We are, but just one people

Years of political persecution, frustration and betrayal make a Matabeleland united and collaborative approach to problem-solving a greater necessity now more than ever before. Our marginalisation within the Zimbabwean system and its supporting institutions has inflicted damaging self-doubt, self-hate, fear and confusion which have plunged the diverse Matabeleland nation into a network of self-destruction and political degradation.

Evidence indicates that we have lost purpose and in its place acquired destructive ethnocentrism; distrust encapsulates internal interactions, individuals and communities are building walls around themselves in fear of their neighbours. We are fully aware the fear and suspicion are not internally generated, they are the insidious work of the oppressor who has been deliberately using some of our own to pursue his long-term goal as documented in the so-called 1979 Grand Plan. However, it is never too late to reset our minds, focus on the right things and rescue our political destiny.  

Difficult times call for difficult choices; people must set aside the important things in order to accomplish the vital ones; things which matter most must not be held hostage to things which matter least. Tribal or ethnic identity and political ideology are important, but no more than the effective functioning of our state. Unless people’s lives are improved, then all the ideologies, systems, institutions and physical state configurations are purposeless.

A social and political reality that turned Matabeleland into a unique state in Africa is that a tranquil political space is not a product of unity in similarity but unity in diversity. Two difficult decisions need to be made before it is too late to resuscitate our politics: 1) mainstream Zimbabwe politics must be made obsolete in Matabeleland, and 2) constructively reclaim politics from fanatics to avoid alienating the public from a Matabeleland political agenda – language must only be used as a communication tool and not a weapon of patriotism.

‘Solutions’ that marginalise the public voice are nothing but fantasies. We do not deny the fact political movements bring in vital expertise and external links but they must not see as their exclusive duty to deliver freedom to the people and embrace the idea their main role is facilitation, that is, movements working for freedom with the people. Investing in public image is important for any political movement; movements must be seen to be respectful and sensitive to public feeling. Consulting and encouraging public involvement and participation will ensure politics is more aligned with the people not political party leaders’ aspirations.

It is essential for the Matabeleland state that individuals and communities willingly subordinate their interests for the greater benefit of the state, but the state must behave in a way that makes such sacrifices worthwhile.  

THE RESEARCH HUB

If the state cannot protect the communities and/ or nations, the communities and/ or nations cannot protect the state; If communities and/ or nations cannot protect the state, the state cannot protect the communities and/ nations; the two bodies are deeply interconnected and very dependent upon each other for survival.  

The survival of Matabeleland depends on common purpose and cooperation of its diverse population; the state must recognise all tribes and nations and all tribes and nations must see themselves in the state. We want to remove all obstacles to communities achieving their self-worth. We want to live in dignity, and that can only happen when every community is given adequate autonomy to shape its social, economic and political space in its own image.  

A progressive and functional political system will require that our different nations work together; like any partnership, communities will have to subordinate their own needs to those of the others’ in the expectation that others will do the same. The reality is that we do better together; our social and cultural differences do matter, but our common identity as Matabeleland people and need for progress supersede that. We must come to an understanding as Matabeleland citizens that the independence of Zimbabwe is not ours, and hopefully we shall collectively stop wondering why we are not benefitting from it. Even more important, we will not try and search for excuses to find non-existent benefits.  

Defenders of the ZANU PF system exist among us, and theirs is a politics of convenience not principle. These loud few who are beneficiaries of the Zimbabwean regime must not be allowed to determine the political course of our nation; their voices are a discord that will diminish our political desires.

Vital to the efforts to win over the public is not only a good message but how that good message is delivered and perceived by the recipients. Language is important in engaging people and keeping them interested; Matabeleland people are not yet sold to belligerence thus, extreme, aggressive and irresponsible language alienates local political movements from the very public they seek to represent.

Freedom is not free, it requires action; until each man, woman, tribe and every nation in our land is prepared to lose himself in the service of our great state, we will continue to fight petty battles amongst ourselves while the war is being lost as Harare extends and deepens its control, and shapes the territory in its own image. Given the needs, tastes, aspirations and interests of our different communities have not always been similar, and have at times actually been opposed or even clashed, the fact remains that through our shared history each community is now so conditioned by the life of others that it is impossible for any community to isolate itself and lead its own life separate from the rest. No matter the occasional squabbling, social, economic and political solidarity has become a fact of life from which none of our different communities can escape.

Published by THE RESEARCH HUB

a progressive politics and policy researcher and author with an interest in Matabeleland human rights, liberties, safety and security.

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