We celebrate the 35th anniversary of our national independence.
We in the political leadership urge all Zimbabweans to take time and reflect on that brutal struggle in which the patriotic sons and daughters of this country paid the ultimate prize to secure political independence.
Indeed, that brutal epoch in the country’s history shows that Zimbabweans are a heroic people; a committed people prepared to water the sacred garden of their struggle with their own blood.
As the political leadership, we are proud of that moment of our history and we cherish the great sacrifice made by Zimbabweans to fight oppression and attain political independence.
Even as we wage the new war for true democracy and basic freedoms, we stand on the shoulders of the patriotic sons and daughters who perished and lost life and limb so that the whims and dreams of future generations could walk again.
The betrayal of the struggle
The only tragedy of our independence is that political independence came alone, unclothed by the basic freedoms that many had fought and died for. Basic freedoms of speech, association and assembly, and even the “one man one vote” for which so many died, were seriously betrayed by the new Zanu PF administration after the attainment of our independence.
The colonial political administration was replaced by an equally oppressive indigenous administration allergic to difference and freedom of political thought.
Where your skin colour mattered, your political card began to matter while the “chef” culture slowly substituted the “baas” culture that was the hallmark of the colonial administration.
While there were notable gains in health, education and social services in the early years of independence, we have seen the erosion of all gains by the new culture of misgovernance, incompetence, clientelism and patronage.
In short, Zanu PF has betrayed the values and essence of the liberation struggle, with thousands of war veterans being targets for sustained political attack, victimization, exclusion and wanton physical and psychological violence.
The spirit of liberation has been betrayed.
Some of our former liberators have become our tormentors while we in political leadership have taken up the new national mandate to complete the unfinished business of the liberation struggle.
Completing the unfinished business
We are leaders of a post-liberation political discourse that pledges to complete the people’s struggle by attaining true individual freedoms and the prosperity of the ordinary citizen.
As evidenced by the era of the inclusive government, Zimbabweans appreciated the opposition’s capacity to govern and make life bearably easier for the ordinary people.
Our commitment to good governance was seen in our successful push for a new, democratic Constitution when Zimbabweans made a new charter for themselves expressing how they want to be governed.
All the basic freedoms that the people fought for, which had been emasculated by Zanu PF over the years, are now enshrined in a Constitution written by Zimbabweans themselves. This must have been the true meaning of independence, the sovereign right of a people to determine how they want to be governed. Over three million Zimbabweans endorsed that new people’s charter in a referendum in May, 2013.
The tragedy is that we have a regime standing in the way of the implementation of the people’s sovereign will as expressed in a Constitution the people wrote for themselves. Zanu PF, as a regime of impediment and repression, is refusing to implement the Constitution and even threatening to amend it through a stolen majority in Parliament.
Zimbabweans must say no to this brazen threat by the regime of thugs and kleptocrats. Zimbabweans fought for their independence and must now fight for the implementation of our Constitution that was overwhelmingly endorsed by the people.
This Independence Day is a proper time to reflect on whether we must continue on this ruinous path of collective national destitution.
It is to time to reflect on whether we toiled and fought for our country so as to live in this sorry state. And to reflect on whether we fought for the vote so it could be stolen again as reflected by the consistent subversion of the people’s will in our national elections?
You look at all those millions on the street-side in our cities, towns and villages vending to fend for a living for their families and you ask yourself, is this real independence?
The millions of our children now all over the world in search of opportunities, is that real independence?
Did we fight for the freedom to flee our country and seek asylum in the Diaspora?
The freedom fighters themselves, the ex-detainees, our mothers and fathers, the mujibhas and chimbwidos and all those who helped in cash or in kind during the liberation struggle still have the lingering question, Is this the independence we were yearning for?
This question remains unanswered.
Did we fight for the freedom to flee our country to become victims of xenophobic attacks in neighboring countries?
All those thousands who were brutally murdered; the women who were raped and abused; did they fight for freedom in order to be abused?
All those Zimbabweans suffering and wondering where the proceeds of the country’s diamonds, and minerals generally, went to, did they fight a whole war to benefit a few in the top echelons of the Zanu PF regime?
Did we fight so that our children could seek education and health care in ill-funded and ill-equipped hospitals and schools while the chefs use our taxes to fund their treatment and the education of their children abroad?
As we reflect on our struggle as a people and the current sorry national predicament, we must certainly conclude that the solution lies in none but ourselves.
Just as we fought a brutal and protracted struggle against repression, so too must we always be ready to redeem ourselves from our current predicament of penury, poverty and deprivation.
Independence is not enough without freedoms and prosperity and we must be ready to pay the ultimate price once again to save ourselves.
Oh, yes, we are a heroic people and we can do it again. We are a nation of heroes and heroines and we have always obliged when action beckons, as it is doing now.
Happy Independence day, Zimbabwe!
God bless Zimbabwe!
Dr. Morgan Tsvangirai (MDC)………………………………..
Dr. Simba Makoni (MKD)……………………………………..
Dr. Dumiso Dabengwa (ZAPU)…………………………………
Prof. Lovemore Madhuku (NCA)……………………………………