REFLECTIONS ON MEANING OF OUR INDEPENDENCE DAY

18 April, every year, is a great day as we remember to celebrate independence in Zimbabwe but it remains so unfortunate that disillusionment and disgruntlement has darkened this day as Zanu PF wildly continues leading the nation backwards when time and circumstances demand progressive governance.

It is so boring to keep writing, talking and hearing of an unchanging story. We are sick and tired of our degrading political and economic situation. We are sick and tired of being sick and tired. We should be writing and talking of an improving Zimbabwean story today, but behold; our situation has not changed yet. 

Zimbabwe is still under the same old rough faces, with same ideologies and strategies which cannot change our economy and politics. President Mugabe is still in power. Recently Zanu PF got more powerful as twenty-one so-called ‘rebellious’ opposition MPs were recalled from parliament.

The Zanu PF has not changed. Our battered economy keeps bleeding. Dissenting voices face hellish encounters with state security agents on daily basis. One most recent disturbing case is that of journalist-cum-democracy activist Itai Dzamara who was abducted for merely speaking out against tyranny.

The Zimbabwean story has taken an unbearably painful time and levels. The year 2015 Independence Day comes in such a trying time when we are all highly worried of an uncertain future. We normally expect true independence to bring us a friendly government of the people, by the people and for the people. Contrary to that, we have a harsh government of Zanu PF, by Zanu PF and for Zanu PF. The government of this day has proved to be against the interests of the people. Zanu PF is primarily geared up on conquering, keeping power and self enrichment.

What can ordinary Zimbabweans really celebrate on Independence Day this year?  The majority of Zimbabweans are currently languishing in tragic poverty as unemployment rate has risen above 80 percent. Countless companies have closed and many more are shutting down due to the economic crisis.

The former celebrated breadbasket of Africa is now a cursed basket case pathetically dependent on cheap imports and humanitarian aid. The broke Zanu PF government can no longer support farmers. A few hard working farmers lucky to be still producing considerably enough to sell can no longer give our almost defunct Grain Marketing Board which does not pay. The Zanu PF government has failed to utilize land which our bloody leaders claim to be the greatest fruit of independence. Three quarters of Zanu PF officials seized multiple farms during and after the chaotic fast track land reform program and failed to make productive use thereof. Can Zimbabweans discern the true meaning of independence in our situation today?

Our hemorrhaging economic challenges which are worsening deadly suffering, breaking families and impoverishing the nation have dampened the spirit of independence.

It is very important for us to celebrate independence and commemorate sacrifices that our national heroes made to liberate our country from White colonial rule. Most Zimbabweans understand this, I believe. That government’s avoidable failures have led citizens to live in disastrous struggles, each passing day has darkened the light of independence. No one can celebrate independence in black, lack, fear, helplessness and hopelessness.

Ordinary citizens can no longer afford basic education in Zimbabwe. We have literally lost the right to education. Few Zimbabweans who are fortunate to attend schools today are still seriously affected by economic challenges as teachers and lecturers sometimes demonstrate against low and late remuneration. Recently we read about demonstrations at our biggest university, the University of Zimbabwe as students rose for basic provisions and in solidarity with lecturers whose salaries are not well paid.

Where is independence in our situation today? We have lost relatives and friends in roads and hospitals while MPs voice for personal benefits, the president keeps travelling with unreasonably big delegations to foreign occasions. President Mugabe’s government has failed roads and hospitals so much that he personally hates using them. He usually travels on air and attends hospital outside the country. Are we really independent?

We are forced by situations to think about lack of adequate basic needs like water and electricity. At thirty-five, we are still stressed with lack of water and electricity! The ninety one years old president who led us where we are still fools us with pledges to make up our lives.  Concerned Zimbabweans have many unanswered questions on independence. Have we done justice to those who sacrificed their lives to free this country from White colonial rule? Has the Zanu PF government honestly pursued dreams of our heroes? These, and many related questions may not be answered on 18 April. We are highly likely to be told of how sanctions and fired Mujuru and company were fighting the revolutionary party from within. That will not solve our issues. That will not give us the original meaning of independence.

We are at a time that needs a hard working leadership that focuses on nation building. The president and his team must be thinking of how to restore our economy. We have degreed people now reduced to vendors and flea market struggling traders as a result of company closures and retrenchments.

Unfortunately anyone who speaks out about these biting issues becomes an enemy of the state. Independence today somewhat means intimidation. Independence Day reminds us of state agents who threaten opposing voices when Zanu PF calls for its ritualistic gatherings. It is not debatable that most Zimbabweans are now afraid of Zanu PF. The old party has made it known that dissenting voices are unwelcome. State security agents have terrorized the nation so much that public silence and submission is no longer voluntary but forced. This is against democracy, which our heroes fought for. Zanu PF reign of terror is against independence, which we must celebrate.

Any celebration loses its meaning when forced. Celebration has to be self-motivated. The true meaning of independence is now all lost.

The time that Zanu PF began forcing fatigued and frustrated people to attend Independence Day commemorations is the time that the day became a Zanu PF event, when in normal sense it must be a national event.

Our Independence Day has lost its original meaning beyond helpless politicking we experience on the forced 18 April gatherings. Zimbabweans have not yet gained what the gallant sons and daughters of the soil sacrificed their lives for.

A big number of the filthily rich Zanu PF officials, their families and friends are getting richer at the expense of the nation, while the poor innocent ordinary citizens are getting poorer than they were under White government before 1980.

None of Zimbabweans can be fooled that independence means black rule and land, which has brought more problems than solutions to our nation today. Most Zimbabweans know that meaningful independence must entail the right to vote, act, speak, or think democratically. Independence should include freedom from economic misery and dependency. Zimbabwe is, in that context, currently far from being an independent country.

How and why can Zimbabweans celebrate independence without any constitutional right? All constitutional rights remain a pipe dream for most Zimbabweans today. On paper our rights are there but practically we do not have. Zanu PF keeps living above the law. This is evidenced by freewill torture and abductions of bold Zimbabweans who speak up against government failures. None of those (even well known political thugs) who tortured and killed countless Zimbabweans on political grounds has been brought to book.

Instead of preaching helpless lies on this important independence day, Zanu PF leaders should be facilitating fair reflections on the real meaning of independence, where we are in fulfilling national interests and what we can do for the best of our country. It seems that ‘fairness and service delivery’ is not part of Zanu PF’s national agenda.

We have to introspect on where we are coming from, where we are and where we want to go. The Zanu PF government wrongly keeps peddling blame while ignoring catastrophic issues of gross incompetence, hurtful corruption and shameful misrule that drags Zimbabwe from worse to worst economic and political points.

We have therefore lost the real meaning of independence. Zanu PF has lost the plot. We are resultantly busy struggling for survival so much that we have no time for independence commemorations. This is why most of us will only attend Zanu PF independence gatherings when forced to.

We are still seized with massive generational exodus to nearby countries where our brothers and sisters grapple with xenophobia on a daily basis. Most Zimbabweans would not be scavenging for food outside the country if we were truly independence.

Independence will get meaningful again when Zanu PF stops closing businesses and forcing people to attend gatherings. True independence will automatically motivate people to freely gather and celebrate its life-giving fruits.

Feedback, email tagwireik@gmail.com

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