The Unending Quest for Mthwakazi: A Nation without a State

The Unending Quest for Mthwakazi: A Nation without a State
Published: 02 March 2017 | by Dr Mpiyesizwe Churchill Guduza

INKUNZI SERIES: DISCUSSION PAPER 3: The Right to Reply to: Michael Mhlanga

1st March 2017

1. Introduction

This paper is primarily a response to an article that appeared on the Sunday News Online of Zimbabwe on the 26th February 2017.  The article (Part 1) was written by a certain Michael Mhlanga, whose theme is basically an attack on what he/she calls ‘secessionists, royalists or restorationists’. In responding to the assertions and aspersions as articulated by Michael Mhalnga, this Inkunzi Series 3 will identify a multiplicity of components such as sovereignty, nationalism, territorial and economic ties, common language, culture and religion to vigorously challenge the thesis of this individual. 

2. Michael Mhlanga’s thesis

The main thesis of Michael Mhlanga (pardon me for want of the gender of this individual whether it’s a man or woman) is simply that the status quo of present-day Zimbabwe has to be embraced  at whatever human cost, in pursuit of course of what he recognises as Sabelo Gatsheni’s ‘’ontological density of blackness’. This ‘ontological density of blackness’ to this individual can only be achieved by embracing the ‘mental slavery’ and the ‘inferiority’ in which the people of Mthwakazi have been  subjected and transformed into for the past 36 years by Shona hegemony. We should not be concerned with this mental slavery, inferiority and our identity, he writes, but rather we should be concerned about our blackness such that we ought not to define ourselves vis a vis other national groupings or ethnicities. We should just accept our lot; accept our inferior and slavery conditions simply because it is cooler to be black than to contest political and philosophical existential imperatives.  

Writing for the Sunday News Online is synonymous with the express articulation of that mechanism’s doctrine. It cannot be any other way. After all terms of reference of such publications, must be followed to the letter, if only to ensure that the writer thereof affords to put food on the table. The differences that he cites among the political contenders in Mthwakazi cannot be used to justify the forced imposition of colonial boundaries on the people of Mthwakazi. Just like white people all over the world, the black people too are different with own unique characteristics of identity, culture, historical beginnings and so forth. Blackness cannot therefore be used as a justification of the rule by proxy of the Zimbabwean regime over the people of Mthwakazi.

3. The ‘discordant ethnic politics’

To refer to the political discourse of Mthwakazi  as ‘discordant ethnic politics’ and ‘stereotypically reactive’ is to embrace and celebrate the rule by conquest of Mthwakazi  by both Britain and its proxy Zimbabwe without any shame, and therefore pushing the boundaries of lack of objective analysis to determinism irrationality. Michael Mahlangu no doubt, an illiterate political clown of Zanu-PF, cannot hide under thin ice of analysis. Yes, an illiterate political clown who is determined to advance the politics of conquest and dominance at all cost, for as long as he/she gets his/her salary cheque at the end of it all. 

One wonders what exactly Michael Mhlanga is articulating when he states that ‘our political systems and economies are foreign dominated and it is an everyday task to remodel and discover ourselves as an independent governing people’. Unfortunately for him/her, the tables have turned for the better; the winds of change are with the people of Mthwakazi and they will overcome whatever it takes. Michael Mhlanga cannot just put all of us in a bundle and therefore infer that the people of Mthwakazi are ‘an independent governing people’ How on earth, does he/she get that? He/she cannot at the same time argue that because ‘our political systems are foreign dominated’ therefore the status quo is better left unchecked.

4. The interplay between ‘nation’ and ‘state’

What he/she must recognise is simply this: that his/her distortion of Gatsheni’s ‘ontological density of blackness’ nationalism has always been distinguished by a variety of forms which have equally been embraced by a variety of political consequences. This can be seen between the interplay of ‘nation’ and ‘state’. The fundamental distinction is between ‘national identity’ and ‘political autonomy’ and between ‘national integration’ and ‘political sovereignty’. It is these variables that define a sense of national identity, which in the developed world pre-dated the advent of the penetration and dominance of European colonialism in the whole of Africa. 

As such, national identity in the case of Africa became irreparably damaged and distorted such that self-consciousness of national identity and cultural integration were reversed by the consequences of imposed authority and imposed sovereignty. It is in this context that whereas Europe produced ‘nation states’, Africa under European colonialism and post colonialism thereof produced ‘state nations’. Michael (what a meaningless name in the context of Mthwakazi) cannot therefore equate his Zanu PF independent governing people with the subjugated people of Mthwakazi. We are also able to see through his defence of this status quo which he justifies by what he calls ‘when two cultures come into contact one assumes the higher level and the other lower level’ as his peculiar selective amnesia political discourse would determine.

