Dysfunctional politics is a threat to the development and growth of the pro-Mthwakazi political agenda. We have a mountain to climb if we are to take effective control of our political space; there is evident dysfunction, toxicity and persistent internecine feuds within the Mthwakazi political scene. The internal political atmosphere is tense, tribal allegiance is clear for all to see as is ethnic allegiance, racial allegiance among other forms of allegiance; these are stopping us from being an effective force within an integrated political environment.
For years it has become apparent that Mthwakazi suffers from a shortage of usable power; while the number of people disenfranchised and disaffected by Zimbabwean politics in Matabeleland and the Midlands continues to rise, the number of people actively participating in the pro-Mthwakazi politics remains too low to effect and/ or sustain real change.
Groups and individuals know Zimbabwe’s politics is designed to manage not empower Mthwakazi; we quite clearly have the numbers for a powerful pro-Mthwakazi politics but we are failing to transform those figures to change the political and economic direction of Mthwakazi.
We need to scrutinise the causes of that power deficit when the negative impact of ZANU PF politics is evident and felt by all. The polarised political environment sees pro-Mthwakazi groups involved in catfights. Attacks and blame shifting on such local big characters as Joshua Nkomo are increasingly being normalised for no observable political gains yet what is apparent is the strife such half-baked philosophies cause internally.
Understanding the political terrain will help us fight dysfunctional politics. As pointed above, our internal political space is polarised, we have on one side Mthwakazi citizens who believe in the unified state of Zimbabwe and believe Mthwakazi’s solutions are subject to the replacement of ZANU PF from government by the MDC and those who believe in an independent state of Mthwakazi on the other side. And then there are those people who have long lost hope in the politics of Zimbabwe and have political apathy as their only action.
Furthermore negative perceptions of the pro-Mthwakazi leadership, doubts about the manifesto and the organisations’ ambivalent Zimbabwe stance reinforce each other in a snowballing effect to discourage active public involvement in the Mthwakazi agenda. Some groups push an anti-Shona agenda which is completely different from a pro-Mthwakazi agenda.
In a space where the reckless are full of passionate intensity, we find calls for the expulsion of certain tribes from Mthwakazi being popularised. Apart from being populist, these calls smack of desperation, are cruel, misplaced and lack evidential support. There is no objective evidence to suggest the expulsion of ethnic Shona people, for instance, would empower the other population groups that remain in Mthwakazi.
The biggest problem in African politics is the power deficit between the public and the leadership, the gap of which often leaves the public incapable to effectively challenge the political elite to account for their actions.
While fighting the MDC/ ZANU PF and impact in Mthwakazi of the Shona supremacy these parties espouse is a legitimate cause that has rightly become the core of our politics, we cannot progress by spending a life-time learning the methods of an enemy. This is time to look at ways of marketing our agenda and make Zimbabwe’s mainstream political parties obsolete in Mthwakazi.
The creation of an electoral coalition is key. Advancing a positive argument will be a good start to build public confidence and prevent the potential rejection by communities that our organisations have been founded to represent. The most effective way of advancing the Mthwakazi ideology is no longer through uniting against a common enemy but removing internal conflict and mistrust, and identifying and uniting behind shared values.
We are a diverse nation, but one nation we are; we do not owe allegiance to a tribe or ethnicity or race or sex but to the ideas that formed the traditional state of Mthwakazi. These core ideas are based on equality in diversity; we are a multi-racial, multi-tribal state of men and women whose desire is for the laws of the land to be applied equally across society and for all who call Mthwakazi home to freely express their values without structural interference.
Another one of our challenges will have to be to clearly illustrate how negative policies applied in Matabeleland by the ZANU PF government affect all, and not just some tribes. For instance there are public services that are acquired only in Harare, this will impact any Matabeleland resident regardless of their tribe or race. Our fight is for the redistributive politics that oversees devolution of power to improve delivery of services.
Giving privilege to the nasty and trivial sentiments divides than unites the nation. We are a nation of diverse ideas, communities, tribes and languages, any intervention we recommend has to preserve that identity. Whining about the presence of ethnic Shona people in Mthwakazi yet holding in high esteem the view that we are a tolerant people of a nation made possible by diversity is off-putting political double standards.