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After 44 years of suffering, still no Promised Land



THE 2024 Independence Day commemorations in Harare and other parts of the country outside the main event at Murambinda growth point in Buhera, Manicaland province were subdued and lacklustre, with very few people in attendance, which has become the trend since President Emmerson Mnangagwa took to the helm.


Murambinda was a hive of activity as senior government officials, legislators and ordinary people from the country’s ten provinces descended on the town. The people of Murambida were also treated to a soccer match pitting the country’s two most followed teams Dynamos and Highlanders clashing. Dynamos won the match 1-0.

In addition musicians from across the country performed at a well-attended  music gala.

But elsewhere in the country, there were no major festivities.  

Citizens are expressing resentment, saying they see no reason to celebrate independence from Rhodesia’s racist colonial regime amid extreme poverty, corruption and repression.

Hunger, joblessness and other economic hardships continue to bite the ordinary citizen and leaders seem to care less.

At the main event on 18 April, Mnangagwa’s speech was out of touch with reality. He claimed the economy’s gross domestic product has grown three times since he took over (from US$16 billion to US$47 billion), but he did not address a plethora of woes buffeting Zimbabwe on its 44th Independence anniversary.

There is uncertainty about the country’s moribund local currency, ZiG, yet to get into people’s hands. The country is at the cross-roads. It will be so for a long time.

Ordinary people are subjected to exploitation and despoliation by the Mnangagwa regime and see not much joy in marking independence.

Political analyst Vivid Gwede concurred with this assertion.

“The fact that the main event and attraction was out of these main cities could have contributed to low attendance. But also possibly people feel there is no genuine reflection at these events about the course of the country.

“In that sense,  people would see the celebrations as a partisan political pageantry. Given the high cost of living and most people work in the informal sector, they would choose to go to work. But this day remains an important milestone in the country,” he said.

At the main event this year, some opposition politicians jostled to take front seats and be noticed for their presence by Mnangagwa. Social media was awash with the line of thinking that ahead of release of the Political Parties (Finance) Act by the government, factions of the Citizens’ Coalitions for Change (CCC) outfit were desperate to get recognition so that the funds are poured into their pockets.

Senior Zanu PF officials also trooped into Murambinda to catch Mnangagwa’s attention.
Posting on his social media X handle, former Masvingo South Zanu PF legislator Walter Mzembi laughed off these unsophisticated political manoeuvres.

“In my 15 years as Member of Parliament for Masvingo South I never attended National Independence Celebrations in Harare, the only I ever attended was in 1980 at Rufaro Stadium when I was part of the Mucheke High School choir.

“My predecessor Dr Edison Zvobgo left me this lesson that on Independence Day, I must be with the people who voted me, so it would be one or two cows per Ward, I had to religiously budget for 20 cattle.

“We would rotate the Star Independence Ward Rally like that for 15 years in togetherness. It worked and united our people . They called me yesterday from the constituency reminiscing about the good old days. Many who follow the main national event are there for other reasons, leaders stay with the people,” he wrote.

Opposition stalwart Nelson Chamisa also said Independence means money in “your pocket” as he also reflected on how the commemorations have lost their meaning amid a sea of poverty among citizens.

“Independence means food in your homes. Independence means jobs for the youth. Independence means decent jobs and salaries for workers. Independence means world-class working conditions for our uniformed servicemen and women. Independence means decent pensions for our pensioners,” he wrote on X.

Chamisa lamented lack of drugs in hospitals, unaffordable social amenities, lack of basic infrastructure such as good roads and accessible districts countrywide.

He said independence means land, title deeds and free speech.

“Independence means free choice in elections. Independence means proper national elections. Independence means decent Salaries for civil servants. Independence means real money not Fake Money. Independence means dignity, decency and honour for citizens. Independence means true freedom, happiness and opportunities.

“Independence means trusted national processes. Independence means professional, durable, credible, dependable and accountable national institutions. Independence means economic opportunities and advantages for everyone. Independence means functional and well maintained infrastructure, upon working systems,” said Chamisa.

He opined that the hallmarks of independence are unity, dignity and happiness.

“Independence is empty without the dignity and happiness of its beneficiaries! Zimbabwe shall be free and happy in our lifetime!Independence and freedom can’t be for a few,” he said.

When the independent Zimbabwe’s new flag was hoisted at Rufaro Stadium in Harare at midnight on 18 April 1980 as the Union Jack was lowered by the United Kingdom’s Prince Charles (now King Charles III), there was a great deal of hope for the new nation and its people who had emerged from a long liberation struggle.

The country had been under colonial rule for 90 years. Prime Minister Robert Mugabe took oath of office shortly after midnight in a ceremony at the then Salisbury’s main stadium, while representatives of about 100 countries and 35 000 cheering Zimbabweans watched in awe.

Mugabe, the Zanu leader, made an eloquent plea to the people of Zimbabwe to end hostilities and hatreds of the past, and move on.

The independence ceremony, presided over by Prince Charles, heir to the British throne, had begun at midnight when the Union Jack was lowered for the last time in 90 years and the new five-coloured Zimbabwe flag was raised, signifying a new start.

 The lowering formally ended the 128-day “Second British Empire” in Africa that began when the temporary British governor Lord Soames arrived on 12 December 1979 to oversee the transition from white colonial rule and the first democratic general elections that brought Mugabe to power and brought hope to the masses.

After 40 years at the helm of Zanu PF and 37 years of Machiavellian rule, Mugabe was finally removed by his own lieutenants led by his key enforcer, now President Emmerson Mnangagwa, in a military coup in November 2017.

After that,  Mnangagwa is now in charge, but his rule represents more of continuity than change. Self-evidently, after 44 years of independence, Zimbabwe has nothing meaningful to show for it. Officials on 18 April made speeches full of sound and fury signifying nothing — like a tale told by an idiot — but the extreme hunger and poverty on the ground spoke volumes.

The majority are unemployed, millions have fled the country into neighbouring countries and overseas, while the nation has been looted dry, bankrupted and its people impoverished. All the gains of Independence pale in comparison to the sea of troubles engulfing the country.

As Zimbabweans commemorated — not celebrated — Independence Day, one thing was clear: the country is now an empty shell; a crude and fragile travesty of what it might have been.

To sum it up, it is Not Yet Uhuru for Zimbabwe.

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