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How we distribute political power will shape our future

If Zimbabwe is to achieve and sustain a peaceable existence, it must acknowledge the fact the current political system does not address the realities of uneven political distribution between the two traditional states making up the country. We need to acknowledge that a radical redistribution of economic and political power and a radical restructuring of the architecture of society is necessary.

The most damaging effect of the Zimbabwean system in Mthwakazi has been its destabilising ability to turn people against each other; the more we have been thrown into conflict with each other through engineered distrust, the less able we have been to unite against those responsible.

Socioeconomic and political structure is a design problem. Our dependence on foreign aid is a design problem. To a great extent, poverty in Zimbabwe is a design problem. To solve these problems, we need design thinkers; unfortunately, most of those people who have occupied positions of political power since independence have not been design thinkers, and that is to put it mildly.

April 1980 marked the end of colonialism and the beginning of formalised tribalism; it was the start of the betrayal of the trust and dignity of ordinary men and women by government. Political power was turned into a conduit through which wealth was illegitimately withdrawn from individuals, families and communities and concentrated on political leaders.

The current political scenario that sees concentration of political power away from the people gives rise to legislation that increases and accelerates the cycle of public exploitation. People have no power over how they are governed; the public vote but the credibility of Zimbabwe’s elections is chequered.

Zimbabwe’s mainstream political parties use ethnic Shona population dominance as a shield for their inept political design. Questioning the effect of centralised governance is roundly condemned as a desire to ‘break up the country’; a call for decentralisation is seen as a threat to the 1987 Unity Accord and a threat to political stability.  

The reality however, is that the main objective toward which all mainstream political parties’ deceit is directed is to capture political power so that, using the power of the state, they may keep the common man and woman in eternal subjection. The subjugation is more evident in Mthwakazi; however, the ordinary man/ woman in Mashonaland is not spared although often made to feel valuable by the mere fact those in power speak the same language and share the same culture.

It is from reflecting on the current political system that we can clearly understand and deconstruct the source of political disunity in Matabeleland; local communities are in conflict with each other yet they are equally oppressed. The developing internal wedge is such that membership to a pro-Mthwakazi local party is disingenuously perceived as tribalism while membership to mainstream parties supposedly illustrates socio-political maturity and unity despite not serving local needs.

Political power redistribution is necessary for real change to take place; the people, and not wealth, must be the source of political power and building political power must never be the preserve of Zimbabwe’s mainstream political parties but it has to come from both the outside and from within. As Mthwakazi, we have the right to build political alternatives to the existing system, and we want to transform what is happening in the existing system.

Pro-Mthwakazi movements have often veered towards devolution of power, decentralisation, federalism, if not the outright secession or restoration of the Mthwakazi state separate from Mashonaland.  

Far from being an epitome of tribalism, pro-Mthwakazi individuals and organisations are legitimate local interest groups that present a genuine political argument; their major problem to mainstream politics of Zimbabwe is that they are a menace to conformity and threaten political dictatorship.

ZANU PF and the MDC-A are benefactors of weak local leaders who tend to be exclusively leeches with a proclivity to please their bosses in Harare and betray the very communities they are meant to represent. On the other hand, pro-Mthwakazi groups have no qualms what their enemies or opponents say about them or their political style, but concentrate on what the intrinsic benefit of their ethical and political action bring toward the common good of our nation.

The major borne of contention pro-Mthwakazi movements have with Zimbabwe’s mainstream politics is the assignation of the vice President role to Matabeleland and the assumption that a President has to be from Mashonaland.

It is not lost to Mthwakazi politicians that the vice President in Zimbabwe is very much a figurehead who wields no real power whatsoever. This is a Presidential appointee, the qualities he or she is required to display are not those of leadership but allegiance, if not pure subservience to the President. For this reason the Vice President is always a questionable choice, always infuriating powerless character with precious little to offer. It would appear his or her job is not to wield power but to draw Matabeleland attention away from it. 

Concentrated political power makes Zimbabwe a dangerous environment for Matabeleland and non-Shona population groups. We know political power corrupts and no one is too wise to fall over. The executive Presidency has proven to be a downfall for Zimbabwe. We must stop placing undue trust on individuals, and through legal means we need to routinely protect our leaders from the damaging effects political power.


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