Systematically stripped of its identity, dignity and power and pushed further away from its normal self, Mthwakazi has become unrecognisable from the nation that it could be. However, not all is lost, let us draw relief in knowing that we have the tools to reclaim our national pride. We appreciate that will not happen by building a monument of good excuses but good leadership.
Rebuilding Mthwakazi will require more than the best of excuses we can find. The revival of the nation will not be accomplished through the rationalisation of our circumstances that only allows us the comfort to avoid perceiving reality and attempting to make reality fit our emotions. We need to confront the truth.
A total mental reorientation is required; Joshua Nkomo is not the reason we are where we are today but the ZANU PF betrayal of the liberation struggle and a lack of vision by pro-Mthwakazi leaders. Reflective leaders are what Mthwakazi needs to move forward. There is still enough room to remedy the situation; instead of complaining about decisions made by the last generation in a different context, we can start the process of recreating Mthwakazi by preparing the next generation.
First, let us revisit our expectations, bring them in line with the reality of today’s challenges and opportunities and strategically align our national vision with the future we want.
Experience teaches us that life is easier when we keep our expectations low but this must not be confused with the cowardly lowering of standards; I believe satisfaction is pretty much a function of our expectations, so keeping our standards high and expectations realistic will be key in finding suitable political solutions.
Keeping expectations realistic is fundamental to planning, building and maintaining public support. Building and preserving a support base is difficult enough but when expectations are too high and unformed, we run an even higher risk of running empty promises and leaving the public disillusioned.
If there is a lesson to be taken from the avoidable death of George Floyd, a 46-year-old black man brutally killed by a white police officer in Minneapolis, Minnesota on 25 May 2020 during an arrest for allegedly using a counterfeit bill, it is that no human is perfect, the USA is imperfect and we should stop looking at it or any other country for that matter as some moral barometer against which we measure ourselves; let us set our standards in line with our norms and values and where we want to be in the future.
All we can do is to be realistic to ourselves and those around us; expect no perfection from ourselves or others; never allow our imperfect selves to drown in the expectation of others, let no one’s expectations dim our light and direct the course of our politics. We need to stand tall in what we expect of ourselves, change course only when our needs call for adjustment, not when others demand we change.
The growing public disdain for Zimbabwe’s mainstream parties and their politicians is not a new phenomenon in Matebeleland, the Matebeleland public has raised concerns about the growing void between itself and Harare authorities since the early 1980s.
We object to centralised systems and believe the way forward is localism; a transfer of power, authority and resources from central government to local government and other local public agencies, who in turn devolve to and empower communities, a system some have aptly called ‘double devolution’.
History has shown time and again that while there has been a role for a centrally-driven focus on development and improvement, efficient and effective local service provision requires much greater local involvement. Localism gives more autonomy to locals to design and effect changes at the local level and also to review the drivers of local reforms.
There are three hypotheses to consider as we build local interest in local politics:
Political Trust Hypothesis: The lower the political trust of voters, the more likely they are to vote for an independent local party.
Local Autonomy Hypothesis: The more voters favour local autonomy, the more likely they are to vote for an independent local party.
Identification Hypothesis: The more voters identify with local polities, the more likely they are to vote for an independent local party.
In a climate of limited financial resources, we need to choose our battlefields with care to be an effective force. Literature on independent candidates and local political parties indicates that the smaller constituencies are, the stronger independent or local political parties are and conversely the weaker national political parties are.
Keeping our territory safe for all inhabitants regardless of race, tribe, political allegiance and religious belief is a top priority. Thus, the public demand leadership not chaos and confusion; people want leaders with a vision and good planning skills not well-articulated excuses; no matter how good an excuse is, it will never get us closer to our dreams of building political capacity for self-rule. If pro-Mthwakazi politicians keep looking for sympathy as a justification for their actions and lack of vision, they will someday be left standing alone at a time when they need public help the most.