Latest News Editor's Choice

Opinion / Columnist

Zimbabwe Independence, should we celebrate or mourn what we have lost?

17 Apr 2016 at 18:43hrs | Views
In 1980 there was jubilation throughout the country the masses were celebrating the birth of Zimbabwe. It had been many years of fighting in the bush. Both warring races lost many combatants and non combatants. The mood in 1980 was of happiness and burying the hatchet so to say. The new government started to encourage reconciliation. Liberation struggle songs were banned many opportunities were opened to black majority who have been living as second class citizens in their own country. The independent country formed a very integrated parliament which included all communities in the country. It was an admirable transition from a minority government to this beautiful example of how a nation can move from segregation to integration.

This beautiful picture was not to last long. Three years down the line the differences started to show and the country took a different path. Joshua Nkomo and his ZIPRA combatants were accused of wanting to topple the government. Joshua Nkomo skipped the country in an infamous way were it was alleged he wore a dress as a disguise to leave through the Plumtree border post into Botswana. This marked the beginning of mass atrocities committed against those who were considered to be supporters of Joshua Nkomo and his PF-ZAPU party. Many people from Matebeland and Midlands provinces were killed by North Korean trained 5th Brigade. The rest of the story is in writing of Zimbabweans and I do not need to repeat them here.

The trade unions protests in the mid 1990s which later formed the labour movement the MDC was a glimmer of hope to many. However that also brought untold suffering to the people many people were tortured and killed for their involvement in the movement. The beatings were indiscriminate, even the leader of the movement Morgan Tsvangirai was beaten to pulp his dehumanising picture of him with a torn shirt and a swollen face was all over the papers throughout many countries. Where a leader of such a popular movement can be beaten like that how much more can happen to an ordinary citizen? Independent Zimbabwe is a pariah state; citizens are exiled in their own country.

Over the years the ZANU-PF government of Robert Mugabe has been targeting dissenting voices and silencing them. The silences are usually done by early dawn abductions, disappearances and even day light beatings. Cases which come to mind are that of Rashiwe Guzha, Jestina Mukoko and lately Itai Dzamara and many more who are killed within their villages and do not make it to international news. Pastor Mugadza who stood in Victoria Falls during ZANU-PF conference with his banner telling the President that people are suffering was arrested and spent Christmas in police cells. How can a government of the people by the people refuse the very people who elected it freedom of speech and assembly? It boggles my mind that I am expected to celebrate my independence from one oppressor to other!

Zimbabwe is independent from the Ian Douglas Smith regime but it's not independent from the Robert Gabriel Mugabe's regime. The regimes are very similar in their discriminating tendencies. However the difference is the current regime purports to represent the majority of the people, yet it only benefits the minority. For me and my family we have suffered during Rhodesia era and Zimbabwe and they are many people who identify with this suffering. The persecution does not seem to end just on Thursday 14/4/16 Members of Parliament and ordinary citizens were receiving death threats for getting involved in a demonstration. So I question myself how can I be expected to celebrate independence when expressing my opinion is still considered a crime. Ambition to the higher office is also considered an abomination to the President and punishable by being kicked out of the party like Joyce Mujuru. If others dare to support you they can be killed or their homes and livelihood will be destroyed.

On the 18th April I will not celebrate but mourn the death of those who died to liberate us. I will remember children who are not going to school and elderly people who go hungry every day. I will remember those who are under continuous threat for daring to challenge the ZANU-PF government. I will remember those who are in exile for many years separated from their families. I will remember those who were burnt to death in xenophobia attacks. I will remember those constantly losing their property to looters during xenophobia attacks in foreign countries. I will remember those who were kidnapped and sent to die in their home country. I will mourn for those who were attacked by crocodiles and lost their life crossing Limpopo River to be in South Africa. I will mourn those who have not been given decent burial because no one knows what happened to them after abduction. I will be standing with a banner in foreign lands making the world aware of the continuous injustices in my country.

Mativenga Mbondiya is a human rights activist who has membership with a number of Human rights groups he writes in his own capacity. The views in this article do not represent the organisations he belongs to or affiliated to.

Source - Mativenga Mbondiya
All articles and letters published on Bulawayo24 have been independently written by members of Bulawayo24's community. The views of users published on Bulawayo24 are therefore their own and do not necessarily represent the views of Bulawayo24. Bulawayo24 editors also reserve the right to edit or delete any and all comments received.