Independence fails to bring political freedoms

HARARE - Tomorrow, April 18 is an important calendar date for Zimbabweans as we celebrate 33 years of self-rule.

There has been mixed reactions to this year’s Independence Day, with analysts and social commentators giving different views in interviews carried out by the Daily News.

Rashweat Mukundu, a media practitioner said Zimbabweans need not regret the independence project and must take ownership of the ideals and aims of the independence struggle away from distortions caused by the political leadership.

“Zimbabweans are yet to enjoy full citizenship because the nationalists’ leadership that emerged in 1980 has continued with the same repression as the white colonial regime.

“As such Zimbabweans must continue agitating for complete and unadulterated freedom, which is based on the enjoyment of full citizen rights more so equality.

“Right now we have an animal farm case, where some animals are more equal than others,” said Mukudu.

Phillip Pasirayi, director for Centre for Community Development in Zimbabwe (CCDZ) said Zimbabweans cannot be expected to celebrate independence when they are still denied basic freedoms and lack access to resources such as land and minerals.

“Those citizens who do not agree with Zanu PF are subjected to abuse and discriminated against. The fruits of independence accrue only to members of one political party, Zanu PF,” said Pasirayi.

He said independence is meaningless when it is appropriated by Zanu PF to legitimise power and not to improve the lives of ordinary Zimbabweans.

“The rampant human rights violations, corruption and breakdown of basic services such as water, electricity, food and medication make a mockery of our independence because this is what the struggle was all about,” said Pasirayi.

Misa-Zimbabwe advocacy officer Tabani Moyo said ‘Independence’ was in its wholesome a statement of self-governance, self-determination and generally an expectation of a better life for a nation that had been torn apart by the vices of war and strife.

“Independence came with the promises of better life under the leadership of the nationalist command.

However, a good life is not that type of life whereby you are left limping or dead for expressing yourself.

A better life is founded on a nation that can make informed decisions and that can live with its decisions without fears for reprisal or fears for making certain decisions that might be deemed, ‘unpatriotic’,” said Moyo.

He said his expectation for what was to be an independence package is that, “my forefathers, aunties and the nation fought and died for my freedom.

It was not a given select people but the country at large hence, I want to enjoy the freedoms to make informed decisions and be able to work for a fruitful nation, society and a family with a peace of mind.

“Having noted the foregoing, at least the country should be open and tolerant to divergent views. Every individual should be free to play a part in building a successful society and the developmental agenda.”

Moyo said while he was proud that the country was liberated, it must be reflecting the freedom through the bottom line accrued benefits of jobs, lack of poverty, access to affordable health, the elderly being paid for their years of hard work and putting our priorities accordingly, investing in science and new technologies for efficiency in solutions to our nation.

“As we celebrate independence my heart bleeds for the lives lost during the combat for freedom given the contradiction that defines present day Zimbabwe that is punctuated by among other things, deep seated corruption, plunder of national resources, State being turned to a thuggish business empire by a few and the deep sea of poverty and starvation while  government ministers crave of a golden handshake to exit government,” said Moyo.

Bulawayo theatre director and actor Styx Mhlanga said in the City of Kings very few people celebrate Independence Day as school children, the police and army form a majority of people who celebrate it.

“But I wonder whether they do so willingly. We should be celebrating freedom of speech and association, but that is still denied to a majority in the country,” said Mhlanga. The actor added: “We should be celebrating better standards of living, but what with so much unemployment? There is no reason to celebrate among the 80 percent of Zimbabweans who are unemployed!”

Famous music producer Bothwell Nyamhondera said as we celebrate Independence Day, his wish was to see a Zimbabwe that boasts of a vibrant economy, a brighter prospect for the future for our youth and everybody else.

“And off course a God-fearing and fair society.”

Playwright Raisedon Baya said generally Zimbabwe was celebrating self-rule, and the opportunities it has brought for blacks.

He added: “However I could have hoped for better governance, less corruption, more opportunities to grassroots people, a well-articulated national vision and national identity.”

Theatre producer Daves Guzha said on Independence Day we would be celebrating the move from white colonial rule and success to the pronounced economic success of a few blacks.

“In short, we are celebrating our moral, economic, social and cultural decay.”

Guzha said celebrations are normally associated with pomp and fanfare. “Are we getting that on Thursday? I would have wanted to have a leadership which brings some positive things to our lives as we are all feeling very drained. Toita sezvinonzi tine zvikwambo zvinoti sveta ropa siku ne sikati.”

The playwright said as Zimbabwe celebrates, there is no harm in remembering those who died during the liberation war, “but we should also remember that the past is meant to inform the present positively.”

Harare Residents Trust director Precious Shumba said Zimbabweans are a disappointed people because of unfulfilled pre-independence and post-independence promises on transformation of their lives.

“They had been hoping to have a real encounter with honey and milk. But this has not happened to the majority, as only a minority in the political sphere have had it big in business, and other economic and social opportunities,” said Shumba.

Social commentator Thomas Deve said independence serves as a reminder of the anti-colonial struggles and why it is important for people to cherish freedom from oppressive systems.

“But all this often gets crowded out by narratives that often see the divergent views as dissident opinion that should be suppressed instead of cultivating a culture of tolerating diversity and managing pluralism."

“It is a moment to throw away party regalia and embrace the flag and other relevant national symbols,” said Deve.

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