Indeed, they died so that the national aspiration for dignity and freedom could live again. Yet others were maimed and lost limb so that the whims of future generations could walk again. The bones of the patriotic children of this land are strewn throughout the forests and bushes of Southern Africa.
In Zambia, Mozambique, Botswana and Tanzania, the sons and daughters of this country lie in shallow graves; their blood selflessly shed to irrigate the national aspiration for true freedom and national happiness. On 18 April 1980, we terminated the brutal era of colonialism and hoisted our new Zimbabwe flag with pride and honour.
We occupied government offices and claimed new political space.
Many people gave the new leadership the benefit of the doubt. We all expected our leaders to return our dignity by crafting policies that benefit the ordinary citizen and poise the country for economic growth and development. Contrary to expectations, the new leadership did not take long to betray the very values central to the liberation struggle. Repression, violence and looting became the order of the day.
Outraged by this combination of impunity and bad governance, the people of Zimbabwe demanded and thrust us to lead a new struggle to complete the unfinished business of the liberation struggle. Independence alone is not enough. Independence must be accompanied by respect for people’s basic freedoms. It must come with jobs and economic growth.
Independence means a new leadership with a new set of values that are in the interest of the people. It must come with the enactment of laws that show a new culture, a new ethos and a new thrust to respect the dignity and the freedoms of the individual.
Today, even in the wake of an inclusive government, policy and ideological discord at the instigation of some elements in this government have meant a further betrayal of the people’s aspirations. We have disagreed in this government because there are others who want to perpetuate the old culture of expropriation, looting and self-aggrandizement clad in new and misleading nomenclature such as “indigenization.”
It is such wild political jingoism that stands in the way of investment promotion and job creation for the people. It is regrettable that Independence Day has been monopolized and personalised by one political party. This is a national day that is greater than Zanu PF, the MDC, Mavambo or any other political formation. Independence day is a day greater than Morgan Tsvangirai , Robert Mugabe, Welshman Ncube, Arthur Mutambara or Simba Makoni.
Our personal caprices and the political parties we lead must subordinate themselves to the iridescent nature and character of this day. To adorn Independence Day in a Zanu PF robe is to rob it of its national character and its universal appeal to the diverse people of Zimbabwe who are all too aware of its mammoth significance to the story of this land.
I wish to state that we had a discussion in Cabinet last week about the proposed theme for this year, which is Indigenisation and Economic Empowerment for Economic Transformation. We rejected it because we find this a repugnant theme which sounds more of a slogan for a political party than an inclusive, peace-building theme which should be determined through consensus.
There was no consensus on the current theme . While we support broad-based empowerment of the ordinary person, our colleagues have taken indigenisation to mean expropriation and nationalization. There is no such policy of Government. Our problem is not about the day, but the theme of this day.
A more unifying theme which captures the national sentiment at this time would have been more appropriate. As Principals, we led the national call for peace in November last year and it would have been ideal to have a theme that revolves around this key issue ahead of the next election.
But despite the provocation around the theme, we will be attending tomorrow’s event because we believe it is a national day that is greater than political parties. We will attend because we will not allow Zanu PF to privatize this day.
While we reject the theme, we refuse to be chucked out of a national day which has nothing to do with Zanu PF but has everything to do with the collective history of all Zimbabweans in their diversity. So we will be there to pay tribute to the gallant sons and daughters of Zimbabwe who sacrificed everything to free this country. The only way to placate the spirit of the departed cadres of Zimbabwe’s liberation struggle is to respect the dignity and freedoms of the ordinary citizen.
We can only truly stand on the shoulders of heroes by building a peaceful country where government respects the people’s freedoms. Joshua Nkomo will smile in his grave if we build a new Zimbabwe where all people live in peace and harmony despite their tribal, racial, religious and political differences.
Hebert Chitepo and Leopold Takawira will truly say they fought a good fight when we begin to create jobs for the millions of unemployed Zimbabweans; when we stop repression and violence against each other. Yes, Josiah Tongogara, Sheba Tavarwisa, Solomon Mujuru will only be proud of us if we bring back the noise in our silent factories, promote investment and set this country on a new path to economic growth and development.
This is what the true revolutionary sons and daughters of this land died for. This is what they wanted. Once we execute their dreams, Independence will begin to have a new meaning, touching our very lives and setting the tone for a bright future for our children.
As we brace for the next election, there must be peace in the land. We should all stand united against violence. The youths of Zimbabwe must refuse to manipulated and bribed for political gain. There must be security of the person, security of the vote and security of the people’s will. This is the true freedom that our liberators fought for.
As we celebrate Independence Day, I urge all of you to remain united, to promote peace and above all, to share a thought for the thousands who perished to liberate this country. Some of them are still alive but struggling to barely survive and to send their children to school. This is an indictment on this inclusive government.
In the villages, we are all aware of the role played by our mothers, our sisters and our brothers towards meeting this national dream of charting a future for ourselves.
Today, we remember them. We salute them.
The collective story of this country is painful. Zimbabweans must be stand firm in defending the legacy of our protracted struggle by calling on us as leaders to be democratic, transparent and accountable.
Above all, we must respect and protect the people’s freedoms of choice, association, speech and movement. Only then will this day reclaim its true meaning.
Happy Independence Day!
God Bless You!
And God Bless Zimbabwe!
Prime Minister of Zimbabwe and President of the MDCPost published in: News