Analysis of its political past helps a nation put its unconscious political actions into words and into context it can be better understood. No patriotic Mthwakazian objects to the scrutiny of Joshua Nkomo’s leadership, but it is the narrative that raises eyebrows. Rather than analyse Nkomo and make judgement of him, we want to understand him within the rightful context and accept him for who he was and inform our political action going forward.
There is no public interest in religiously standing by Nkomo, that will not only be unpatriotic, but a betrayal of the basic principle of patriotism; we are unapologetically patriotic to our country, and leaders only when they are doing right by the country. Hence we believe to critique Nkomo’s leadership is right and proper.
While we are open to scrutiny of our leaders, we have a duty to ensure that criticism is fair; we must question the motive of the equivalent to crucifixion of Nkomo by some pro-Mthwakazi individuals seeing the questions, allegations and judgement are of decisions/ actions taken more than 40 years ago, and he has been gone from this earth for at least 20 years.
It is not objectionable to tell the truth but most of the truth we read in the latest article whose narrative slaughters Nkomo is, as expected, subjective truth and a biased reconstruction of his past. Our interest in this critique lies not only on its content but how and when it was written. We want to know its context for us to better understand it and see how it is usable in our pursuit for a better Mthwakazi.
There needs to be acknowledgement that Nkomo’s past contains both his greatness and weaknesses which are in part revealed in his leadership of ZAPU yet the study of his leadership of ZAPU will not fully capture his past and inspiration. We must not forget too that those reflecting on his leadership have human limitations and are not free of bias.
No doubt, the critique and criticism maybe justified but can we say the same of the time? When did these critics learn of these truths and why is 2020 the right time to tell it? Has there been any political shift that necessitates the disclosure? And why wait for a man to depart the physical world to make allegations against them when you well know they can no longer defend themselves?
A fundamental political transition that pro-Mthwakazi groups must make is to resist playing the ‘Blame Game’. The day they realise that they are in charge of plans and planning how best to approach today’s political problems, that things will turn out better or worse because of them and not Joshua Nkomo, that would be the day they would build local systems and institutions that tackle challenges brought about by the ZANU PF regime and that would be the day Mthwakazi will make strides towards freedom.
Nobody is exempt from reproach. It is right and proper that Nkomo’s leadership and its contribution to the political situation in Matabeleland is critiqued but the pervasive tirade of abuse towards the late leader who had a clear vision that he passionately pursued but was human too and made mistakes along the way is reprehensible and unlikely to gain the author(s) of the article and it’s distributors political traction in Mthwakazi.
To attempt to brand and shame Nkomo as a sell-out directly guilty of the Gukurahundi genocide is morally treasonable to Mthwakazi public. Such despicable conduct rings echoes of totalitarian propaganda which seeks to direct the ire of the Mthwakazi populace at one man deemed ‘unworthy’. Playing the blame game will take us somewhere but will get us nowhere.
Just as one should not blame their shadow for the shape of their body, pro-Mthwakazi groups need not blame Nkomo for their failures, they must take full responsibility for their present experience. Bigotry can impact relevance; the next time organisations want to blame Nkomo for their lack of vision, they must first take a look in the mirror.
We can blame our political difficulties on Nkomo all we want, but like an animal sitting in the mud, each time we blame shift, we sink a little deeper until we get stuck. When we get stuck, our fate is sealed; change and improvement will not come from blaming others; we must start creating our own story.
To enjoy the Nkomo leadership critique is one thing but to take it for the whole truth is another. Nkomo’s past is not made up of only errors but also a visionary, good political ideological stand, principle and judgement. Like it or not, Nkomo was and remains a political icon of the nation.
Promoting open society, upholding individual rights, liberties and responsibilities is Mthwakazi’s goal. We encourage scrutiny of public figures. But a selective narrative of Nkomo’s past does nobody any favours, and to insult and make false allegations is an abuse of rights entrusted. It smacks of political desperation. Nkomo’s decisions need to be understood from their context; they must be understood as concessions to the hardness of the evil Mugabe and the unfavourable geopolitical situation of the time rather than as expressions of his (Nkomo’s) political convictions. Let us chart our path and stop looking back and blaming others for our lack of vision.