Matabeleland: the politics of fault finding

Experience is a good teacher, Matabeleland’s political stagnation requires us to take more responsibility to find solutions. We start by accepting we are the major stumbling block to lack of growth of internally relevant organisations, systems and institutions; we have far too many groups and individuals offering too little and asking too much to develop any coherent political strategy. There is extensive and long-term damage to our political space. Even more damaging, we have adopted a hazardous political orientation where finding fault in others is the default position; it is now the basis of the political campaign strategy.

Finding fault in others is now the theme of the political discourse across Matabeleland. It attracts massive social media attention. Whenever we see or read or hear about activities being undertaken by others our instantaneous reaction is to look for defects – we are looking for ‘what’s there that shouldn’t be there, what isn’t there that should be there’.

We accept our politics should be open to questions, but the political space should never be shaped, dominated or forced to operate off what fault finders think about it. Suggestions of inherent tribal bigotry and political impropriety against the pro-Matabeleland movement are categorically untrue and incredibly dangerous.

We are certainly not objecting to all criticism of the ideas, programmes and activities of the current crop of Matabeleland revolutionaries; we consider and accept that no one group’s contribution is the end to the conversation but the beginning of it. This article does not insinuate or assert that pro-Matabeleland advocates should be exempt from public scrutiny. It is right and proper that our leaders are asked hard questions; we believe in accountability, and objective criticism is core to it; we encourage such for the benefit of the broader social and political space.

Our biggest objection however, is to opinionated political attacks hell bent on discrediting the pro-Matabeleland agenda. Objective criticism will identify both strengths and vulnerabilities and suggest alternative solutions yet what we are currently witnessing are crass negative opinions that do not only lack credibility themselves but offer next to no tangible solutions. Telling people that their ideas were weak will not magically make them stronger.

A fair critique is born off good research and good understanding of the philosophy behind what is being critiqued, without that knowledge your opinions are just independent opinions not connected to the original message they were meant to interrogate.

To disarm the oppressor, we need internal discipline. Individuals and groups interested in engaging in a constructive debate on the pro-Matabeleland agenda, you are hereby reassured that its objectives remain unchanged – the advancement and protection of human rights in Matabeleland, and it views challenging and eradicating tribal supremacy and building life-affirming institutions as essential programmes.

Fault finding as a political strategy is as easy as it is lazy; all one has to do is wait for someone else to come up with an idea or do something and like vultures, on him/ her you pounce.

A toxic environment of political negativity cannot be a base for connectivity and growth. When you are quick to criticise and condemn others you lose out on listening skills and on opportunities of redeeming others and yourself, and learning from situations. The result is an all-round compromised space: people develop thick skin, adopt defensive attitudes and passively resist your alternative views; genuine and constructive criticism is ignored or misinterpreted for condemnation and the loser is Matabeleland politics.

No system or institution is devoid of fault but faults cannot be resolved by adopting a blame culture; blaming others is a waste of time and a cowardly behaviour adopted by cowards cowering from their own responsibilities. People need to be so strong that they cannot be ignored but you cannot acquire that status by constantly blaming others. No matter how much fault you find with another, and regardless of how much you blame them, it will not change you or the systems.

The objective of blame is often just that – blame. For fault finders the objectivity of an argument is least on their priorities. The only thing blaming others does is to keep the focus off you and your responsibilities, which is often the intention of cowards. Remember, it is easier to find someone to blame for the broken security wall than to take responsibility to fix it; blaming the inept workmen will only divert attention from your failure to fix the security wall but it will neither secure the wall nor improve your safety.

Dealing with people whose only centre of focus is themselves is a waste of time, no matter how much you bend to make compromise they will find something to blame you on. To build back a better Matabeleland, we will throw back a challenge – instead of finding what is broken, find what needs fixing, and fix it or at least find someone who can. For every fault you identify within the pro-Matabeleland politics, identify and share three possible solutions.

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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