ZIMBABWEAN politics has since December 1987 when PF Zapu and Zanu PF signed the Unity Accord been riddled with ethnic balancing in the corridors of power.
The accord was aimed at ensuring peace and stability in the country after civil disturbances in Matabeleland and Midlands provinces after independence from colonial rule in 1980.
It was not peace, stability, and tranquility alone which were the major objectives of the pact, but to a larger extent, the issue of equitable development, given that PF Zapu represented the greater Matabeleland and Midlands regions and Zanu PF the Mashonaland provinces.
But over the years most parts not effectively represented in the top echelons of power have remained relatively less developed, including Matabeleland. Road networks and other infrastructural developments in Matabeleland have largely remained the same as they were at the attainment of independence.
The lifestyle of dwellers in the two provinces (Matabeleland North and South) has remained largely unchanged, with infrastructure such as dams, schools, clinics, remaining in their old state.
Matabeleland Zambezi Water Project (MZWP) remains another pipe-dream despite the project having been mooted in 1912.
Prospects of the project taking off the ground continue to dwindle further given that funds for the project, like many other project in the country, continue to be scarce.
An array of examples can be cited that point to the imbalance, in developmental terms, that has been witnessed since the attainment of independence.
Analysts have said lack of development in the province should be blamed on the fact that very few politicians from the two Matabeleland provinces have been appointed to substantive ministerial posts, with most of them being forced to take up deputy ministerial appointments.
Cabinet ministers work hard, including at times, using their political muscle to ensure that development gets to their areas.
Some of the water projects mooted way after the MZWP have taken off the ground and have been providing water to the dwellers in those parts of the country.
Eldred Masunungure, a political science lecturer at the University of Zimbabwe said while the Unity Accord managed to bring peace in the Matabeleland provinces which had been hit by dissident activities, there were problems with other aspects of the accord that needed to be attended to.
“The Unity Accord was an elite pact between politicians in PF Zapu and Zanu PF. It brought an end to political disturbances that had rocked the Matabeleland and Midlands provinces.
“PF Zapu officials benefited from the pact but the effects of that pact are yet to transcend to the generality of the people in Matabeleland,” he said.
He added: “Matabeleland is still lagging behind and these are the issues that make the people in these provinces feel they are not part and parcel of the unity accord.”
Masunungure said the proposal by some politicians to have a rotational presidency was not practical as there was bound to be resistance from those that have benefited from the current political processes.
Sikhanyiso Ndlovu, information and publicity minister, blamed the lack of development in the Matabeleland provinces on some officials who sit back and wait to be given things by central government.
Said Ndlovu: “If you look at the other parts of the country, they are developed because people there are proactive.
“They approach the minister of finance and give him their plans for their provinces.
“Some of us sit back and wait for funds to be released from central government,” said Ndlovu.
“The problem therefore is that government will not allocate funds for a project that has not been advocated and lobbied for. There is need for people in the provinces to reach out so that the government realises the need for development of their provinces,” he added.
He said the issue of rotating the presidency could only be discussed in the confines of the Zanu PF congresses and annual conferences, as it was a constitutional matter that needed to be discussed first at party level.
“Anyone who has a strong feeling towards the rotation of the presidency from one province to the other so as to realise the development as suggested should put the proposals in writing and they will be discussed at the level of the party congress. That person should provide strong arguments on the issue and not just waste people’s time with baseless arguments,” he said.
By Nkululeko Sibanda