The type of leadership Mthwakazi needs to move forward would be one that brings people together and not one that sets neighbour upon neighbour, and not one that amplifies and demonises difference within communities while ignoring shared interests. We are different but one people; when the safety of a neighbour is compromised yours is not guaranteed.
A forensic examination of our political challenges will indicate that after ZANU PF and the MDC Alliance, tension between pro-Mthwakazi organisations, groups and movements is perhaps the biggest threat to Mthwakazi’s socio-political progress, infrastructure of democracy, peace and freedom.
While tensions between political opponents are expected and can be viewed as a normal feature of politics at specific seasons, when they become normalised behaviour and define a political setting, progress stalls, politics becomes irrelevant and the public suffers from the subsequent chaos. The Mthwakazi local political disputes can be set to rest, but for poor leadership, misplaced pride, arrogance and naivety, the gulf between organisations is widening than narrowing.
Democracy as a system is meant to open the political space for all, promote competition between ideologies though it is not uncommon for adversarial tendencies to emerge; in Zimbabwe, and by extension in Mthwakazi, democracy is defined by two distinct processes: the public electing our representatives, and governing the nation through them. This naturally lends itself into robust campaigns and associated bruising encounters as parties market their ideas to the electorate.
Electing representatives through the campaign process sets our political parties against each other. They tear each other apart, have very little good to say about the other, they are at war. What we often witness is parties acting as if they alone are right while the other side is totally wrong; the truth, as we know, is somewhere in between.
We understand why our parties would act that way but we do not want that behaviour to define our political culture and values. To neutralise the MDC Alliance and ZANU PF in Matabeleland, our parties’ leadership need to learn to compromise, they must learn when to stop the ‘war’ between themselves and work together.
Democracy does not work without compromise. We expect the jostling for control to end at some point. It is therefore a reasonable expectation for the Mthwakazi public to expect their leadership to work collectively to create a safe environment for the nation to choose its own methods to develop its own culture, to reconcile internal differences through peaceful means.
There is a time, particularly after elections when the focus must shift from party interest to national interest; the time for pro-Mthwakazi organisations to defend our interests and stop ZANU PF/ MDC Alliance running amok begins. The pro-Mthwakazi parties must refocus and stop the rigid system of ideological control – ‘indoctrination’ fostered by the two Zimbabwean major parties and exercised through the mass media.
Lest we forget, we the public are the ultimate rulers of the politics playing out in our nation. Individuals should take personal responsibility for knowledge acquisition and fight against the disabling ignorance. People come before politics, we have the responsibility to set the rules that guide politicians’ conduct after election so that our pro-Mthwakazi parties would be required to compromise in order to represent us effectively.
We have a set of expectations of our pro-Mthwakazi politicians; their behaviour must adhere to principles we can proudly identify with. Tolerance is the cornerstone of the culturally diverse Mthwakazi nation, our organisations must accept and respect differences in opinion on what to do and how to do it.
It is political fantasy that makes each organisation believe in its dreams of being the only one that can solve our problems but reality is that no one organisation holds monopoly on wisdom, no one organisation will solve the on-going problems in Mthwakazi; political parties need to adjust to each other to come to some common agreement about what to do and how to do it.
Politicians must come to terms with the fact that Mthwakazi was not created in order to disappear – any ill-advised behaviour that threatens its endurance and socio-political progress will not be tolerated. Pro-Mthwakazi organisations, in particular, have a responsibility to protect our interests in the face of challenges from Harare.
To conclude, we make it clear to all organisations that no political entity holds monopoly on wisdom, people must learn to compromise. While we expect our pro-Mthwakazi organisations to campaign strongly for what they stand for, we do not expect them to stay in perpetual campaign mode. They must learn to work together for the common good of Mthwakazi when the election period is done with. After all, compromising and, better still, finding common ground on issues, demands skills beyond the skills of battle-like campaigns.