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Pro-Mthwakazi and protest politics

Kicking up defenceless folk, gratuitous provocation of specific communities and ignoring the devastating impact of tribalism has been the signature model of a calamitous ZANU PF government. Matabeleland’s experience is that ZANU PF’s Zimbabwe is brutal, perverse, regressive, insular and fearful of difference. In it lies no hope for peaceful coexistence of different races and tribes; there is no light in it. It is a vast expanse of darkness and desolation.

Dealing with a belligerent and committed ZANU PF is not for snowflakes. A review of strategy and change in attitudes is necessary; we need not confuse insecurity and inadequacy for humility. Standing aside is cowardice, we must take sides as years of neutrality have done everything to empower the oppressor.  

A breeze of change is sweeping across Mthwakazi; citizens are asking pressing questions of ZANU PF/ MDC power anchors, and there are sweeping gale-force winds threatening to unhinge mainstream politics off its safety zone. What Mthwakazi has grown to understand well is that we have a moral responsibility to disobey unjust ZANU PF laws and role in Mthwakazi.

Copyright: NewsdzeZimbabwe. Matabeleland youths protesting over unfair nurse recruitment process at Mpilo Hospital in the city of Bulawayo

While we respect the right of those Mthwakazi nationals who have chosen to remain apolitical, we cannot stress enough that washing their hands of the conflict between our oppressor and us means to side with the oppressor, not to be neutral; they are the reason ZANU PF and the MDC are in control and our circumstances are worsening than improving each year since 1980.

Respecting laws that do not make an effort to recognise your value is self-deprecation. We bring it to the public attention that being law abiding is a great quality but only when the law is just and when that law truly acknowledges and protects your interests, otherwise it is cowardice. Our people need to appreciate that protest beyond the law is not contrary to democracy but absolutely essential to it.  

Mthwakazi activists stage more anti-Mnangagwa demos – NewsDay Zimbabwe
Copyright: NewsDay. Mthwakazi activists stage anti-Mnangagwa demonstrations in Bulawayo

There is however, an encouraging and growing body of courageous pro-Mthwakazi people who are not only prepared to raise their voices for honesty and truth but are ready to resist the unjust practices of the majoritarian tyranny of ZANU PF; people who are prepared to challenge and face off corruption and discrimination that has overseen the displacement of Mthwakazi citizens from their own resources, including sources of income. The hope is that more people join in and fight on.

Below we see individuals correcting misspelt names in local public facilities and these have attracted reasonable public support on social media.

Copyright: Bulawayo24 (2020) Residents correcting the spelling of Magwegwe from the misspelling ‘Magwegewe’.

Our solution does not lie in mainstream politics; that 2005 MDC split along tribal lines showed us in no uncertain terms that we will never change the existing political reality championed by ZANU PF by forming an alliance with the MDC; over the years it has become evident too that pro-Mthwakazi protest will not persuade MDC’s opinions on Mthwakazi. Basically, the MDC is a poor, unsophisticated and cheaper version of ZANU PF and all it stands for; the party is only interested in managing and not empowering Mthwakazi.

It has become apparent that we will never change things by fighting what mainstream politics of Zimbabwe represents but by building a new model that will make the existing model obsolete. The existing regime is far from a democracy, it is a Shona supremacist majoritarian tyranny with no sympathy for Mthwakazi interests.

A key characteristic of a democracy is the sustained responsiveness of the government to the preferences of its citizens but that is clearly not the motive in the Zimbabwe pseudo-democracy. The behaviour of representatives from mainstream parties has been abhorrent; not representing society but notoriously and wilfully represent one’s party at the expense of the electorate is simply unconscionable.

Copyright: Image adapted from Cuban, L (2011) Accountability in Action – Cartoons. Imagine this person being your local representative in government.

Representation of public interest must be pro-Mthwakazi movements’ target as they continue to protest and resist the extant regime. But one wonders how our groups form their perception of what is fundamental to the public. This question becomes relevant when we factor in continued anti-Shona vitriol in some groups. Does such action resonate with the public, in other words, does it make the pro-Mthwakazi movement more attractive and representative across the region and across all social groups? Or it risks presenting the movement as an irrational outburst of dangerous tribal zealots threatening public order?

By all means we need to model our politics so that it is attractive to locals of all age-groups and mainstream politics becomes obsolete across the region. To achieve that we need numbers on our side and the message and image we create of ourselves is fundamental to public perception.

Poor resources mean we are very limited in what we can do. At present we can argue that the pro-Mthwakazi movements’ efforts are more sporadic and often poorly supported on the ground, in fact the support is too low to effect responsiveness from ZANU PF legislators, they have often ignored the protests or simply arrested protesters.

We can free ourselves from this majoritarian tyranny. There are positive signs within the pro-Mthwakazi protest politics that the tolerance threshold has been lowered for unjust laws. Significantly, there is growing confidence among the public to challenge and resist mainstream political shenanigans in our region. We obviously need more robust measures to persuade large numbers of Mthwakazi citizens to join in the staging of protests and go public to seek social support so as to set in motion a sustained process that will make it impossible or difficult for elected legislators to continue ignoring us.  


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