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Learn how Zimbabwean politics and institutions shape poverty in Mthwakazi

Until you have insight of features of slavery, you cannot fight it; until you are able to define your freedom in your own words and freely live your life within that definition, you are not free. For Mthwakazi people to set themselves free, they need to have an understanding that within the borders of Zimbabwe they are not free and equally important, they need insight of the visible and invisible chains restricting their freedom.

The ZANU PF-led government with its blatant tribalism and operationalised attitude of ‘what’s in it for me?’ in its dealings with Mthwakazi issues has left the region reeling in poverty.  

Meanwhile the well drilled purveyors of disinformation within the state media continue to oversee the limited notion of negative attitudes to education in the region to explain poverty and economic inequalities that see Mthwakazi disproportionately affected. People have been falsely made to believe all of our problems are a result of poor formal education uptake and poor academic achievement in the region.

Unsurprisingly some of our educated elite have bought into the theory of socio-cultural factors causing the alleged poor attitudes to academic education and the poor academic attainment con, internalised it and tolerated it. This theory does not start to account for the poor mobilisation of financial and material resources from central government to the region.

An idea has been drummed into us and we have been misled to directly link our poverty and economic performance, nothing more. We are made to understand that income distribution is all down to economic performance, and the fact we lack education and vital skills required by the industry means we are hired in less paying roles thus as ethnic Ndebeles and/ or Mthwakazi citizens are paid less on average.

Formal education or none, the reality has not escaped us, we are closer to the impact of the decisions of this evil system. We are under no illusion of the significance of power and institutions in mapping the distribution of resources in society.

We want the Harare administration to understand that we are not fools they take us for and we have moved away from the distorted view that our poverty is shaped by economic performance and will therefore disproportionately affect certain demographic groups than others to take a keen interest in how our on-going poverty is shaped and maintained by a combination of Zimbabwe’s power resources and institutions.

Like many disadvantaged communities around the world, the cause of our poverty is multifactorial. We strongly believe Mthwakazi’s poverty is a by-product of the ZANU PF government’s calculated Matabeleland disenfranchisement programme, but so far we have only relied on anecdotal evidence to prove our point.

We need to create capacity within our organisation to research how formal rules and regulations act against Mthwakazi’s political and economic resource mobilisation. This is a fundamental area that has to be addressed if we are to make real strides towards true freedom.

Bringing in social science researchers into the fold will be an essential move. We want to investigate how the elite use their access to power to mobilise state and economic power resources to empower themselves while denying the poor public access to basics.

Through the 40 years of uninterrupted and unrestricted access to power, the Zimbabwean state has effectively diverted power and economic resources to their areas of interest and away from the public. It is therefore paramount that we focus on the workings of power in the reproduction of norms, values and structures that produce or mitigate inequality. We ask how understanding the least visible kinds of power can help us to tackle the damaging aspects of inequality, be it injustice, misrecognition, poverty or disenfranchisement.

We have grown to understand that the default distribution of political power in Zimbabwe favours people of ethnic Shona background and the elites. This default distribution leads to a default unequal distribution of income that sees Mthwakazi deprived.

Under the ZANU PF-led government, inclusive economic institutions are a taboo, instead Zimbabwe operates under extractive institutions, which are characterised by weak laws, corruption, disorder, insecurity, a chaotic economic space and do not create property rights and tend to restrict instead of opening access to the economic market to certain population groups.

What is worth understanding is that these extractive institutions are intentional, and did not develop by mistake. The poor and Mthwakazi citizens are deliberately restricted access. The extractive institutions were designed and are maintained by the elite and the politically powerful to extract resources from the broader society for the benefit of the few. Unsurprisingly, securing and sustaining these institutions are extractive political institutions that concentrate power and opportunity in the hands of an elite within ZANU PF.

Identifying the right targets is essential in a war. To realise our true freedom we need to invest in a quality study that would objectively show the public how power and institutions are linked to our poverty. And when people can visualise that link, they will be ready to work with us to chart a new and better way forward. It is incumbent upon pro-Mthwakazi groups to mobilise the less advantaged citizens as it is essential for the working class and others to bond together and attract some of the middle class to gain any real political power. 


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