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Tuesday, April 18, 2006

A Happy Independence Day?

Today is Zimbabwe’s independence day, marking 26 years of misrule, decline, and oppression. This address from Arthur Mutambara, an opposition leader associated with the Movement for Democratic Change, sums up my feelings beautifully.

Twenty six years after independence, the people of Zimbabwe are not enjoying the fruits of liberation. Instead, starvation, unemployment, deplorable working conditions, unmitigated suffering, and unprecedented hopelessness have become endemic. There is a litany of challenges: We live in an undeclared state of emergency where our basic freedoms and liberties of assembly, speech, movement, and association are heavily curtailed by repressive legislation. Zimbabweans live in a state of collective fear of violence, hunger, diseases and arrest. Basic and essential commodities are either unavailable or unaffordable. School fees, property rates, rentals and agricultural inputs are beyond reach. The crippling fuel crisis, erratic power supply, destruction of commercial agriculture, food shortages, and lack of housing are devastating the population. Inflation has soared to record levels of 913%, unemployment is above 85%, while poverty levels are above 90%. There is rampant corruption in both the private and public sectors, accentuated by poor public sector and corporate governance.
[...]
Civil society and civic organizations must be non-partisan, internally democratic, and respectful of their own laws. Term limits should be strictly adhered to in civic, party and national constitutions. There is need to restore political freedoms, rule of law, personal security, and political legitimacy in Zimbabwe. It should be understood that the Zimbabwean political culture has been defined by Zanu PF for the past 26 years. We are all cut from that same cloth, hence the tendency to replicate Zanu PF undemocratic practices in all our organizations. We need to acknowledge this and consciously create and live a new democratic value system.
[...]
Today, the 18th of April 2006, our sacred Independence Day, it is our humble submission that the Zanu PF government under the leadership of Robert Mugabe has violated all the principles of the liberation struggle leading to this unprecedented economic collapse. They have totally failed to organize and manage the affairs of our nation. They neither understand the causes of the economic crisis, nor do they have a clear vision for the country. More importantly, Zanu PF has neither the will, strategy nor capacity to deliver our country from economic collapse to prosperity. We demand our human rights and dignity today. We demand an end to the national economic crisis today. We demand the immediate resignation of the entire Zanu PF government today. The people of Zimbabwe must rule themselves again. Today, the hour has come for us to reclaim our national birth right.

And, of course, there is far more in what I didn’t quote. As much as some of the specifics may be overly optimistic or even a tiny bit naive, the direction is right and only a radical change will save Zimbabwe from complete collapse.

What is most maddening is that this talk of rebellion comes to mark the “independence” of what should have been one of the wealthiest and most stable nations in Sub-Saharan Africa; it was a nation with a decent industrial base, a healthy agricultural sector, a reasonable infrastructure, educational opportunities actually improved for some time after independence, and the kind of optomistic, international support that could have helped Mugabe build an example for other nations in the region.

Instead, Zimbabwe became a very typical African story of corruption, tribal politics, violence, and corruption.

Happy independence day, Zimbabwe.


Zimbabwe Independence

More Reading:
Tuesday, April 18, 2006 – Independence Day (Ha ha the joke’s on us)
Sokwanele home.
More Zimbabwe news from New Zimbabwe.

Original photo of Harare from CricketUmp.com.

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