Ordinary citizens’ principal concern of politics within the Matabeleland movement is the distribution of power. Who holds sway in political thought and political action alike is the central preoccupation of the ordinary citizen. We seek from the leadership, justification and defence in the way power is currently distributed in the movement.
There has to be an understanding that people are done with being led, they want to govern themselves. There are two poignant public desires, people want to be who and what they want. Massaging elite egos is the yester generation politics; the present and the future demands leadership accountability and full participation of the ordinary citizens in matters affecting them.
People are no longer content with marginal roles in the politics of their nation. In fact, ordinary men and women are fed up with being told what to do by career politicians and the elite. People want to actively shape their political space in their own image, and that can only be achieved through real participation; increased involvement in the entire political process is the goal; we cannot be expected to vote for handpicked candidates, go home and wait for the next general election to yet again elect a handpicked candidate.
We strongly believe there is need for a new political power distribution to correspond with new conceptions of independence, democracy and the urgent need to improve efficiency within the movement. As alluded to above, we cannot continue with a philosophy that marginalises ordinary citizens from corridors of power and major decision-making while restricting them to hazardous ‘foot soldier’ roles.
It is thus important for the Matabeleland movement leadership to appreciate that for the movement’s sustained growth and survival, it must be owned by the people of Matabeleland or at least be responsive to the people, not be merely a political project in which elites impose their ideologies but the citizens have little real influence on their actions.
A genuinely effective political movement does not simply result from academic and political elite dictating terms and conditions. It emerges when ordinary men and women acquire resources and values that enable them to put effective pressures on elites– a process often called “human empowerment”.
Ideologies that are elitist in origin and focus instigate a disconnection between ordinary people and political figures or movements. To the ordinary man and woman such movements become a face for elite dreams and career politicians’ cravings for power, nothing else.
When ordinary citizens do not form the core of your political ideology, you are barking the wrong tree and most definitely pursuing wrong goals. The movement leadership must not become one of the principal obstacles to Matabeleland progress by answering to big donors rather than their own people.
It is pretty obvious that ordinary Matabeleland citizens have no appetite for a politics that pits tribe against tribe, race against race, and prejudice against prejudice. Divide and rule is not the Matabeleland template, and movement leaders need to stop targeting specific population groups for abuse; evidence clearly shows such behaviour bears no political capital, if anything, it is counterproductive.
Diversity is the foundation of Matabeleland, this generation must build on that. Individual or group identity must be respected, but not at the expense of the nation; it must never be used as a tool to extend or deny privileges to certain population groups. Citizens must not be reduced to last names or ethnicity or tribe or race; no Matabeleland citizen should be treated as an afterthought if the Matabeleland movement is to achieve its goals.
Quality of participants is essential in political activism. There is obvious political skills gap between the political leadership and the elite and the ordinary citizens who are expected to vote. That gap must be closed with relevant education and not manipulated for the benefit of some population groups within the system.
Education and increased access to critical social, economic and political information is fundamental in the improvement of the quality of political debate and action. Our movements need to address the disparity in investment in human skills which seems to be currently steeped in favour of cities in general and the rich and the elite, in particular, while leaving ordinary citizens with little resources and no ability to lobby the leadership for appropriate changes.
We want the Matabeleland movement to maintain a safe and enabling operational environment for leaders and the people; while we, as ordinary citizens, are willing to give the leadership the space to exercise their power, that offer should never amount to ordinary citizens surrendering their power to politicians. This kind of commitment to political expression and free political expression for all is sometimes in conflict with people feeling empowered, protected and safe. We appreciate there may be times when we will struggle when these two values clash but this is the way of politics for the future.