No, that is a huge fallacy.
For starters, let us not forget that South Africa became a republic, and free from British rule, on May 31, 1961 – which effectively meant that, what such iconic revolutionaries as Nelson Mandela, Chris Hani, and Desmond Tutu were fighting for was not independence, but democracy – which they subsequently realized on April 27, 1994.
As such, a country can be “independent”, but not necessarily be “democratic” – a fact which we have undeniably witnessed in Zimbabwe – as her citizens have never enjoyed any real peace, freedom, and prosperity ever since the British colonial era, up to today, under a supposedly “independent” nation.
In fact, it would be misleading to even characterize what is prevailing in Zimbabwe as “independence” – due to the many dynamics that determine whether a country is genuinely independent or not.
The concept of “independence” is derived from a country’s state of not being controlled, domineered, or subject to another more dominant power.
With this simple understanding in mind, can we ever begin to claim that Zimbabwe is truly “independent”?
Is Zimbabwe honestly free from foreign domination and control?
As a matter of fact – has this country ever been free from foreign domination and control post-1890?
If truth be told, from as far back as the British occupation and conquest of the land between the Limpopo and Zambezi rivers, through Cecil John Rhode’s BSAC (British South African Company) – this country has never experienced any semblance of independent rule.
The nature of a particular nation’s independence status is usually judged by its foreign policy – and, of course on the home front.
That is why, during the two world wars, Southern Rhodesia (now Zimbabwe) contributed more manpower to the British war effort than any other dominion or colony, and even more than Britain itself.
I remember stories by elderly relatives of how they fought in “Hitler’s War” (the second world war), whereby, they were deployed to countries as Burma (now Myanmar) – as they fought for the British.
Fast forward to today, when we are made to believe that the gallant and emulable exploits of our intrepid sons and daughters of the soil – who courageously fought for the liberation of our country – actually culminated in the birth of an independent Zimbabwe.
Sad as it is to say, but the brutal truth is that – Zimbabwe merely switched from one colonial master to another.
Again, our foreign policy is the best place to start scrutinizing.
Since Russia invaded its western sovereign neighbor Ukraine – and, in so doing, brazenly violated one of the most crucial pillars and tenets of the UN Charter, that of respecting other country’s territorial integrity and independence (thereafter, unleashing a horrendous reign of terror that has razed to the ground many cities, and barbarically killed countless innocent civilians) – the Zimbabwe government has never shied away from throwing its full weight behind this heinous criminal act.
In fact, the Emmerson Dambudzo Mnangagwa regime was one of only 24 countries that (on April 7, 2022) voted against a UN General Assembly resolution seeking to suspend the invading Russians from the Human Rights Council.
This, on top of a previous highly flawed decision to join other 35 nations (on March 3, 2022) that abstained from voting for a UN General Assembly resolution condemning this callous and arrogant disregard of international law at the blood-dripping hands of the Russians.
The question is why?
Why did Zimbabwe choose to aligh herself with the wrong side of history?
This is clearly not a matter of principle – as our country has never been known for upholding any values worth emulating.
However, the plain truth is that, Zimbabwe herself being a notorious rogue on the word stage – known more for her cold-hearted oppression, which border on horrific crimes against humanity, than any pro-people policies – can not afford to be truly “independent”, since not only can a pot surely not call a kettle black, but also desperately needs the support and backing of fellow discredited countries at similar international fora, should the need arise.
We have already witnessed this when (on July 11, 2008) China and Russia vetoed a UN Security Council resolution that would have condemned and imposed sanctions on Zimbabwe – after the regime had unleashed a deadly murderous mission upon its own largely rural population, as a result of the humiliating defeat of then president Robert Gabriel Mugabe, by the opposition MDC’s Morgan Richard Tsvangirai in the March 29 presidential elections, leading to a one-man runoff on June 27, after Tsvangirai pulled out due to the bloody reign of terror.
In other words, Zimbabwe can not be a truly independent nation, as it has to pay “protection fees” to such global powers as Russia and China – in order for them to watch her back.
We have already seen, with indescribable horror, as Chinese companies ride roughshod over impoverished defenceless rural Zimbabweans – with their predominantly mining business entities maliciously breaching the country’s laws with apparent impunity, whilst threatening to displace villagers from their ancestral lands, and desecrating their forefathers’ graves and heritage sites.
Which can only be a most humiliating situation for the people of this nation – who have to live with the embarrassing knowledge that their leaders have sold out their souls to the devil, simply because they are the black sheep of the international community.
Please do not get me wrong.
I am not saying that Zimbabwe should be on the side of the US, and other Western powers – since, that would also be merely switching colonial masters, and not render our country truly independent and free.
All I am asserting is that, a genuinely independent country should be on the side of justice, international law, and the ordinary people – and, not be governed by foreign powers.
In that regard, when the US and her Western allies commit unspeakable crimes against other nations – as when the world watched in utter shock and disgust after their invasions of Iraq and Afghanistan on March 19, 2003, and October 1, 2001, respectively – a truly independent country should stand up boldly to condemn such unacceptable atrocities.
Similarly, the country needs to express the same unapologetic disdain of injustices and violations of international law, when Russia and China commit equally savage crimes – as with the attack on Ukraine; and the latter’s misadventures in the South China Sea, as well as its persecution and ill-treatment of the Uyghur, Kazakhs, Kyrgyz, other minority groups.
This is what is termed “non-alignment” – which, at some point in world history, was unsuccessfully attempted by some states.
The concept of “non-alignment” should never mean being a passive fence-sitter – rather opting to see no evil, hear no evil, or speak no evil – but should be a firm and principled stance in standing up, and speaking out against any evil, regardless of who committed the nefarious act.
However, this can only be accomplished when a country comes with clean hands before the international community – whereby, it will not be forced to compromise on its values, on account of desiring future protection from is own crimes.
Which is the unenviable and shameful place Zimbabwe, tragically, finds herself today – as she panders to Russian and Chinese interests, as a form of “protection fees” – leaving our country still a colony, dominion, or protectorate of these powerful states.
© Tendai Ruben Mbofana is a social justice activist, writer, researcher, and social commentator. Please feel free to contact him on WhatsApp/Call: +263715667700 / +263782283975, or Calls Only: +263788897936 / +263733399640, or email: [email protected]Post published in: Featured