Waiting for real independence

Zimbabwe celebrates 34 years of independence on Friday. This is a day that is supposed to be significant to all Zimbabweans, regardless of race, creed, colour or age. While we are supposed to be proud of the day and the gains that independence normally brings, many are wondering what there is to celebrate.

Paul Bogaert
Paul Bogaert

The fundamental ideals of going to war were to free Zimbabwe from colonial bondage, remove the evil of racial segregation, empower people with the land and means of production and give every citizen a full bouquet of human rights.

However, more than three decades after independence, have these been achieved? For the majority of Zimbabweans, the answer is a resounding “no”. It would be difficult for those who participated in the armed struggle to convince the world that there is racial equality in Zimbabwe at the moment. The thousands of people who were forcibly removed from their farms from 2000 know what it means to be treated as aliens and enemies in their own country.

While land redistribution was always a positive thing to achieve, its main blight was the racial dimension that tainted it when it eventually happened. Once the government of President Robert Mugabe decided to remove white farmers and thousands of black farm workers from their farms, it suddenly became criminal and dangerous to be a white person in Zimbabwe. It remains so today, even when most of the whites have been robbed of the farms that most of them had either bought legitimately or inherited from their forbearers.

There was also discrimination against blacks during the land redistribution exercise. The majority of the poor peasants who were supposed to be the first priority beneficiaries of the programme were either not resettled or were given land that has proved to be unyielding.

The fat cats still own multiple farms and the farm houses, yet they are not doing much to improve national agricultural production. Smallholder farmers have proved to be capable of contributing to national yields, yet nothing is being done to empower them.

It is these people who still long for real independence. Thousands failed to get land because they had committed “treason” by supporting the opposition. This is not only discriminatory, but a flagrant denial of their rights as Zimbabweans. For them, real independence is still far away.

They live in fear, the same as we used to do during the colonial days, of their rulers. They have been convinced that belonging to the opposition is a crime, yet independence is supposed to empower them to have freedom of conscience, assembly and speech.

Post published in: Editor: Wilf Mbanga
  1. The Bush Lawyer

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