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The Rightful Politics for Matabeleland

Difference and diversity make Matabeleland society strong not weak, dynamic not chaotic, and difference and diversity must be preserved whatever the cost may be; difference must neither be de-emphasised, nor suppressed, nor ignored. Everyone should see their true reflection in our systems and institutions; the de-essentialisation of any individuals and groups in the region must be avoided and no one should be given the sense that their historical experience is inessential to them. We need systems and policies in place that create equality of condition in our political space by respecting and promoting explanation of the differences that exist between peoples in Matabeleland; we must be able to debate our differences without fracturing communities.

Our experience from Zimbabwean mainstream politics teaches us that whenever differences are deliberately suppressed, are not highlighted in a society, individuals and groups become more and more unequal as smaller and/ or less powerful groups endure the passive pressure to abandon their identity or ideology and assimilate into the domineering culture.

Self-reflection is essential for Matabeleland progress, we are not a perfect nation, and there is a need to acknowledge we are work in progress. The area of concern in our nation is the approach on tribe; our inability to talk about tribe and its complexities means our tribalism is arguably more insidious. We rarely acknowledge it, and those who do are accused of being divisive. The Kalanga/ Nguni majority does not like being reminded that the cultural landscape is still flawed, still broken.

Concerns about ethnic discrimination must be faced and addressed with honesty. We cannot allow desensitization of bullying of smaller population groups all in the name of satire by the big and powerful groups. We cannot allow a situation where certain communities are seen from the viewpoint of powerful communities, and not from themselves.

We are a nation of communities, each is different from the other, none is special, and all are needed; it is important that each community is allowed space to be itself. Let us affirm our diversity and respect every community. It must be understood that equality cannot be achieved by arrogance that sees those intricate elements that define certain communities within our nation being ignored or ridiculed.

It is essential for the Matabeleland nation that individuals and communities willingly subordinate their interests for the greater benefit of the nation, but the nation must behave in a way that makes such sacrifices worthwhile. Justice must cut through our political systems and institutions so much that our different communities see the benefit in making any sacrifices to be a Matabeleland nation.

Direct democracy, as precisely argued in previous articles, will be the best way to govern Matabeleland and ensure communities have genuine control over local issues. We need to object to current ideals represented by ZANU PF where community leaders, including chiefs become ruling party representatives, marketeers, and stooges; community leaders must represent interests of their people to the state and not state interests to the people.

Questioning the mainstream politics represented by ZANU PF, MDCs, CCC and similar organisations is not objection to syncretism; we are not against the mixing of different thoughts, cultures, and ethnicities that often ends up creating entirely new ones. Indeed, our diversity in Matabeleland predictably lends itself into such mixing and outcomes.

However, our view is that representative politics needs to be reviewed for its suitability to Matabeleland interests, because under the current regime where the basis of political moral authority is Shona creed Matabeleland is enslaved. The public votes to install representatives who appropriate power transferred to them by the public to do as they please for the next 5 years.

We want to reclaim power appropriated from Matabeleland communities by the ZANU PF cabal; we are aware power taken from the people by the elite is never returned voluntarily, we need to fight for it. Start by rejecting mainstream Zimbabwe politics and its agenda of suppressing our norms and values and replacing them with Shona culture; let us install in positions of power locals who will genuinely represent our interests to parliament. This is by no means an impossible task, the late Sidney Malunga, as one example of many Matabeleland heroes and heroines who successfully represented our interests despite the barriers imposed by the state.  

An even more important political action for Matabeleland would be opening the political space for youth participation. The ZANU PF cult has denied and restricted the youth the right to access power; young people are not addressing young people’s challenges of the day and not finding solutions for the future; they have never played an active decision-making role in society, but for their physical strength they are powerful tools used by the physically weak elderly ZANU PF cabal to abuse citizens to maintain the status quo.

Now the next step is how to use the power in our hands. Obtaining power would be a good thing if we could also buy the time to use it effectively: but as a rule, obtaining political power is mistaken for the appropriation of its contents. Investing in political education for our citizens would be invaluable if they are to play a vital oversight role and provide an effective critique of their local leadership and improve accountability to help local institutions do what they are set up to do.

In conclusion, we must reflect in our political systems and institutions that we are a multicultural society in which people do not reject the culture of others whose culture is distant from theirs but are prepared to listen, to see, to dialogue, to accept and to respect the other’s culture without compromising their own. Space must be created for all to be themselves, and our systems must be inclusive enough for individuals and communities to see some worth in the nation so much that they willingly subordinate their interests for the benefit of the nation.



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