Voicing our concerns about a vengeance based political doctrine and advocating against retaliatory strategies should not be misconstrued for cowardice; we are not cowards for not having faith in emotionally charged strategies that target specific population groups for abuse, and attempt to create a moral code that celebrates hatred against other humans. An ethnic Shona dominated government committed crimes against Matabeles but mob justice is neither safe nor just. Violent movements attract mobsters and firebrands who enjoy the mayhem with little interest in genuine justice, and forming democratic systems and institutions is never in their agenda.
By equating policy-critical views with cowardice, the Matabeleland movement is losing the opportunity to win the argument and build solidarity via compromise. Emotional blackmail is desperation not inspiration; targeting and dehumanising specific population groups and accusing those who question the justification of the approach as cowards is patronising. Politics wise, the real benefits [to the movement] of retaliatory tactics against ethnic Shona people are difficult to fathom; retaliation leads to a cycle of unending violence and alienates third parties who might otherwise support the movement.
Wise men are not pacifists; they are merely less likely to jump up and retaliate against their antagonizers…Criss Jami
Choose carefully what you want to fight for or against and how you are going to fight. Frankly, a political struggle that does not have human rights at the heart of it, above it, below it, and within it is not worth pursuing at all. A politics that purely on the basis of raw prejudice against certain population groups goes out of its way to find excuses and justification for hating other humans must be discredited, abandoned and permanently eradicated from our space.
As one who has been subjected to tribal discrimination and seen the integrity of my homeland being discredited and my people dehumanised by an ethnic Shona dominated tribal supremacist Zimbabwean government, I stand firmly and unequivocally opposed to any strategy rooted on tribal exclusivity and a stance that dehumanises other population groups and calls for the expulsion from Matabeleland of specific peoples. An evil deed is not redeemed by an evil deed of retaliation.
Vengeance, retaliation, retribution, revenge as a political strategy form a deceitful combination that promises our unsuspecting people justifiable compensation to the pained souls for their losses. The reality is that hate consumes what little is left of you; you will not repair your broken glass house by throwing retaliatory stones on your neighbour’s glass house; you may get some relief and satisfaction from breaking your neighbour’s glass house in retaliation but the relief is only temporary.
Your peace and comfort will come from within and not from the abuse inflicted upon other human beings, the length of your days on earth are not a function of how many people you deny justice or even life. You can only protect your liberties by protecting the other man’s freedom. Your freedom is connected to everybody else’s liberty.
Rebuilding Matabeleland requires a huge emotional, economic, political and social investment in strong, coherent internal systems and not an investment in anger and marketing raw prejudice and hatred against specific population groups.
Our problem is not the powerless ordinary ethnic Shona person but a powerful minority at the core of an ethnic Shona dominated ZANU PF-led government system and institutions that have facilitated privileges for ethnic Shona people. Fighting and using the same tools, same strategy will not fundamentally alter the reality on the ground – protecting humanity is our goal.
People are not scared to commit to the liberation of Matabeleland, they are only ready to fight with a different set of tools and mind-set; we want to fight not because we hate any tribe or race but because we love the diversity and tolerance that our nation exudes, and we resent its erosion by the present regime. We fully understand our nation is not perfect and our war must begin by addressing the internal insecurities that create divisions that in turn frequently open holes through which water from the outside finds its way into the ship that is Matabeleland.
The consensus is that federalism as a system and institutions that promote direct and semi-direct democracy will best meet our needs. Instead of attacking specific population groups let the focus be on opening the economic and political space for all locals to fully participate. The task is for local authorities and civil society organisations (CSOs) to provide the framework for local engagement.
Our capabilities are already in display where local infrastructural development programmes have taken hold, e.g. rehabilitation of local education and health infrastructure, provision of decent accommodation, etc. To take these programmes to the greater Matabeleland region, we need to consult widely and help make expertise accessible, extend skills and knowledge and adapt them to the needs of different communities.
A government that has never shown any compassion to our concerns, a government that rejoiced in the stripping of our people’s dignity, mutilation and murder of mothers and fathers, the unborn babies, sisters and brothers cannot be part of a solution; we have nothing to learn from it nor reason to invite it nor give it our attention. It is through the willingness to accept responsibility for our own lives that self-respect will spring, and from self-respect will spring a dignified Matabeleland, a state that respects human rights of its citizens regardless of tribe or race or religion or gender. Forming a working union of our different communities will be the next and biggest step.