Experience has taught us that when tribalism is elevated to a system level, the system is reduced to tribalism level. Consequently, an unstable, irresponsible, calamitous system that orchestrates, feeds and benefits from hatred within and between communities, promotes and protects supremacism, tyranny of the majority and/ or the elite, heightens brutality, raise public anxiety and fear, lacks accountability, selectively applies law and promotes more tribalism is created.
To those African leaders and their associates in the media whose conclusion after witnessing the USA 2020 presidential elections is that Africa should no longer take lectures on democracy from the USA, we say calm down and be real. Besides the fact many of these leaders are too self-absorbed to retain new information let alone stay awake for an entire lecture on democracy, recent events in the USA cannot be used as evidence that we no longer need lectures on good governance; learning has no limits.
Yes, in an unprecedented turn of events in modern US history, the fragility and vulnerability of the country’s democracy was fully exposed; the system was severely tested and questioned but it did not shirk; the institutions held firm and answered the call when needed. Contrast that with the outcome in Uganda two months later, and you will appreciate we still have a lot to learn from the USA. While under severe strain the USA institutions reaffirmed that the law is King, the Ugandan institutions on the other hand emphasised that the King is law and laws that do not fit in with his personal interests and those of his party can be ignored with impunity.
For us in Mthwakazi the stark lesson of the last four decades in Zimbabwe is that public estrangement from the corridors of power makes for serious failings within the institutions that are meant to protect the system from power hungry politicians; it has become apparent that the failure to hold a government to account only leads to more conduct for which the government should be held to account.
The challenges to USA and Uganda electoral processes with their completely different outcomes provide good lessons for the future and we are reminded of Thomas Jefferson’s words:
“In questions of power, let no more be heard of confidence in man, but bind him down from mischief by the chains of the constitution.”― Thomas Jefferson
Under the auspices of democracy Zimbabwean laws have continuously been enacted within a tribally biased regulatory environment and this has increasingly become intolerable due to unacceptable conduct remediation. Within this system, ethnic Shona majority tyranny continues to compel Mthwakazi people to demonstrate compliance with a system that does not even pretend to reflect their needs.
To build the future, we need to take a quick look at our past for lessons: creating cult figures is dangerous for society; in our experience granting unrestricted political power to our local hero Dr Joshua Nkomo led to disastrous outcomes, unintended as they were. We cannot undo the past but going forward we would be fools to put trust in an individual without placing adequate safeguards to protect the individual from himself/ herself and damaging the national interests.
We would do well to draw political capacity from our long history of living side by side as different communities but one people, our shared experiences and our reserves of tolerance to build a truly democratic modern Mthwakazi political model and nation.
It is fair to say to date we have failed to hold constructive conversations because communication is being hindered by competing factors – especially conflict between issues of ethnic and national interest. Put blunt, if we cannot hold a civil conversation we will not take charge of our political course anytime soon but shall – collectively – continue to share in the misery under the ZANU PF regime. The key to holding a logical argument or debate is to allow oneself to understand the other person’s argument no matter how divergent their views may seem.
Tribal identity is an essential aspect of Mthwakazi society, unfortunately it has also been a bone of contention within the Mthwakazi/ Matabeleland politics. Supremacy ‘wars’ are a daily occurrence on social media and that arguably saps energy away from rebuilding our nation. Imagine people ‘fighting’ over what name to call their country?
While we accept the importance of tribal identity, it is also our belief that people should move beyond restrictive tribal identification lines to seeing themselves more than just this or that tribe but as citizens of a nation of one people working toward a common goal. The progress of the country must not be hindered by self-serving tribal interests; tribal identity needs to be understood and put in its rightful place in the context of the fullness of the laws meant to govern our nation. Laws must respect individual rights and freedoms.
Many of the pre-existing communes would seamlessly transition into states, states that constitute communities who share a lot in common in a federal republic. In principle, it is widely agreed within Mthwakazi that federalism will be an apt political model that would allow for a good power balance between states and the federal republic.
Caution is advised on the deliberate creation of tribe and/ or ethnic based states as without proper safeguards such a move may unintentionally lead to ethnic supremacy and discrimination against those perceived as different and do not fit in the stereotypical social, cultural and racial character of a region. We do not want to create a tussle between individual rights and society rights.
Good governance and not dominance of one tribe or race over another should be the foundation for pro-Mthwakazi politics; our happiness does not depend on the suffering of any other population group. We need strong institutions to protect citizens from excesses of the government.