Mthwakazi movement and political accountability

Fear has consumed many in Mthwakazi following the heart wrenching Zimbabwe state-sanctioned Gukurahundi operations in the 1980s. Typically, the Mthwakazi civilian population has displayed long-standing weaknesses in how it engages the political space. We can see the injustices of the system and its institutions yet lack the courage to challenge those policies that fall short of our expectations, and that is basically all of them. By so doing we have left the space to organised pro-Mthwakazi political movements. Many of these groups have good intentions, but the major weakness has been their insulation from public scrutiny.

Currently, there is no independent challenge and scrutiny of the many political organisations operating in our name. The civilian population needs to take collective responsibility to ensure that the political movements that claim to represent us are accountable to us, that they have the right attitude to deliver on our priorities, what they stand for is a true reflection of our interests and their capability is being developed appropriately.  

Clarifying the relationship between citizens and leaders within a pro-Mthwakazi political space will help build a culture of accountability and improve how leaders conduct themselves. Surely, any organisation that uses the Mthwakazi public experience to promote itself, build its political portfolio and justify its activities and claims to represent us which by default leaves us a target of ZANU PF reprisals cannot in fairness claim to be wholly private entity; it forfeits that status and thus owes accountability to the public.

We have to endure the discordance between imagination and fact. The Mthwakazi public hates the system that characterises ZANU PF government, and not the ethnic Shona people. We are against a supremacist system built on the belief that certain people are superior based solely on their tribe. We object to the tribally biased state institutions that facilitate the marginalisation and mal-treatment of minority population groups. While we are at it, care need be taken that our own pro-Mthwakazi movement does not become a vessel through which the Mthwakazi elites replace ZANU PF from Matabeleland but leave its systems intact and not altered in the slightest.

The goal of the movement is to make the Zimbabwean system obsolete in Mthwakazi, remove and replace it and all its supporting institutions. This is legalised tyranny of the majority, a system built to propagate inequality based solely on tribe. It is for the same reason we advise pro-Mthwakazi groups against narratives targeting specific tribes for abuse.

When leaders alter and narrow down the narrative to be about ethnic Shona people versus Ndebele people and less on policy, it raises a red flag. Raising public anger and anxiety against specific population groups is calculated diversion away from accountability; the very serious function of tribalism is distraction, it stops people from scrutinising critical policy issues while imparting victim mentality and over-reliance on self-anointed ‘liberators’.  

Accountability is central to the pro-Mthwakazi political future, any group of men and/ or women holding themselves accountable to no one should not be trusted by anyone. A leader cannot defend a nation if he is not held accountable to its laws.

No leader should be given the impression they were beyond reproach, it must be clear that the public respect accorded to leaders is conditional and solely based on account of them holding the highest office on the land; the office is owned by the citizens who voluntarily transfer their power to it and holding the office is a privilege not a right. Leaders must remain accountable to the people.

In adopting accountability as a central principle in our politics we are actively distancing ourselves from Zimbabwean politics in line with our moral position that when decision-making power is transferred from a principal (e.g. the citizens) to an agent (e.g. government), there must be a mechanism in place for holding the agent to account for their decisions and if necessary for imposing sanctions, ultimately by removing the agent from power.

Going forward, the pro-Mthwakazi revolution will need a set of standards that allow it to best reflect the views of the people in the region; it will require input from everyone not some. It is incumbent upon us the Mthwakazi public to demand accountability from our leaders. When we fail to set boundaries and hold people accountable, we risk being violated.

Accountability is central to politics, we want (for leaders) people who are prepared to suspend their egos and live in others’ world. Our allegiance is to the country first; leaders do not own people, they execute duties as directed by the constitution; all existing loopholes that allow individuals and organisations to claim ownership of the revolution and expect the rest of the population to fit in must be closed. Our call is that organisations do not make it their responsibility to liberate the public but work with the people to create an environment that empowers people to liberate themselves.

Published by THE RESEARCH HUB

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

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