Ethno-nationalism remains a huge problem in Zimbabwean society with particularly devastating outcomes for Mthwakazi and ethnic Ndebele people yet many ethnic Shona people are quick to dismiss it, even going to the extent of accusing victims of being tribalists themselves.
We have two major ways in which people are fooled. One is to believe what is not true; the other is to refuse to believe what is true. We have those imbeciles who believe Gukurahundi was a legitimate security act by a government fighting dissidents and then we have fools who believe Gukurahundi was ‘a moment of madness‘.
It is a big step for President Emmerson Mnangagwa to declare that his government will not ignore Gukurahundi. Denial has been the only chosen path for ZANU PF. We have witnessed the damaging political effects of denying justice to Mthwakazi citizens, enforcing poverty and dehumanising Matabeleland people while perpetuating ignorance that feeds into Mashonaland delusions of supremacy; coexistence has been impossible.
What we are witnessing in Zimbabwe is the maturation and expansion, in real terms, of a polarised political space first construed by ZANU in 1963, put to paper in its 1979 Grand Plan White Paper and effected from 1980. This is a space whose primary ideological concern is the security and safety of ethnic Shona people while increasing the vulnerability of other ethnic groups with the expectation of their eventual annihilation.
As the pro-Mthwakazi agenda enters its new season, we need to redefine how we fight our battles. We must accept now that dictating ‘solutions’ to people has not worked. The reason is most probable that we are ‘solving’ problems that are essentially of politicians’ imagination and not what the public identifies as their problems. Worse still, we are employing exclusionary tactics that are leaving our society more vulnerable to fragility and conflict.
If pro-Mthwakazi groups are true to their word that they have a problem with the Zimbabwean politics, they should be sharply deviating from Zimbabwean political norms founded on tribalism. Our primary goal is political and economic safety and security for all, and our experience of Zimbabwean politics has taught us that tribalism is contraindicated in that.