April 18 raises mixed emotions for many Zimbabweans. It is about the most momentous and emotional date on our calendar; so much pain and loss of life for so many who delivered independence.
The shattered dreams, repression and anguish have been traumatic. Was it worth it? Was the struggle meant to benefit the Zanu PF elite and not the majority?
April 18 is the day when the hopes of our political and economic freedom met realpolitik. Our dreams have over the past 43 years turned into a living nightmare.
April 18 marks the day we freed ourselves from racist white minority rule. Sadly, it is also the day that independence morphed into black-on-black oppression.
This is a day when it is impossible not to pause and reflect on the sharp contrast between the promise of our liberation struggle and the tragic reality of our existence. While eternally grateful we are free from racist oppression, the burden of oppression by our own is unbearable.
The liberation struggle was a fight for majority rule. The fight was for a bill of rights and a constitution that would guarantee equality for all citizens. The promise was that the injustices of settler land policies would be put right through equitable redistribution.
Now it’s clear the Zanu-PF elites consider themselves a special group of people. They have got the choice land and retain the privilege of continuing to dish it out to their supporters. President Emmerson Mnangagwa has packed the judiciary with his cronies and weakened the police force to the extent that his supporters literally get away with murder.
The 1980 Zanu PF political manifesto outlined 13 fundamental rights that included freedom of speech, freedom to demonstrate and to strike. There was a promise that power would be vested in the people through democratic elections. Instead, there has been a whittling away of all these rights and power is now concentrated in the political elite, eroding the public’s faith in democracy.
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There has been a blatant display of arrogance and avarice from the ruling elite and a strong sense of entitlement which have resulted in unprecedented corruption in the face of acute destitution.
Once ensconced in power Zanu PF has shown no appetite to create the kind of society envisaged during the liberation struggle. Inequality has set in on account of corruption and an inefficient and incompetent public sector. School dropouts due to poverty, teen pregnancy and other social factors have reversed initial gains in education. In the health sector, poor infrastructure and shortage of skilled professionals and medicines have reversed the gains of independence.
We must never give up on the core principles and values that saw many sacrifice for freedom.
What April 18 stands for must remain deeply etched in our collective psyche. The desecration of the values of our liberation struggle is no reason to give up on the noble fight for justice, human rights, democracy and broad-based economic prosperity. We must focus again on economic policies for inclusive institutions and prosperity. April 18 belongs to all of us because we all fought for it.
- Trevor Ncube is Alpha Media Holdings chairman
- This opinion piece is from the YouTube.com//InConversationWithTrevor and convowithtrevor.com platforms