Ideological differences should not be reason Mthwakazi groups stop working together

Party or nation? We appreciate and believe it is right that our leaders will stand as proud members of their different political movements but at the end of the day they must always bear in mind that they are Mthwakazi leaders working for a diverse population of Mthwakazi; this is a nation with diverse needs and views but shares the common goal for true independence.

Cultures and ideologies have their appropriate place and use within Mthwakazi but none of them erase or replace our universal experiences of suffering under an intolerant ethnic Shona political regime. We are not slave to ideology; ideology must guide and not control us; in that respect, ideological difference alone must never be reason movements would not work together or the safety, security, freedom and liberty of our people is compromised.

The do not rock the boat philosophy is not what Mthwakazi politics requires, instead it calls us to have uncomfortable conversations that will provide the intellectual defences our political choices need. We argue that the polarisation we witness today is borne of ill-advised pride than strategic relevance. We need to explore our strategic relevance and effectiveness, e.g. to participate in elections or not to? To engage in violent interventions (armed struggle) or invest more in nonviolent methods (protests, etc.)?

Uncomfortable as it may sound, let us face up to the fact that to date we have failed to make substantive political progress. It may be the dream but we are not yet posing any real threat to the overall political control of Zimbabwe’s mainstream parties of our space because we are disorganised, lack a positive strategy and are busy fighting among ourselves. If resolving this ZANU PF/ MDC command of our political space is our goal, we need to adopt a different approach.   

Do we continue working as fragmented groups, each for its own ends or we try and find ways of working together for the nation? Reality on the ground dictates that compromise is worthy of consideration, but only if it is part of a solution. Far from being an ideology of consent or a sign of weakness, the ability to compromise must be seen as a deliberate and objective act of engaging with others, taking into account and respecting their legitimate interests.

Copyright: © Frits Ahlefeldt The bridge metaphor

In the Mthwakazi circumstances, the political polarisation serves little benefit to any one group and absolutely nothing to the wider population. There is real risk continued polarisation might kill public motivation, universal goodwill and mutual understanding of the pro-Mthwakazi agenda. To compound Mthwakazi’s problems, as groups drift away, the ZANU PF/ MDC toxic politics magma will well up to fill up the cracks and solidify ensuring the different Mthwakazi groups maintain their distancing; the major beneficiary of such ‘safe distancing’ will be Zimbabwe’s majoritarian politics and the losers will be the innocent Mthwakazi public.

Groups that continue to obsess with the protection of their pride over national interests risk losing their relevance, if not existence altogether in the Mthwakazi political space. The public is roaring at political groups because it needs them to change. This change entails transformation of the political space, a total shift from one form to another and that involves the gift of innovation.

A disturbing phenomena is the lack of enthusiasm to collaborate and a readiness for pro-Mthwakazi groups to bash each other or unjustifiably attack some Mthwakazi individuals at the earliest opportunity. The entrenched polarisation restricts growth and hinders meaningful change.

Copyright: © Ed Fischer via CartoonStock

Immersed in paranoia and the delusion of self-importance political groups have habitually ignored the importance of public opinion and keep doing the same things hoping for different results; they have not reviewed their internal structures and goals for time and political relevance.

Lack of evaluation of the project means absence of objective measurement of the effectiveness of current tactics. The result is that we are stuck in an oversimplified polarised conflict and an ineffective politics of convenience that is always attempting to catch up with both time and its adversaries. We risk becoming no more than protest groups whose focus is only responding or reacting to ZANU PF/ MDC ideas than creating their own thing.

Furthermore, tribalism within Mthwakazi must be fought; it cannot be pushed under the carpet because it is causing politically damaging anxiety and distrust among minority groups. We must realise with all of the fervency of our heart and mind that every individual in our territory is sacred and honourable.

Communities who feel left out of the broader pro-Mthwakazi process have adopted silence as a way of attempting to reduce attacks on themselves; they have stopped engaging in Mthwakazi politics altogether or at least stopped raising their genuine concerns about objectionable actions of some pro-Mthwakazi groups. Such a response has damaging effects to internal politics. Our space must be a vibrant political field where people freely argue about ideas and politics.

A belief in human equality in diversity must be a foundational part of Mthwakazi’s social and political culture. This is not achievable under ZANU PF and/ or MDC regime. The goal is making these mainstream parties obsolete in Mthwakazi; it is a mammoth task, one beyond a single political group but we can achieve that by working as a unit on pertinent issues and winning over public support. People may be interested in the pro-Mthwakazi agenda but the intractable conflict between local groups leave a public used to being betrayed by politicians with more questions than answers of the intentions of pro-Mthwakazi groups.

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