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The Mthwakazi Thought on Governance - Mthwakazi Forum with Mzelikahle

22 Jan 2018 at 13:00hrs | Views
There are many and varied voices that come out of Matabeleland and Midlands describing many activities that are attributed to Mthwakazi. Many of these voices sound opposed to each other, and even sound confused at times. Much of the voices even sound like an expression of mere disdain for everything that is the social fabric of the Eastern part of the country. In this rambling, there is very little logical sense that can be deduced except the show of defiance between the two peoples. By "two peoples" I am referring to two distinct styles of governance thought and those who subscribe to it, NOT tribes of peoples. Well, I have to point out this very clearly because some people have very little abilities for analysis hence they find comfort in reducing any discourse on governance to mere tribalism. This is very unfortunate. Nonetheless, the first group subscribes to a unitary governance thought expressed by the current style of government that has root in the north-east of the country. The second group subscribes to a confederate union governance thought expressed in much of Mthwakazi discourse and has root in the south-west of the country. This dichotomy has been in existence well before the attainment of the Zimbabwean independence, and is expressed in many varied political parties and apolitical organisations.

The unitary thought and style of governance, espoused by the current government, is a piece that is adopted from the Maoist thought of China. The whole "son of the soil" dictum is adopted from the Chinese method. It is a fact that these ideas brought success to China, of course with a number of reforms, however, the same concepts have failed to bring any success and satisfaction to Zimbabwe for more than 37 years. The simplest observable point is that Zimbabwe is not China, and we have different histories therefore we view the world differently. For this reason, the current government, in its old form and indeed in new form, continues to struggle in squaring this circle due to the misfit of Maoist theories in Zimbabwe. Even the much vaunted Command Agriculture, is simply a Maoist thought of the 1970s and China had to drift away from it. One can only come to a conclusion that the Command Agriculture thought will not work in Zimbabwe, as much as it failed in China. This unitary style of governance is espoused by those who esteem Marxist theories and Leninism. Yes, these ideas have found a place in the hearts of those participating in the governance of Zimbabwe today, opposition parties and ruling party alike.

In contrast, the Mthwakazi thought on governance espouses a confederate union of participating states in a symbiotic relationship. This piece is adopted from King Mzilikazi's style of governance. This style of governance has history of success in this plateu between Zambezi and Limpopo and its proponents are confident that given an opportunity, this style of governance would produce great successes, both in terms of social satisfaction and economic growth. The truth of the matter, though, is that we are comparing two systems that existed in two different times. Such a comparison may not always end with an analysis of data from emperical assessments, rather it would end with a logical treatise on the matter. In this article therefore, I shall expound on the logic of these two different governance styles.

Historically, under King Mzilikazi, different Chiefs had control of their regions, hereinafter referred to as states. In these states, a chief could call to session an assembly called Umkhandlo weNduna. I refer to this local assembly as a Local State Assembly. Selected members of society in that particular state would attend the Local State Assembly and deliberate on matters for that local state. The matters ranged from economic matters, health matters, security matters, agricultural matters, et cetera. The only limitation the Local State Assembly had was that it could not declare and prosecute a war. However, the training of impis and regiments were conducted and upon completion had to swear allegiance to the King. All local states, under their chiefs, had these deliberatory organs and determined their economic competency. With this historic knowledge, the people who are engaged in the Mthwakazi discourse are simply bringing to fore the fact that these local states were economically competent because they were able to coordinate economic activities. This means tax collected (in history books they call it "tributes", but its tax really) would be abundant, and other economic surpluses would be turned over to the union structures.

