Partisanship diminishes the Matabeleland movement

Fanatics at the core of the Matabeleland (Mthwakazi) politics are becoming burdensome and detrimental to the social and political capital growth of the Matabeleland movement. Different groups that collectively form the Matabeleland movement political space have grown exceptionally polarised, a scenario that generates a rapid race to becoming a dysfunctional movement.  

Great listeners make for great leaders who serve the people not personal pride and interests; they show a willingness or ability to handle contradiction; they know when to make sacrifices for the greater benefit of a nation; they are not self-ingratiating individuals who will sacrifice the nation just to score partisan points or preserve their egos.

The modern day ideological polarisation in the Matabeleland movement is a worrisome phenomenon that diminishes the prospects of the movement and is a real threat to the liberty and freedom of the people of Matabeleland. We argue that heightened partisanship muzzles sound and durable public policy formulation, if not the very health of the polity.    

We lament the harsh and hyper-partisan rhetoric from our leaders which instead of building socio-political capital continues to build wedges that widen the gulf across the political divide, and between communities and different population groups in our political space. It would appear to most of our organisations nothing matters to them other than partisanship, but it is now crystal clear that the arguments between them serve as a smokescreen to obscure their policy deficiencies.

Tribe and ethnic baiting have failed as political capital drivers yet many organisations persist with the approach. What we witness are leaders and senior members of organisations deliberately pushing down people’s throats hate-filled and divisive messages, and apart from promising to liberate us, there is scant detail or rationale on their political stance.

History is a great teacher, the liberation movement of the 1960/70s was a beneficiary of blind partisanship. The narrative of that past is that people were promised heaven on earth – independence from white rule and unfettered public access to the country’s vast reserve of resources was the highlight of promises by liberation movement; people believed although the finer detail of what form that independence was going to take was missing. The same ‘liberators’ have become prime tormentors of citizens and looters of resources at an unimaginable scale.

If a repeat of that past is to be avoided, logic, fact, morality, legality, ideology and not partisanship should be the foundation of our polity. Our movement leadership must appreciate the following: we do not believe our liberation is, and will ever be, subject to the expulsion of any population group from Matabeleland but we trust it would be attained through transparent policies that promote unhindered participation in everything about us.

Right now the Matabeleland movement is in turmoil with no sign of an immediate reprieve; it is a politics held hostage by fanatics in a dark alley where it lies hijacked by partisan passions and failing to do the work the people of Matabeleland expect of it. Public interest lies in gaining adequate autonomy to shape their political space so that it serves them; people do not want more gridlock, neither do they want more partisanship nor want more obstruction.

Some displays of partisanship are too entrenched to be easily shifted as observed in the polarised position on Zimbabwean state administered local elections. These arguments are a diversionary crisis and an unwelcome impediment at a time when we need to build political capital. We must look beyond partisan goals and find common ground in order to achieve our primary goal of building political capital and make the MDC/ ZANU PF duality of evil obsolete in our region.

We want unconditional protection of our human rights which includes the right to frame local space in our image – our culture, religion, political, social and economic needs. Thus, the call to raise our moral code and standard high above partisanship and demand that regardless of which Matabeleland organisation wields power, civility reigns and our politics works according to public expectation.

Real radicalism and genuine change in our political space will come from people who insist on thinking for themselves and who reject partisanship. Political parties may have a role to play in terms of structure and organisation, but party-mindedness stifles growth through limiting the scope of individuals’ focus. Our political leaders will have to adopt creative leadership styles, open their organisations to increased public participation to benefit from new and timely ideas for the betterment of the nation.

In conclusion, we argue that partisanship will not work in our highly diversified and integrated society. And being able to take control of our political destiny is too great a goal to allow political disagreement and petty partisanship to derail us. People should be willing to handle contradiction. Therefore, when it comes to important matters to be solved and for necessary political gains to be made we call upon all stakeholders, our leaders and the people to be courageous enough to set aside partisan goals and embrace the best solutions as they come regardless of which side they come from.

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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