What happened in Mthwakazi when she was annexed and forcibly incorporated into a unitary state with the state of Mashonaland is that, there was no meeting of cultures, but rather a brutal infusion of cultures!  Even with this brutal amalgamation, both these cultures have never, neither will they ever belong together, especially as they do not share any common traits such as common history, tradition, common set of customs and common destiny, language, language, religion or his distorted ‘ontological density of blackness’.

In the case of the original proxy of Britain, Rhodesia and its successor proxy Zimbabwe, the people of Mthwakazi and those of Mashonaland acquired their separate cultural integration long before the advent of white settler colonialism. It is as result of this reality that authority and sovereignty over these people was subsequently imposed thereafter.  It is therefore instructive that Michael Mhlanga (whoever he/she is) needs to recognise that a nation is not synonymous with the state. They do exist separately.  Whereas the Zanu PF regime refers to an existence of a ‘political legal entity’ the nation of Mthwakazi is primarily a ‘psycho-cultural’ entity that exists independently without a state. Mthwakazi is nation, whether Michael Mhlanga likes it or not, or what he/she calls it ‘dreams’, it does exist, it cannot be wished away by your any kind of dreams.

Zimbabwe cannot therefore be defined as a nation state and to use Michael Mhlanga’s own misleading jargon as a state of ‘an independent governing people’. It is only when the two coincide; when the boundaries of the state are exactly the same with those of the nation that one could define 
Zimbabwe as a ‘nation state’. Zimbabwe is a ‘state nation’ because the state together with its political authority and sovereignty was imposed without the consent of the people of Mthwakazi. 

The national and cultural consciousness of the people of Mthwakazi preceded the imposition of colonial boundaries and by extension the granting of the Rule by Conquest Instrument to Zimbabwe, a proxy of Britain. Michael Mhlanga can only confuse some of the people and not all the people all the time. As a mouth piece of  his/her masters, they may like his/her contention that Mthwakazi is in his/her ‘dreams’, but to most of us it is a reality, supported by irrefutable historical evidence of existence,  which only remains to be achieved as we march forward with the restoration agenda. Michael Mhlanga would do more for his/her Zanu PF if he/she came out in the open as an activist spreading the gospel of the Grand Plan rather than hiding under the shade of a journalist. 

He/she further states also that if clashes within the ‘same ethnic group are this rampant at such a micro-scale we very much doubt if they can succeed to co-exist in Mthwakazi state, it’s clear that we would have decentralised and devolved conflict’. Why must this kind of observation be peculiar only in relation to the people of Mthwakazi? It is not the case that his/her observation is similarly applicable to his/her Zanu-PF, where there is a multiplicity of splits and raging debates within Zanu PF with its belligerents charting different paths from one another. Furthermore how many political formations are in Mashonaland contesting for the same political space of his/her country Zimbabwe? Is it not the case that Zimbabwe already has what he/she calls ‘decentralised and devolved conflict’ in all those political parties of Zimbabwe, which includes of course, Zanu-PF?

5. Divergent views

We are equally aware that the articulation of Michael Mhlanga’s argument in relation to the divergent views between the MLF and so-called MRP is primarily intended to reduce his/her vulnerability in this new situation, the vulnerability of his/her chefs/ rulers (call them whatever) who have continued to appeal to elusive state nationalism as the means of vitalizing and conserving the authority of their Zanu PF state. His/her assertion therefore, that says ‘the visible hatred between MLF and MRP leaves nothing to be questioned except confirming untrue stereotypes that Ndebele people are violent and devoid of civic reasoning’ is without any evidence.  Why not locate his/her argument within the resultant jurisdiction of his/her Zanu PF state which has been homogeneous in its application of violence to all the people of Mthwakazi? The reason of viewing the people of Mthwakazi with suspicion lies in his/her blindness in recognising that we in Mthwakazi have had no history of violence whatsoever amongst and within our different political groupings, but that such violence has been the daily bread and experience of all political formations in Mashonaland, with Zanu PF of course as the trainer and motivator of others such Swangirayi’s MDC and others.

It is unfortunate that when one is mandated to comment or write on behalf of their masters (as he/she clearly does) they are often blinded by the fact that each political grouping is different. Of course just as per his/her mandate he/she is quick to sow the seeds of confusion solely in order to confuse his/her readership. In terms of which, it is not true that talk of enemies. It is therefore important to spell out clearly for him/her wherein lay our differences. 

