Tomorrow is Independence Day, which undoubtedly is an important milestone in the country’s history.
The 34th anniversary of the country’s fresh beginning — after almost a century of colonial rule — however, evokes distinct responses from different sections of our society.
The most contradictory ones are the narcissistic celebrations in the top echelons of government and stunning levels of poverty and deprivation in the lower rungs of this society.
Our powerful rulers’ obvious reasons to bask in the glory of the day stem from the discolouring nationalist dogma that they, and they alone, delivered Independence and all the attendant freedoms.
The celebrations this year are coming under the shadow of the state’s own admission that parastatals and other quasi-government institutions under its watch are vestiges of corruption which has been bleeding this economy.
The corruption scourge, embarrassing inefficiencies in government and the economic decline exemplify a stunning paucity of leadership that has over the years extinguished the freedom flame.
President Mugabe’s government has been on a crusade to urge Zimbabweans to accept this independence rhetoric uncritically; that is subscribing to the discredited nationalists before and after mantras.
The approach has been for the country to look admirably at the after-Independence achievements such as founding the nation-state and formulating development plans; both of which have failed them consistently for the past 34 years.
There is a push to celebrate yesteryear gains in health, education and infrastructure development, but these so-called gains have been drowned by a sea of poverty reflected in low scores in all social and development indicators.
The most stunning ones being 95% unemployment, two thirds of the population living below the poverty datum line and a maternal mortality rate of 960 deaths per 100 000.
We still live in a country afflicted by ancient diarrhoeal diseases because potable water is not only scarce, but is heavily polluted.
Power cuts have taken this nation back to the dark ages and infrastructure is crumbling faster than authorities can rehabilitate it.
The setbacks have also manifested themselves in hunger that continues to stalk the nation despite the vainglorious celebrations of the success of the land reform programme.
In short, 34 years after majority rule, Zimbabwe is a very poor country which is badly in need of a new Independence mindset.
The promising road that Zimbabweans embarked on after Independence has led to a dead-end of corruption and decay, spawned by bonehead policy decisions.
While Independence Day is significant, it is high time the ruling elite puts aside political subjugation of the colonisers as the highest political value and loftiest platform for the future.
In this day and age it does not inspire the nation to move forward.
It has only managed to give the nation a wrong focus that presupposes that freedoms wrought by Independence can only be enjoyed at the behest of benevolent national rulers.
This we must reject as a nation. With the right resolve and creativity, Zimbabweans should engage in a redemption struggle to prioritise freedom, poverty and misery as issues that are fundamental for this country to regain human dignity.