Social protection in Mthwakazi

Until the last Mthwakazi citizen has access to clean water, decent accommodation, clothes, literacy, affordable healthcare, sufficient and ongoing steady state support to protect them from hunger, malnutrition and poverty, we cannot consider ourselves a just society, let alone free. There is a growing sense in Mthwakazi that the ZANU PF led government has not found the right balance in the distribution of economic and political power, we see an ongoing febrile political climate – protests and regrettable instances of use of tribally inflammatory language.

Your priorities determine your policy decisions. I take exception to our Mthwakazi movement leadership’s obsession with power but not the people; people are actually a vital resource and source of political power and any responsible leader should be concerned about them. The apparent lack of a coherent strategy and policy to rein in poverty and the absence of viable social protection policies should worry any decent citizen.

The foremost priority of the Mthwakazi state must be the removal of obstacles to access to opportunities across society. We can and we must eradicate absolute poverty, hunger and malnutrition, disease and illiteracy in Mthwakazi. All social welfare programmes must be implemented efficiently. All stakeholders involved in the delivery of services should be geared towards a transparent, corruption-free, time-bound and accountable provision.

While a welfare system is an essential aspect of government and society, we need to ensure a sense of entitlement is not created in the process and society earns what it puts into the pot that which it uses to support those in need. We must be politically and economically savvy and avoid the creation of out-of-control social welfare entitlement programmes supposedly to solve community problems. Politically motivated programmes are often impractical, unsustainable and have irreparable damage to the fabric of society.

In an increasingly globalised world, the negative impact of poor and inadequate welfare systems is quick to cause ripples that distabilise the social, economic and political fabric across oceans. We believe people are better saved when they are free and in their borders, and to maximise global social welfare, policymakers in those societies that have modernised and optimised their welfare systems should encourage the diffusion of knowledge to those lacking expertise.

Policy decisions on the socioeconomic growth of Matabeleland need to be decentralised and power transferred to local communities who we believe know their needs best. To date the Matabeleland movement politics has paid little focus on the least fortunate who have been effectively marginalised in the decisions about how best to frame their social, economic and political space.

In line with the true spirit of Ubuntu, our socio-political progress must not be measured on how well we protect the property of the wealthy, but rather how the system promotes equality of opportunity for all; it must not ignore how this powerful minority group of privileged people attempts to compel the rest of society to submit to its arbitrary will; so, how those with little among us are protected from poverty, most of which is not of their creation, should be the base indicator of a successful politics of distribution of resources.

We know fully well that under the current regime our people have never known what it means to be independent and free. Mind you, these are the same people who fought a heroic fight to break free from the chains of colonialism only to be chained onto poverty by their own black led government. We are here talking of black leaders who have not only failed to grow the economy but have failed to create the necessary conditions that open up the economy for wider participation and equally failed to protect the poor unemployed citizens from the impact of poverty.

Looking at the current economic output and lack of opportunities in the economy for the last three decades, there is a clear deficit between social security needs and the capacity to meet those needs.

It is not our belief that the state should do for the people what the people ought to do for themselves, but morality of social welfare aside, we contend that the state has as minimum, a duty to protect the most vulnerable in our society. 

We cannot, as society, depend on a begging bowl and charity of the international community and risk being held hostage to the whims of foreigners who feed us. Apart from poor leadership, we cannot justify being the perpetual victim of hunger and malnutrition, illiteracy and disease in the 21st Century when we literally live in the middle of plenty.

Social welfare has always been an integral part of Mthwakazi society. We need to continue to defend the provision of some form of welfare from the cradle to the grave. Policymakers must come up with effective policies and providers pitch up with both effective and efficient delivery methods that would protect the disadvantaged from poverty, hunger, malnutrition, disease, illiteracy, misinformation and disinformation. Many of the people starving today in Matabeleland happen to be the same people who sacrificed their lives so that our country might meet its promises. As it turns out they are now dislocated from main facets of society and confined in the margins far away from the corridors of power. They have nothing, not of their making but because the black government of Zimbabwe has not opened the state institutions for full participation by the people. Power and opportunities are restricted to very few elites and their connections. 

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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