6. Reiterating differences

We have said that in view of the fact that the so-called MRP has become a competitor with Zanu PF and a myriad of other political formations in Zimbabwe contesting for political authority and power in Zimbabwe, these same political formations (MRP included) cannot therefore be said to be authentic organizations representing the people of Mthwakazi from a Restoration platform. But, rather that, they all belong together as political formations that swear allegiance to Zimbabwe. So it should not be that hard to understand this fact. MLF, a Liberation Movement, on the other hand, and consistent with our definition of what makes a ‘nation state’ and ‘state nation’ above, does not swear any allegiance to Zimbabwe and its systems and political activities including elections. MLF as a Liberation Movement represents a Nation (Mthwakazi) without a State currently, and is therefore seized with the achievement of the State of Mthwakazi outside the parameters and dictates of the colonizing state of Zimbabwe. It is not therefore what Michael says what we are, or what he wants to call us, but what we answer to, that matters most. 

It is therefore disingenuous for Michael Mhlanga to state that the ‘MLF and MRP are bound by the same principles of secession confused as cultural restoration’. There is a subtly irony and deliberate wretchedness in his/her argument. How on earth can or could the MLF foster a sense of common interest and common focus with Zimbabwean parties?  How can this be possible when the ingredients of national integration (common language, common values, common religion, territorial contiguity, communications media, common markets and Mthwakazi affinity) of the people of Mthwakazi are not only violated by external forces, but by those who purport to be part of Mthwakazi? 

We have thus equated the usurpation of the Mthwakazi identity by those masquerading as the people of Mthwakazi for what it is; the pursuit of advancing the national interest of Zimbabwe over those of Mthwakazi. This usurpation of the national interest of Mthwakazi to promote that of Zimbabwe is regarded by us as treasonous behaviour. This is a raging debate and not a violent encounter as he/she suggests in his/her article. He/she needs to look closer to his/her home in Harare or wherever, for a violent contestation as practiced, championed and prosecuted by Zanu-PF with its sister political formations in that country. He/she cannot therefore want to create what is not there in Mthwakazi, and by extension paint the MLF with a blood brush of Zanu-PF.

No one within the Mthwakazi school of thought has argued that the fall of the Mthwakazi state was caused by what Michael calls ‘the advent of a solid democracy in 1980’. Surely to even think that Zimbabwe has been a solid democracy since 1980 is to seek to emulate Goebbels’ spin doctoring during Hitler’s Nazi Germany. I shudder to think what is wrong with the analysis of this guy/lady. We do not need to be told about the annexation of Mthwakazi (and by the way not Ndebele state) because we know fully well that it was not in 1897 as per the claim by Michael Mhlanga.

7. Absurd propaganda/spin doctoring

It is absurd for Michael to reduce the existence and implementation of the Grand Plan to a ‘repetitive rhetoric’ since 1980 in the whole of Mthwakazi; as this constitutes an insult to our collective humanity and intelligence. The ignorance that Michael is demonstrating is even more appalling when he/she reduces the infliction of genocide and ethnic cleansing on the people of Mthwakazi by the Zanu PF regime as ‘civil unrest’. 

Is it any wonder, therefore that Michael sees nothing wrong with the tempering of Gukrahundi evidence by those engaging in burying the victims of Mthwakazi who were essentially exterminated from the face of this earth by his/her Zanu PF regime? Michael must be reminded that this is also a declared Zanu PF programme of intent, undertaking large scale Gukurahundi reburials as declared by Mphoko. Why couldn’t Michael call on the responsible party to these deaths to be accountable for its crimes against the people pf Matebeleland First before ensuring that they receive decent burials? Why must Michael hide under the notion that the victims of Gukurahundi ‘deserve such ritual respect’ when he/she has never called for this to be undertaken by the killers themselves (the Zanu PF regime of Robert Gabriel Mugabe), instead of justifying a programme by our erstwhile colleagues that is tempering with evidence to help Zanu PF of the hook for its crimes against humanity?

At any rate is it not normal procedure that such a process is undertaken by the authorities who must not only record the causes of deaths but must at the same time bring the perpetrators to justice? Why is Michael hell-bent on justifying something that is unheard of and unprecedented, not only in our culture but in any cultures across the world? Would it be wrong to think that Michael Mhlanga (probably not his/her real name) is nothing but a project of the Central Intelligence Organisation that is charged with sowing confusion and directionless within the people of Mthwakazi? Not, at all! Of course, he/she and his/her handlers are happy with this programme of tempering with Gukurahundi evidence and his/her party is already preparing for massive scale tempering with evidence with planned massive scale Gukurahundi reburials. MLF condemns these programmes, effected and proposed by whomsoever, in the strongest of terms possible.

