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Zimbabwe at 36: Broken dreams and despair

“Men make their own history, but they do not make it just as they please; they do not make it under circumstances chosen by themselves, but under circumstances directly encountered, given and transmitted from the past. The tradition of all the dead generations weighs like a nightmare on the brain of the living.” (Karl Marx)

By Vince Musewe

On April 18, 1980 — 36 years ago — we all vividly remember the euphoria of political independence as we celebrated what we thought would be our total freedom.

Vince Musewe
Vince Musewe

We celebrated what we naively presumed was the birth of a new democratic nation, underpinned by the respect of our human rights and the freedom for us as blacks, who had suffered under the yoke of racial discrimination from a white minority in our own country, to pursue our ambitions without limit and be the masters of our own destiny.

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It was the best of times and yet it was to be the beginning of a long, arduous and brutal journey which has taken us deep into hopelessness and despair today as we imagine what could have been. If only we knew then what we know now.

Zimbabwe is a disgrace and an embarrassment. It is now a country where millions have left in dismay as they sought to chase their dreams elsewhere. It is a country where millions are jobless, where hunger, disease and poverty are common as if we committed an unforgivable sin.

Our so-called liberators have become the chief architects of poverty and oppression. It is the worst of times as we have become what we feared most — poor and hopelessly hopeful yet tyranny reigns in our midst.

Maybe, yes, we committed an unforgivable sin by trusting a man to create the future we naively imagined. Our country has regressed and has been underdeveloped by Zanu PF as we watch. Our resources have been raped and continue to be plundered by those who claim to have liberated us.

It is indeed the worst of times as we have suffered a selfish uncaring man and his coterie of praise singers and cowards who have stolen, cheated, abducted and even killed to remain in power. That is unforgivable.

We Zimbabweans must, however, take responsibility for what we have been party to. Through our cowardice and inaction, we have accepted that we are second class citizens in our own country once more. We have all accepted to be victims of President Robert Mugabe’s unbridled ambition for power at all costs without any responsibility.

But despite all this, we must still believe that Zimbabwe can rise again.

Zimbabwe has all it needs for us to rekindle and rebuild our dreams and aspirations which we once had in 1980.

We should, therefore, rather use this time to reflect and re-energise ourselves for another fight for our freedom, a new revolution to create a new Zimbabwe. One thing we must know is that freedom is never voluntarily given by any dictator, but must be demanded by the oppressed.

Freedom also has a price and our unwillingness to pay that price will continue to arrest our potential and what we can become.

The choice is ours to make.

The facts are clear: Mugabe should never have been given the responsibility to lead Zimbabwe in the first place.

It was an accident of history which has certainly cost us so much and taken our country backwards.

However, our regrets will not change anything. We need to pick ourselves up by the boot straps and start all over again.

The Independence Day speech by Mugabe proves to us once more that he is no longer in touch with reality. Anyone who believes or insists that the economy is on the mend needs help.

This is the issue we have with Zanu PF as they continue to manufacture myths and lies and insult our intelligence. In my books, whoever wrote that speech should be fired.

I do not believe that the majority of Zanu PF members are actually happy with the status quo if they have any conscience at all. They are caught is spider’s web of lies and deception. Those who want Mugabe to stay post-2018 are really a bunch of thieves and charlatans who fear exposure if he loses power.

Their continued support for him is not that they love and respect him. It is not best for the country, but best to immunise themselves from the inevitable consequences of their plunder while hiding under the skirt of a dictator. When he goes, they shall surely be called to account.

Let us, therefore, commit ourselves to work together and ensure that this is the last Independence Day under a Mugabe leadership so that we can begin the hard work ahead of us of creating an inclusive democracy through coalition politics. We have to use a new formula of political power because whatever we have done to date has not worked. Look at where we are.

Zimbabwe can indeed rise again, but that is really up to us. Another Zimbabwe is possible.

 Vince Musewe is an economist and author based in Harare. He is also secretary for finance and economic affairs for PDP. You can contact him on [email protected] He writes in his personal capacity.