Friday, October 28, 2005

Why some in the MDC are in favor of the elections

I've been involved in an interesting discussion (read comments) about why any Zimbabwean would want to involve themselves in Zimbabwe's "flawed electoral system. The following is an amalgam of my remarks there. If you want, read this first.

The Ndebele, have been intetionally and consistently marginalized by Mugabe since independence. Remember the Gukurahunde? (This was the brutal massacre of Ndebeles post independence carried out by the infamous Five Brigade.) For five years these people, my people, were heartlessly murdered forcing them into political soltitude. Need I say more?

Since then, ZANU-PF has kept a steady stream of Ndebele puppets in it's ranks to pacify the potentially mutinous southern half of the country. But this hasn't given the people any representational access to the government. So both Matebeleland provinces have become the least developed regions of the country. If you've been anywhere beyond Bulawayo, you know what I'm talking about.

Make no mistake, the people have seen right through this ZANU charade and have harbored growing aspirations for true representation in government. In a real sense Zimabwe's short lived independence is yet to come for some of us, that is.

This very fact is the reason why the MDC swept all the parliamentary seats in both Matebeleland provinces (even in the flawed March parliamentaries!)This is why they (the Ndebele) voted that turncoat, Jonathan Moyo, into parliament. Bad as he'd been at least he brought banks, electricity, and roads right to center of their long forgotten hinterland.

Hence again these people have high hopes for the senate candidates. We the people would rather take a shot with people we trust and know will voice our concerns (which has never happened before) albeit in a flawed, nay, biased election. Even if only one of our representatives is voted into senate, at least we'll have someone that really represents us--one of the very few since 1980.

Let me remind you that we the people realize that just folding over and admitting defeat is tantamount to voluntarily returning to those days were our voice and disparity were muted by the Mugabe regime. We can't do that. We will never go back to that. Our voices and concerns shall be heard.

It might be ok from your vantage point to wait for democracy to descend on us before we agree to participate in an election, but we can't wait. We know and are going to abide by that famed principle that freedom/democracy is never voluntarily given by an oppressor, it must be forcefully taken.

To me (and off course the Ndebele too), democracy is not a utopian ideology upon which we wait for the mitigation of our present circumstance. No, Zimbabwean democracy is about survival. It's about improving the way we've done life for years, and it's about improving it now. It is the difference between who gets food aid in a country ravaged by famine and who doesn't. In fact it is the difference between life and death for many.

Notice I said that the hope I'm talking about is about finally realizing Zimbabwe's independence for some. It's not even about getting Mugabe out of there, these people just want to catch up with the rest of the country.

It is wildly inaccurate to say that "90% of the country want Mugabe out." Again, in an idealistic vacuum this would be nice. In Zimbabwe reality dictates otherwise. There's an undeniable "mutuality" between ZANU-PF and much of the country.

Most people look at the government and see their leaders; people who come from the same places they do and who, in a sense, represent them. And in a way, this idea that these are "our leaders" has become Mugabe's surety. Many Zimbabweans are reluctant to remove Mugabe & Co. because they are not "they" per se: they are part of "us." I posit that to many a lay Zimbo, "Mugabe is a Zimbabwean just like me." Given in shona,"mwana wevhu seni." Hence removing him would essentially be confirmation that "we" cannot lead ourselves; a deeply ironic self fulfilling fallacy.

This is true for most Zimbabweans, but not the marginilized (and even at times maligned) Ndebele. See, these people haven't had leaders who are "our leaders" to them. Mugabe and his mostly Shona allies (and even some Ndebele stooges) remain to these people; "their leaders." I'm not trying to stoke the tribal tensions here. I'm exposing the deep seated, justified excitement that (mainly the Ndebele in the MDC) have in the opportunities of the senate.

Ethnicity does matter. And yes while I may entertain the idea that "we've all suffered," it is true that some have suffered more than others. The senate presents an opportunity to gain lost ground for some however flawed may seem.

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