You can run a misplaced campaign of your hatred for other nations to an obliging audience, but at the end of the day you cannot transpose your lack of ideas with hatred, you will still need good policies to address the problems faced by the nation, and you do not empower people by dehumanising others. Challenges are never addressed by policies based on a moral code calibrated to legitimise hatred and make communities receptive to hatred of other humans but by understanding and co-creating opportunities for self-sufficiency.
As a society we have a responsibility to maintain balance between fighting bullies and adopting policies that ensure we do not become bullies in turn. At the same time, we must not yield to an emerging culture of defensive self-censorship that sees a growing number of individuals in Matabeleland who are quick to “call out” or shame fellow citizens for daring to challenge institutional Shona tribalism and instead accuse concerned victims of tribalism of being tribalists.
Equally, bigotry must be condemned; any political platform that promotes dehumanisation of others is dangerous to humanity; we may, politically, be in total darkness but to burn other nations to see light does not bode well for the future. Any political strategy that attempts to build momentum by fracturing communities must be rejected.
The trouble with vindictive politicians is that they feel they are doing the nation a favour by putting up blinds so that we cannot see our enemies. They seem to think that one day people will look back and thank them for the protection against unfriendly nations. What they do not understand is that the perceived protection is nothing but just time the public spend hating others and plotting revenge instead of building life changing opportunities in our country.
Facing challenges is what politics is about, there will be opposition, obstacles, and enemies in any political journey, but to build many walls and less bridges in the face of our enemies does not guarantee our protection and safety; walls can become obstacles, limiting structures that block our access to opportunities to creative solutions to real issues and a hindrance to accessing lasting safety zones.
Indulging in vindictive politics is a cheap and unremarkable approach to dealing with political complexities of discrimination, deprivation, and favouritism; if the only time your political speeches attract applause from your audience is when you target certain population groups for abuse, review your broader political narrative and change. If what draws attention to your leadership is your hatred of other humans, you have a real problem and are certainly not the right leader for a community or nation like Matabeleland.
Creating a political safe zone for all is what will define progress in Matabeleland; that zone will be co-created by the public and political parties; the public has an obligation to reject emotionally charged political strategies that target specific population groups for abuse and attempt to create a moral code that celebrates hatred against other humans.
Political sophistication not opportunism is essential to address the challenges of political subjection facing our nation. The inclination to abusive rhetoric directed at certain population groups when the public expectation is for political leaders to conjure solutions is diversionary mediocrity. What we require are capable, level-headed leaders who can instinctively select multiple, correct interventions in complex scenarios where they are at risk of being overwhelmed by rapidly developing events.
There is no dispute that tribal supremacy is a foundation of politics in Zimbabwe; indeed, denying the presence of tribalism and hatred will be a political disservice. But we warn against a strategy founded on taking revenge lest we become the same monsters we are fighting. We stress the importance of focusing on economic resilience and a long-term reduction of excessive dependences on other societies for critical supplies.
We believe there is room for Matabeleland to take control of the politics and make mainstream Zimbabwe politics obsolete, but it will be important that we eliminate rigid and fixed views about the world, and create a spacious, flexible, and open view. Active critical reflection is necessary in our politics. We must try to re-evaluate our own values and experiences as they relate to our political goals and decisions. Political assumptions and theories must remain open to critique, and that requires huge investment in active research.
In conclusion, we want to emphasise our rejection of ethnic Shona supremacist policies which are a reality of mainstream Zimbabwe politics that, as intended, does not extend favour to Matabeleland; the politics at play is damaging to the whole country in that it has widened cracks between and within communities and across society. It is for this reason that we caution against any Matabeleland rebuilding exercise that embraces a political default of hatred. There is irrefutable evidence showing that a propensity for hatred has caused all sorts of problems in society but has not solved one yet.