Our country is on Monday, April 18th supposed to celebrate 42 years of Independence. For us as the United Zimbabwe Alliance (UZA), this day should signify a reflection of our country’s development trajectory. The day colonial rule ended, nation building for a new Zimbabwe was set to begin. However, instead of a liberating feeling of progress, this day is a painful reminder that after forty two years of what is supposed to be self-rule and self-determination nothing much has changed for the majority of our citizens. The penury which our country has been subjected to under the misrule of the current government is sobering.
Forty two years later where are we? We are mostly still impoverished. We still are subjected
to political intolerance and politically motivated brutalities. Equality is still out of reach.
The majority of citizens in rural areas still dwell in a state of neglect, inhibited by underdeveloped infrastructure and inaccessible or non-existing community support services. Our cities are slowly being turned into shanty towns and squatter camps, reflecting the decades upon decades of unfulfilled promises and broken social contracts. Economic ruin has condemned Zimbabweans to untold suffering and misery.
Forty two years later, we still have a Zimbabwe which is bereft of opportunities for its youth.
It’s saddening that our youth have to brave perilous journeys to eke out a living in neighbouring countries. For some, the journey is unforgiving as our people are being lynched, torched and subjected to untold brutality. Elvis Nyathi, a Zimbabwean national was murdered in South Africa - only because he was forced to seek a better livelihood for his family in a foreign land.
And so today, we wonder how many more people die away from home? Forced to flee from our Zimbabwe, a land endowed with vast and varied resources. A land where suffocated opportunities lie dormant as bureaucracy smothers the spark. Is this the Independence that was intended for us, the citizens? We think not! It never was intended to benefit just a few while the rest are locked in poverty.
Even at home, as the health system steadily collapses, we are dying unnecessary deaths. Most in the nation sleep hungry or have children who grow up malnourished - yet we all spend days on end labouring to procure our next meal. It's time for a bold and genuine change, for a new direction that paves the way for advancement and recovery.
What Zimbabwe needs is a totally new government, not a superficial change or repackaging of the same players from an old government. We must bring an end to the toxic and divisive politics which has become the norm in our Zimbabwe. Doing again and again what we have done for the past 5, 10, 20 or 42 years will not bring us change!
To truly reclaim our independence, we must take the necessary steps to build our country. We are so determined to pursue inclusive, progressive development, that our work has already begun even before we are in government. As the United Zimbabwe Alliance, our priority is solidly focused on a sustainable development agenda. We are fulfilling the promises deferred by those that choose to exploit rather than nurture. We are delivering upon all that has largely been ignored.
Our message this Independence Day is that it is only through us, the people of Zimbabwe, that our country will be transformed. This Independence Day, let us all reflect on the primary purpose of the liberation struggle. It was premised on the need to free the majority of our citizens from oppression and to restore respect for human rights. There was need for equity and equality. Equality in terms of economic freedom, equality in terms of treatment before the law, equality in terms of democracy, equality in terms of social freedoms and land.
As UZA, we desire a Zimbabwe that guarantees fundamental care for every Zimbabwean, including our veterans. Countless men and women sacrificed all they had to join the liberation struggle, and indeed today, so many families still are burdened and scarred by the great sacrifices made for our democracy. Many gave up everything to gain for us the belief in one person one vote and an electoral system we could believe in. They paved the way for us individual citizens, to exert an influence on our choice of government. Each of us can have a say in the distribution of economic resources. Each of us can do our part to end the brutality and exploitation.
Hope is lost when all we do is blame others. Hopelessness weakens us. So, on this day, fellow Zimbabweans, let’s all be clear minded and become cognisant that change, and genuine independence for our country, is long overdue - and it is still conceivable.