No celebrations for Epworth

34 years after Independence one of Harare’s oldest residential areas, Epworth, has no water, electricity or proper shelter.

Jaya Mupfumi: I struggle to make ends meet while a few enjoy fruits of independence.
Jaya Mupfumi: I struggle to make ends meet while a few enjoy fruits of independence.

Residents say they have nothing to celebrate as they continued living under appalling conditions and have not benefited from the government indigenisation policy.

Jaya Mupfumi (54), popularly known as Senator following his failed bid to contest as Zanu (PF) senatorial candidate for Epworth last year, said he did not benefit meaningfully from the so-called independence as he continued to struggle make ends meet.

This was despite the ‘pivotal’ role he played to mobilise and help aspiring freedom fighters cross borders into Zambia and Mozambique to join the armed struggle for Zimbabwe.

The former Zipra area youth secretary said: “I am among Epworth’s poorest residents and repair broken beds and sofas for a living.”

The nation’s wealth was being shared by a few big fish while the nation suffered, he added.

Alex Zakaria, 31, said independence was irrelevant as his life was all bitterness. Since he completed secondary education and training in refrigeration mechanics some 12 years ago, he has never been gainfully employed.

“The land reform did not benefit the youths since a few top people grabbed multiple farms, like the former white commercial farmers did,” Zakaria said, pointing out that the indigenisation and empowerment projects benefited a few connected.

Prosper Mbenga, 30, said Zimbabwe’s wealth was controlled by and benefited a select few – just like before independence. “Political power remains in the hands of a few old people not the youths,” Mbenga said, pointing out that leadership renewal was a key aspect of a true democracy.

“The poor have no access to standard medical facilities while their educational institutions continued to deteriorate,” said Mbenga. He noted that political rhetoric and the indigenisation talk had failed to culminate into industrialisation and genuine people empowerment.

Philip Nyapetwa said independence had taken a reverse trend as the nation become poorer. What people fought against during the armed liberation struggle, was exactly what a few in the corridors of power today were practicing. “The system is characterised by corruption, unfair distribution of resources among other injustices,” he said.

Chairperson for Epworth Residents Development Association, Danuel Foya, said Epworth had very little to celebrate at independence, as some residents faced shelter demolitions at the behest of government.

“It is unfortunate that 34 years after independence Zimbabweans continued to be threatened with shelter demolitions without alternative accommodation,” Foya said, warning those threatening with the demolitions that his association would resist the cruel intentions.

He said politicians who pretended to further interests of ‘free Zimbabweans’ would dish out crumbs to the masses in the run up to elections, only to disappear soon after.

“Maybe for Epworth to benefit from the fruits of independence, it has to be represented in Parliament and other influential public offices by locals who appreciate our plight,” Foya noted.

The outspoken chairperson said there would be no real independence when national resources such as those to do with farming and minerals were shared on partisan grounds.

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