8. Lack of legitimacy and sovereignty over the people of Mthwakazi

It was basically the lack of legitimacy and sovereignty in Mthwakazi by Zanu PF that led it to committing crimes against humanity. There was no ‘civil unrest’ but a spiral of killings against a defenceless population of Mthwakazi.  This act not only generated but increased the spiral of insecurity of the collective population of Mthwakazi. Under such a situation of anarchy, there can be no solution to this dilemma, as this dilemma is further exacerbated by the inflexible and devastating images of mayhem (genocide, ethnic cleansing, rape, torture, disappearances and so forth) that it continuously generate in the minds of the victims. 

In other words, no amount of articles and slogans in support of the Zanu PF state can convince the people of Mthwakazi to be anything else they are not. They can be Zimbabweans walking but not in their minds. Zimbabwean identity for millions of these people becomes or is in actual effect illusory and not real.  This reality challenges the main tenet of Michael that because it is an imposed unitary state system: therefore it is the dominant actor through the use of coercive force as an effective policy instrument. What Michael fails to grasp is that there are multiple channels of contact between the Mthwakazi communities which in turn generate distinctive political discourse processes, linkage strategies, agenda control and coalition building. 

This is why those who think the quest for the restoration of Mthwakazi equates to, dreaming (like Michael) are themselves dreamers in the first order. For the simple reason that there is virtually nothing that is undefeatable in this world, and this is the main reason why European colonialism was defeated, so too will the proxy colonialism of Zimbabwe. It will be overwhelmed in due course. This after all is a complexity characterised by complex inter-dependencies, involving multiple channels of existence, the absence of hierarchical structures, linkage strategies, agenda setting and minimal use of force. All this because of the technological innovations and dynamism that cannot be controlled any longer by the Zanu PF regime and its apologists like Michael Mhlanga. 

Today, the state nations such as Zimbabwe are also increasingly vulnerable in terms of transnational communication, economic constraints evidenced by the economic collapse of wretched Zimbabwe, the terms of access to multi-national, transnational organisations and oligopolies, and in the final analysis, military penetrability. It is critical to recognise that we do not need Zimbabwe to achieve international integration. This explains why Zimbabwe is an empty vessel without its chief architects and intelligentsia. In the case of Mthwakazi we don’t even have an infrastructure dependency on Zimbabwe. We have zero dependence on that country other than being inflicted with genocide, ethnic cleansing and the viral spread of the Grand Plan. There is virtually nothing that can keep us in that country of own will other than the diminishing use of Zanu PF force.   

9. Conclusion

With regard to what you termed misrepresentation by Sakhile Nkomo; we can only commend her for her insights and historical knowledge. She is correct to locate all the ethnic groups of Mthwakazi under the umbrella term, Ndebele.  For your benefit (Michael), the word "Ndebele" is an umbrella term which describes the composition of people from the historic Mthwakazi kingdoms of Mzilikazi and Lobengula, who speak the following languages in their native regions: Kalanga, Lozwi, Ndebele, Nguni, Nanzwa, Sotho, Tonga, Venda, Xosa and Zulu. It is important to note that these peoples are the original inhabitants in their respective regions. This was the case during King Mzilikazi's kingdom, King Lobengula's kingdom, the colonial era, and has been and still is the case since the last 36 years under the Zanu PF genocidal regime of Robert Gabriel Mugabe.  

Obviously, this definition will be something new to Michael as Zimbabwe was built on the basis of a real dream, and not something that can be traced anywhere historically, hence its continued demise from its formation in 1980 to this date, with nearly everyone (citizen and none citizens such as Mthwakazians) voting with their feet to seek survival elsewhere outside its imposed colonial boundaries. Those at the epicentre of this rot have themselves been reduced to robbery and all sorts of corrupt malpractices, such that there is hardly any individual wielding power in Zimbabwe, who is not a habitual thief. Have there been any benefits to Mthwakazi?  Not in a million years would any benefit accrue to the people of Mthwakazi. What then are the justifications of Mthwakazi remaining within the imposed unitary state that comprises Zimbabwe? No a single benefit – hence the winds of change are with us in an unstoppable fashion, in pursuit for the establishment of the Mthwakazi State that will be cemented concretely with the Mthwakazi Nation. 


- Source: MLF published by


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