay away from any politics built on Mashonaland values; that politics is for the protection of ethnic Shona people. It may protect Zimbabwean systems worshipping men and women of Mthwakazi and Mthwakazi children sometimes, but it is not for the protection of the ordinary Mthwakazi men and women, never.
Any political decision that requires the suspension of reason as a necessity for support is a bad political decision. Gukurahundi genocide was such a political decision, and since the early 1980s we have lived in fear of our government – effectively, a Mashonaland majority tyranny. We need a departure from this monstrous leadership template; our government, the government we desire, should be afraid of its people.
Being chaperones of Mashonaland authored systems and institutions means an unending life of servitude for Mthwakazi. It is from that perspective that we call for the political system to change to recognise and reflect on our diverse community needs.
Mashonaland and Matabeleland are culturally different, it makes no sense that one tribal grouping will use its population dominance to dominate real political power over the whole of the modern-day Zimbabwe territory.
The beginning of change will be getting rid of the first past the post (FPTP) system, which over the years has been effectively used to sanctify the tyranny of a majority tribe. In terms of outcomes, FPTP has proven to be an unjust system; it has facilitated ZANU PF-only governments even where votes’ distribution only supported either an MDC-T or a ZANU PF-led government.
Given the FPTP system is easy and cheaper to administer but it is not fair to any political party nor to any section of the community. We are witnesses to cases where results from FPTP have not secured majority representation, nor have they secured fair representation of minority population groups.
We want true change that will turn the current ‘democracy’ from one resembling two foxes and a sheep voting on what to have for dinner into one that also embeds the fortification of the pastures for the safety of the sheep, i.e. a process of liberation that allows individuals the right to live in dignity and empowers all communities.
The proportional representation (PR) will be the best way going forward. PR is a system in which the number of parliamentary seats allocated to a political party reflects that party’s share of the popular vote. This is the closest any election can be to fairness and be least wasteful of people’s votes.
In supporting the argument that the PR system plays a significant role in protecting public spending and tackling inequality, Hasan (2015) quotes Soskice and Iversen (2006) who argue thus, “redistribution is the result of electoral systems and the class coalitions they engender”. Using data from research, they found that the electoral system has “a strong and statistically significant effect” on levels of redistribution, and concluded that, “PR systems redistribute more than majoritarian systems”.
Mashonaland and Matabeleland are cousins and can live peacefully together if politicians stop obsessing with power. It has to be understood that the only political system that would be good enough for Matabeleland relevant system is one written by Matabeleland. A centralised government system must go; mere population superiority must never again be allowed to impede other communities’ liberty, security and safety. Let this castle in the sand (current political system) collapse and start building a political fortress that would save all communities from harm’s way.