By Luke Tamborinyoka
Today, we take a moment to reflect and salute the collective gallantry of the people of Zimbabwe who fought a tenacious struggle against racism and oppression to yield an independent, sovereign nation.
Today Zimbabwe is counted among the sovereign nations of the world, thanks to the patriotism of the sons and daughters of this land who waged a protracted liberation struggle. Some paid the ultimate price and selflessly irrigated our political independence with their precious blood.
It is sad though that today, Zimbabwe may be politically independent but the people are not free. It is tragic that in 1980, independence came alone, unclothed by the requisite freedoms and liberties that must underline such momentous achievements.
Today, we remain shackled to the plumbing depths of penury; unfree and unable to speak our minds in this supposedly independent country of our birth. Equally sad is that in May of 2013, Zimbabweans affirmed in a referendum a new Constitution ingrained with a broad Bill of Rights.
Sadly, Zimbabweans have struggled to enjoy those rights enshrined in a Constitution that they wrote themselves and overwhelmingly affirmed in a referendum. Instead of aligning the country’s laws to the supreme charter of the land, the regime has been desperate to tear asunder the people’s charter in a bid to entrench an imperial President.
We also note with sadness that central to the war of liberation was the war-cry of one man-one-vote, itself a sordid quest by every Zimbabwean not only to have a right to vote but more importantly to have a vote that counts.
Regrettably, Zimbabwe has been mired in a vicious cycle of disputed elections , which have bred contested outcomes. Our murky and disputed polls that are often riven with violence and bloodshed are a negation of the national quest for the right to vote, which was at the core of our collective struggle for national independence:; a war in which many people lost their lives.
On 28 February 2020, the people’s President Advocate Nelson Chamisa launched the Principles for Reliable, Inclusive and Credible Elections (PRICE), which contains the 20 principles that will anchor our Alternative Electoral Bill.
PRICE is our humble submission to correct the ills in our polls. Indeed, PRICE is our contribution to the comprehensive reform agenda so that Zimbabwe holds free, fair and credible elections in line with the core liberation war objective for the right to a vote and for a vote that truly counts.
Today, we are suffering the ignominy of yet another disputed election. The people of Zimbabwe have every reason to believe that the 2018 harmonized poll was riddled with monumental frailties that undermined its credibility and bred yet another contested outcome.
Zimbabweans still wonder how anyone could have branded such an election as having been free, fair and credible given the fact that the election management body revised downwards and changed its own figures a record three times—-and this only after the matter had been taken to court.
The social services sector has since collapsed while our economy is now highly cartelized. The well-heeled and the politically connected are fleecing the country. It is now a public secret that unbridled avarice, greed and corruption are also at the centre of the national rot.
Indeed, ou key fights include the fight against corruption, primitive accumulation and aggrandisement because our war of liberation was never for the benefit of a few individuals but for the entirety of the country’s citizens.
However, we have unstinting faith in the gallant sons and daughters of this land. Zimbabwe is a nation of heroes and heroines. We the people are determined to fix our country so that the next election is vaccinated against the various ills that have dented the credibility of our national plebiscites.
Central to this collective national quest is a comprehensive reform agenda that will encapsulate electoral, media and security sector reforms so as to rid our polls of the inadequacies that have routinely blighted the sovereign will of the people.
We in the MDC will play our part. We have since branded 2020 as the year of action and one of our key fights this year is the fight for a people’s government, for reforms and a return to legitimacy. We sincerely believe that only a free, fair and credible election will breed a legitimate government with an undisputed mandate; which government can begin to address the myriad challenges facing the people of Zimbabwe.
Forty years of political independence is a milestone deserving of celebration, notwithstanding the deep-seated national challenges and the unresolved people’s grievances. It is unfortunate that as a nation, we are commemorating our 40th birthday amid a lockdown that has come in the wake of a global pandemic.
We are confident that the future is bright. This year, we shall be leading from the front so that tomorrow truly becomes a better day for all of us.
Political independence without the attendant basic freedoms is grossly inadequate. We have to do more to ensure that Zimbabweans enjoy the freedoms, prosperity and development—a vision for which so many of our sons and daughters paid the ultimate price.
Indeed, political independence can only be meaningful if we are all safe and alive. Let us all wash our hands and take the requisite hygienic measures so that collectively, we survive this pandemic.
Zimbabwe shall certainly be a great country. Our country shall take her rightful place among the family of nations.
Tomorrow can only be a better day for all of us, provided that together, we work hard towards achieving a common vision of peace, prosperity and growth.
Happy independence day, Zimbabwe.
Luke Tamborinyoka, Deputy National Spokesperson, MDC Alliance