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Independence makes no sense to a people still suffering!

by Tendai Ruben Mbofana
17 Apr 2023 at 14:13hrs | Views
During my short two-year stint in South Africa, between 2008 and 2010, I worked with two NGOs (non-governmental organizations) - whose main focus was with the less privileged.

The first one I was involved with was into HIV/AIDS community work - which worked with people living with the virus - ensuring that they accessed all the medical, emotional, and financial assistance they required.

The second NGO dealt with abused women - mainly concerned with providing them psycho-social support - on top of more practical interventions, such as safe houses, referrals to law enforcement, and whatever else deemed necessary.

In this work, there were some peculiar experiences that I encountered, and found extremely troubling.

There were women who would flee, or be rescued, from abusive relationships - thereafter, provided with alternative accommodation, somewhere regarded as safe from their tormentors.

Of course, unsurprisingly, a few of these ladies would meet men who appeared loving and caring, in stark contrast with those they escaped from - thereby, eventually starting new relationships.

These women would, understandably, believe that they had been given a fresh start in life, and an opportunity to finally enjoy the fullness of love.

Nonetheless, in some cases, this was not to be - as their new lovers, who had initially appeared as saints - later proved just as abusive and diabolical, if not far worse than, their previous partners.

These 'knights in shining armor' were more like 'devils reeking sulphur and brimstone'!

In such circumstances, would it make any sense for these new lovers to continue portraying themselves as being better - even attempting to remind the women of just how abusive their exes were?

I witnessed it for myself, when a new partner - in most cases, having even helped the lady flee from the previous abusive relationship, and was at the forefront of seeking legal assistance for her to divorce her then husband - turned into an abuser himself.

However, in all the abuse, he still wanted to be seen as the 'savior', who should be credited with the lady's 'freedom'.

He actually perceived himself as having brought joy and happiness in the women's life - completely disregarding or dismissing the abuse and torture he was now meting out on her.

In fact, these new lovers became so paranoid and excessively possessive - perennially crippled by a fear of the lady either rekindling old flames with her ex, or running off with another person.

I am always reminded of these days in South Africa every time I hear those in power in Zimbabwe repeatedly reminding the nation of the oppression of colonialism - while, at the same time, parading themselves as our 'messiahs', of whom we should eternally be indebted.

As we draw closer to 18th April, this self-importance reaches depraved new levels - as the ruling elite intensifies their delusion that we are supposed to be 'enjoying the fruits of independence'.

We are reminded, day in and day out, of just how 'evil' the Rhodesians were - with program after program on state-controlled television, incessantly telling us of these dastardly acts of 'savagery, segregation and subjugation'.

As I intently listen to all these tales - which inevitably become intolerable and, quite frankly, nauseating - I wonder how these messages are expected to mean anything to ordinary Zimbabweans, whose lives and livelihoods have hardly improved under this so-called 'independence'.

Are the vast majority of this country not suffering just as, if not worse, than in Rhodesia?

Surely, how many of us are better off in 'independent Zimbabwe' than they were under Rhodesia?

How can we be 'enjoying the fruits of independence' when half the population is living in extreme poverty, with two thirds of the workforce earning below the poverty datum line?

Are we expected to be celebrating and 'enjoying the fruits of independence' when millions can not afford three meals a day - with 60 per cent of the population reportedly lacking a nutritional balanced diet?

What is there to enjoy when our young ones have no hope for the future - in a country lacking meaningful opportunities - save for street vending, prostitution or thievery?

Are we better off today, when we are still reliant on learning and health care institutions built in the same Rhodesia we are told was 'evil' - which, nevertheless, today lie on the verge of collapse?

What is there to be beholden to the post-independence regime for - when rural areas are in the same state and shape as they were in the 1960s and 1970s, if not worse - lacking any semblance of development?

In actual fact, Zimbabwe's rural areas are arguably the most underdeveloped compared to her nearest cousins, South Africa and Namibia - whose citizens already enjoy access to reliable electricity and potable water in their homes, with decent schools and medical centers nearby - something we can only dream of here.

Yet, these two countries attained their independence much later than Zimbabwe - which common sense dictates should actually be behind us in terms of development - if our 'independence' was all that it is touted to be!

Nonetheless, those in power are the godfathers and godmothers of plundering our vast natural resources - which we should be using to uplift the lives of ordinary citizens, and developing our country.

We are losing an estimated US$100 million a month to gold smuggling - as witnessed in the recent 'Gold Mafia' Al Jazeera undercover investigation - through our post-independence leaders, who are more concerned about enriching themselves, than the people they are supposed to be leading.

We are not even factoring in what Zimbabwe is being prejudiced through the illicit sale of our diamonds, lithium and other precious minerals.

When it comes to human rights - there is very little to celebrate in 'independent Zimbabwe'.

As a mater of fact, each time I listen to some people narrating their horrendous ordeals, through barbaric experiences they faced - in most cases, my initial assumption is that they are talking about what they went through under ZANU PF rule.

Only later, do I realize they are actually talking about Rhodesia - which just goes to show how life in post-independence Zimbabwe is harrowing for those who dare oppose or challenge the ruling establishment.

As such, for what reason should we be celebrating our 'independence', as if our lives and livelihoods had actually improved?

The brutal truth is that - just as the new lover I mentioned earlier - life for ordinary Zimbabweans, under our 'saviors' has becomes even more terrible and terrifying

We are now abused far worse than before and there is absolutely nothing to 'enjoy'.

- Tendai Ruben Mbofana is a social justice advocate, writer, researcher, and social commentator. Please feel free to WhatsApp or Call: +263715667700 | +263782283975, or email:

Source - Tendai Ruben Mbofana