Fast forward to Zimbabwe today, all economic activities are coordinated from a central position. All discussions on policy and implementation of any policy are conducted in one central point. The limitation to this approach is that fine grain details that are specific to local problems are always overlooked. Over time, all local entities begin to sit idle like spectators and await instruction from the central point. This also means that tax (tributaries, if you like) for collection would be reduced, and the major expenditure would become the maintainance of the government itself. No wonder why the economic minister in Zimbabwe has been struggling with the national budget stating that national spending is skewed towards government recurrent expenditure. Well, to a Mthwakazi Analyst, that complaint is zany and inherent in a unitary system. If the Zimbabwe government were to accept the smarts of Mzilikazi's style of governance, then they would reduce government recurrent expenditure greatly, and it would fall on local state governments. These local state governments would be able to manage their expenditures because they have economic activities from which they can locally derive revenue. Further, employment would provide competitive remuneration. Consider a teacher, for example, employed by some local state, say State A. If the remuneration offered by State A is too low, then this teacher would have the option to scout for employment in State B, still in the same country remember. State A would realise that it is losing teachers to other States due to poor remuneration, therefore it will be forced to look into the matter and correct the conditions of employment, in order to attract and retain teachers in its state. This logic is equally true for all other areas of investment and management. You see, the local states begin to be competitive among themselves in the economic field, in order to maintain economic benefits.

In contrast to this Mthwakazi thought, Zimbabwe runs a unitary system that has provinces. A province has no pressure to do anything except perhaps to support one party or the other. All teachers in the province are paid for by the unitary government, all police paid for, everything really. You see, a province has no responsibility to raise revenue, and yet it is funded by the unitary government. What does it mean? It means, the government has too much on its hands. It can not look into, nor fund, science works and technology development. Why? Because all its money is tied up in recurrent expenditure. You see!

For the record, let me make it clear that in this Mthwakazi thought, the Security aparatus would remain under a unitary system. This is because of the need to avoid mutiny and civil wars. Even so, only the critical elements would be under this unitary system, for example the Army, and the Intelligence. The police service, the prisons and correctional services, and the legal system, would be run using a hybrid approach. For example, with police service - major matters like armed robberies are to be handled by the national (union) police service, and minor matters like attending to traffic policing would be handled by local states. The prisons and correctional services would adopt a similar hybrid structure, where high profile inmates are handled by national (union) services, and low profile inmates are handled by local state services. The same would apply to the legal system, that is, major cases are handled by national (union) courts, and minor cases are handled by local state courts. Well, the distinction of what is major, and what is minor is the job of parliamentarians! This way the national government does not have to feed every mouth that enters its prisons, pay for every public attorney that represents the accused, pay for every officer that checks licences on the road. Hence the cost is reduced on government's shoulders and yet the intended State services are delivered to the public.

In terms of companies and other legal persons, they would have to follow the same hybrid approach in registration and operations in local states. Small to medium enterprises are to be registered in local states where they are present, and large organisations will have to register nationally (at union level). This way, the smaller organisations would deal with the requirements of a closer governing body, meaning their challenges and constraints can easily be observed by the local governing body, which would thereby modify regulations to suit and stimulate these SMEs. If the regulations are dictated from a unitary position that is detached from the SMEs on the ground, of course the regulations will not achieve a stimulatory impact on the SMEs. The SMEs will simply die a natural death. If you doubt it, just assess the SMEs in Zimbabwe. I have heard some economists saying most economic activities are now informal. What nonsense is that? There is no one running a shoe factory manufacturing shop, making revenue of USD 10000 per month and is informal. The informal players they are talking about are people selling cellphone juice cards by the street corner, perhaps some carpenters making up wardrobes and kitchen units in Makokoba, and the like! Gentlemen, these sort of informal traders are barely managing to make enough for their dinner tables, and family. What would have happened for a revenue authority to turn to such sprat? What happened to the bream and other bigger fish? The truth is that they have been finished, and now the revenue authority has to turn to scrounging to support the high bill of expenditure for the slumbering provinces, and a deck of authorities and officers!

In conlusion, it is clear that the Mthwakazi question is not a tribal question. It is a question of style of governance. Not the dictatorship versus democracy discourse, rather a question of euphuism of governance. There is something that makes the French, french. What is it? Something that makes the Germans, german. What is it? You see, it is in the style not in the quantity nor existence of something. Look at German engineering, for the same product, one sees the difference in quality, not nationality (not tribe!). Similarly, to a Mthwakazian in this discourse, it is not about a tribe whence one comes, nor their language. It is about the style of governance to which one subscribes that brings up this discourse on Mthwakazi.

Kernan Mzelikahle is an apolitical analyst, and may be contacted by cellphone on 0775195334, or by email on, twitter handle is @Mzelikahle. This article and others like it may be found on Mthwakazi Forum website:

Source - Kernan Mzelikahle
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