Consensus way forward for pro-Mthwakazi politics

A fact of Mthwakazi life in the independent Zimbabwe is that tribalism affects every aspect of our lives; it is largely an unpleasant experience, and the analysis of the world that it makes possible – the ‘politics’ – is so important to us that pro-Mthwakazi politicians have become the princes and princesses of our society. However, although all pro-Mthwakazi politicians agree that for the good of the nation, the status quo must be broken, oddly there is absolutely no consensus among them about what the right strategy would be.

We believe all the pro-Mthwakazi political environment needs right now is a reminder that diverse as the nation is culturally, there has always existed a Mthwakazi consensus on all common needs and desires but our biggest differences lie in how our goals can be achieved. Furthermore, we need to understand that change is inevitable but effective change is almost impossible without politics-wide collaboration, cooperation and consensus.

Fig. 1 This website lays no claim to the copyrights of the cartoon. We will achieve more by working together

Fact be told, the dwarfism acquired by many a pro-Mthwakazi socio-political programme today can be easily traced back to a selfish motive. Selfishness is a trait we identify with and hate in ZANU PF and the MDC but justify in ourselves. Pro-Mthwakazi movements and groups are busy fighting between themselves not out of love of the freedom of the ordinary men and women of the land but a strong desire to protect party interests or status over and above national interests.

Until people of Mthwakazi are prepared to put aside individual party pride for the sake of collective national progress, we will remain in the margins of the socioeconomic and political life in Zimbabwe. The lived reality is that political differences of pro-Mthwakazi movements, no matter how sharply they are debated, are very narrow in comparison to the remarkably durable national consensus on the founding convictions of our forefathers. With that in mind, different groups and movements need to start working on honest ways of working on a consensus framework.

Consensus is viewed differently by different politicians but it must never be confused with sloppy compromise, abandonment of all beliefs, principles, norms and values and policies; it is certainly not just about agreement but about changing things around and creatively getting everyone on board on an equal basis to explore and scrutinise an idea. You get a proposal/ issue, work something out, people foresee problems, and you do creative synthesis and then make a decision. At the end of it, as a group you come up with something that everyone thinks is acceptable, i.e. most people like it, and nobody hates it.

Fig. 2 Copyright for diagram, Seeds For Change

Note that no single movement has all solutions to our problems. Different groups and movements specialise in different areas of the struggle. A good political design will begin with honesty, ask tough questions, it will come from collaboration and from us trusting our ability to change our circumstances. Collaboration will be a step forward as it will combine expertise (Fig. 1) between different movements and use that to achieve more.

All movements and organisations need to understand that cooperation is essential and possible if differences and disagreements are not perceived as a block to working together. It has to be understood within our political environment that policy development is a product of agreement on procedures and broad policy goals with contained disagreements about methods and means.

To begin with, let us set out formal structures within which we will engage each other to draw formulae that guides our work. We believe it would be essential that groups adopt a consensus decision making model. This is a process in which everyone in a group is committed to finding a solution that all will agree with or is willing to live with. With consensus no vote is taken, instead the group discuss an issue until a general agreement is reached.

Consensus is arguably effective in virtually all cases and settings. Although there may be differences in the execution of the model depending on the size of the group, time factor, etc., the foundational principles are largely retained.

We appreciate consensus may not be a suitable proposition all the time but it would certainly be the best model at the start of the cooperation between Mthwakazi groups. It will particularly be essential in the identification of common ideas, interest and prioritisation of interventions hence the formulation of a shared strategy upon which our fight will be based and specialist units created to deal with specific issues.

READ MORE: Consensus Decision Making

Consensus ensures that all opinions, ideas and concerns are taken into account. The main objective in a consensus setting is draw proposals that work for everyone. Primarily, it seeks to weave together everyone’s best ideas and key concerns leading to creative solutions that inspire both the individual and the group as whole.

Decisions must, in the majority, be arrived at by design not accident for us to be in control of our political development and growth; we must be able to trace back our decisions to objectively measure their impact to our lives today and have a good idea of the shape of our future by studying todays’ actions. Figure 3 provides a useful template for consensus decision making that our movements and groups may adopt and adapt to our needs. 

Fig. 3 Copyright: Seeds For Change Following a methodical work pattern will be essential in the political development of Mthwakazi

Creating a better Mthwakazi requires selflessness, teamwork, partnerships, and collaboration, and more importantly active public involvement. We need to appreciate one group alone will not take us far, but when groups combine, they stand a greater chance to achieve more. This means different actors need to embrace the benefits of a consensus. Collaboration will be a key part of the success of any Mthwakazi political manoeuvre, and a consensus decision making formula provides that platform in which discussions are conducted and executed through a clearly defined vision and mission and based on transparency and constant communication.


a progressive politics and policy researcher and author with an interest in Mthwakazi (Matabeleland) human rights, liberties, safety and security.

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