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Zimbabwe must give Matebeleland a chance to manage own affairs

10 Jan 2021 at 07:55hrs | Views
The politics of Matabeleland has been in the eye of a storm for a very long time. The Zanu-PF government, opposition parties and civic society groups have always claimed to serve the interests of the people of Matabeleland, yet the region remains underdeveloped and marginalised. So many development projects lie unfinished even though they have been allocated funds in the national budget. A case in point is the Zambezi water project incorporating the Gwayi-Shangani dam project and the Gwanda-Maphisa road which received funds for its construction years ago but to date, the project remains unfinished. The people of Matabeleland have now lost faith in both the government and opposition in as far as their developmental, economic and social expectations are concerned. A totally different political approach is required, that will bring together the people of Matabeleland in order to achieve more for the benefit of the region.

We have successfully put the year 2020 behind us in the different forums, discussions, events and on various intellectual debate platforms. What dominated the conversations on various platforms was consistent calls for a united Matabeleland, working together as a collective to achieve political and economic prosperity. However, we must further apply our minds and critical reasoning techniques on a number of key questions, such as the state of Matabeleland politics and the future of Matabeleland in the body politics of Zimbabwe in light of various calls for secession, restoration, independence and devolution. What has further complicated the Matabeleland question and crisis is the emergence of numerous conventional and non-conventional political and social movements, most of them claiming to represent the interests of the people of Matabeleland.
Role of the State in the Matabeleland crisis

Since independence in 1980, successive Zanu-PF governments have made concerted efforts to destabilise Matabeleland as they adopted both overt and covert policies of marginalisation based on tribal identity. Consequently, numerous calamitous events took place that undoubtedly changed the politics of Zimbabwe forever. An attempt was made to crush opposition parties, in particular Zapu in order to pave way for the establishment of a one-party state and further consolidate the creation of a tribalistic state which still exists after 40 years of independence. Zanu-PF government's determination and resolve to create tribal dominance by one tribe over other tribes ultimately led to the infamous Gukurahundi genocide, arbitrary arrests, disappearances and institutionalised racial and tribal disempowerment of the so-called minority groups. The attributed measures and tribalistic strategies are embedded in various structures of government including the military, police, prisons, parastatals and other commercial enterprises where management positions, employment and deployment is a preserve of the people of Shona extraction. Similarly, business opportunities are afforded to those with Zanu-PF connections, again deliberately excluding the periphery who continuously miss out on various black empowerment programmes and schemes funded by taxpayers' monies.

Role of opposition parties and civic society in the Matabeleland crisis

More often than not, Matabeleland provinces are mostly remembered and recognised when it's time for elections and political parties are canvassing for electoral votes. Once elections have come and gone, the region finds itself abandoned politically and economically as victorious political parties take the Matabeleland votes to help develop other regions. A worrying trend is the use of the Matabeleland region as a political launching ground for new political parties. Historically, most political movements and parties were launched or formed in Matabeleland, a development that we continue to witness in today's political dispensation. In other words, Matabeleland is largely viewed as a political playing field that political movements and parties will find appropriate to launch their political careers, not for the benefit of the people, but for their selfish agendas. Equally, there are some sections of civic society that purport to represent the interests of the people of Matabeleland yet they collaborate with the Zanu-PF government to undermine the interests of the region and victims of human rights abuses. Probably, this phenomenon explains certain dynamics in the Matabeleland region that may need introspection in another day and conversation.

Accordingly, many political parties have misread the Matabeleland politics as they have dismally failed to win seats in the previous general elections. What ought to be addressed is the political view that portrays the people of Matabeleland as lacking leadership, political fibre, stamina and devoid of a political vision that embraces everyone in theregion.Certainly,thatperceptionmustbe crushed and thrown into the dust bin of oldfashioned politics. There's no doubt that the people of Matabeleland are craving for their own homegrown political leaders driven by a non-tribalistic, non-sexist, non-racial, development-oriented and inclusive ideology. Sadly, many opposition parties tend to misinterpret the mood of the people of Matabeleland, hence their failure to unify the people and win votes. The historically known Matabeleland voting bloc which existed during the leadership of the late Dr Joshua Nkomo and Zapu has since diminished. As things stand now, there's no single dominant local political party that enjoys overwhelming support of the people in the region resulting in the parliamentary and local authority seats being won by Zanu-PF and MDC, surely, a political development which must be reversed if Matabeleland dreams of political success and economic prosperity are to be fulfilled. Therefore, the battle to emancipate the people of Matabeleland socially, culturally and economically begins by winning the right to represent our people in the national parliament and local authorities.

Role of the people of Matabeleland in the Matabeleland crisis

The political polarisation and fragmentation has somehow destroyed the spirit of unity, oneness, pride and collectivism that has been the hallmark of the success of the Matabeles in their life struggles. Numerous deadly battles were fought in the past in which the Matabeleland warriors (lmpis) and Zipra were victorious against their enemies in their respective encounters. This was made possible and easily achievable because of unity of purpose that was embedded in the region and the entire population
in particular. The existing divergent political and social views and discord among the Mthwakazi people is a worrying factor and retrogressive. Our failure to agree on the best foot forward politically and economically is of grave concern. Divergent political ideologies though allowed, healthy and democratic, seem to work against our collective objectives and tend to frustrate our common objective of getting the Matabeleland region working again.

Our position going forward

The UMD acknowledges that Zimbabwe is a sovereign state whose independence came as a result of a protracted armed struggle for independence against white minority rule which was spearheaded by Zapu and Zanu. We reaffirm our commitment to the development of Zimbabwe under a nationally devolved governance system, with autonomous provincial and local governments. Sadly, we note that at independence, Zimbabwe abandoned its liberation ethos, principles and values of unity, nation building, non-tribal, non-sexist and non-racial stance. Instead, the newly elected government pursued a discriminatory, vindictive and tribalistic agenda which systematically sidelined the so-called minority groups and opposition from the mainstream political and economic development programmes. Consequently, this apartheid policy has created serious political, social, cultural and economic imbalances that have inevitably radicalised and tribalised the Matabeleland politics. Despite the glaring evidence of the existence of a tribalistic state, UMD is committed towards building a nontribalist, non-discriminatory and prosperous Zimbabwe. We do not believe in reverse tribalism or racism, but equality and justice must prevail if we are to succeed in building a united and prosperous nation under a devolved governance system. UMD notes that Zimbabwe is a heterogeneous society, therefore, it is imperative that the country affords each province autonomy to govern their political and economic affairs. It is important to note that Devolution has been successful in promoting development in communities, managing and resolving conflicts in many countries. From a balcony view, one would conclude that devolution has succeeded to bring about unity and stability in countries like the United Kingdom, Republic of South Africa and Kenya, just to name but a few.

Our objective is to create a non-discriminatory society which advocates for devolution, development, equality and justice for all citizens. UMD reaffirms its willingness and readiness to unite or collaborate with other political parties that share the same principles and values envisaged in a devolved Zimbabwe.

Going forward, all political parties and civic society groups from this region must endeavour to regroup for the common good regardless of their ideological diversity that currently exists. Ultimately, the Matabeleland people must build a consensus on a number of key issues in order to move together united and as a collective. Therefore, the people of Matabeleland are enjoined by a historical and moral obligation to adopt a common vision, mission, objectives, principles and values in defence of their political and economic space, sovereignty, integrity and legacy.

Hon Lovemore Moyo UMD President

Source - the standard
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