Corruption scandals and lack of political accountability since 1980 when Zimbabwe gained independence put to rest what has become a truism – the notion that political parties are an effective instrument and vehicle of participation in a democracy. Such a notion does not reflect Matabeleland’s reality, in Zimbabwe party politics has become the enemy of development, a purveyor of bad governance and a hindrance to progress. We believe political parties only serve ideology and do not serve the people.
There is practically very little to savour about modern political practices and political parties. Political representatives who act like employees of their party leadership do not save public interest and are generally unable to resist the influence of these efficiently organised private entities with vested interests; let us be got rid of them, and the public must come together to achieve this national objective.
We need a deliberate reconfiguration of Mthwakazi’s political space that will see citizens and not ideologies being the focus of politics once again. We argue that modern politics is great in semantics and promises but in practice it is highly divisive to communities and brutal to the ordinary women and minority population groups; the general public is pushed further away from the margins of power which is strategically concentrated on the elite few and their associates.
Fighting the extraction of power by the elite, the rich and powerful and incapacitation of ordinary people and minority population groups is not just good politics, it is self-defence; it is patriotism. Political parties create power enclaves and breed ‘god-like figures’ who eventually believe in themselves, lose respect of everyone else and lose focus of how power should be used responsibly.
Our forbearers did politics without political parties and it was an all-inclusive politics, a politics that drew leaders closer not shielded them away from the public, a politics that united than curved communities apart, the politics did not set neighbour upon neighbour all in the name of ideology. We must revisit that foundation, stop obsessing with political party identities but never abandon politics; we can do away with political parties and still do politics; let us refrain from serving an ideology or a political party and start serving people. Future generations are not going to ask us what political party were you in. They are going to ask, “What did you do about it, when you knew that the Matabeleland people were denied their rights?”
To be a great nation once again, Mthwakazi must reshape its political space in this generation and build opportunity for future generations; replace loyalty to political party or ethnicity with loyalty to the nation; we must support local good people who want to do something for society. A mental shift is required urgently, our elected leaders must realise that their responsibility lies not with their political party, but rather with the people of Mthwakazi who have given them the mandate to represent their interests.
We the peoples of Matabeleland will never allow anyone, any organisation, or any political party, at any time or in any form, to separate our communities. Ethnic diversity remains our greatest source of pride and prestige and political wealth never to be turned into a political weapon to divide and separate people.
Change is a natural phenomenon; we are not against new political ideas but we are not naïve to think all change is good. We notice with great sorrow the drop in moral standards in government in our territory, the widening gap between the haves and have-nots and the intolerance that has become a breeding ground for political violence in our communities.
It is for the above reasons that we the people, want to be more than mere consumers of political change, we want to be active participants of that process. Politics must resonate with public identity and needs. Given some Western processes have been effectively adapted to meet our needs, we should resist the temptation of turning foreign ideologies into a template of solutions to our challenges because imposed out of context these ideas have shown a propensity to fall dangerously short leaving a trial of instability and unsustainability of our governments.
There is a cult of ignorance in the party politics, and there has always been since the colonisation of the African mind. The strain of anti-Africanism has been a constant threat in the empowerment of African peoples. It is winding its way through our political and cultural life, nurtured by the false notion that anything foreign is good and positive development.
Reality points at the backbone of the improvement of our system and institutions being how well our principles and multiple cultures are adapted into a functional government system. Good standards and relevant modernity will not be imported or imposed from outside of Matabeleland, but will be created from within it.
Matabeleland is a diverse social and cultural environment with unique needs. We will not require party politics whose objective is to win elections and all the power; we all need to work together for the changes we need because leaving just one nation out will be unacceptable negligence; let it sink in that there is no equity without rights to equal access to power and social protection, no social justice and, ultimately, no peace for the peoples of the Mthwakazi without the guarantees of shared power.
We are under no illusion, change requires participation but our participation does not require us to join political parties; we do not believe the honour of shaping our political space is an exclusive property of any political party. We believe we have a duty to participate in the process in some way other than just blindly getting behind a political party. Political parties serve ideologies, we want politics to serve the peoples of Matabeleland.