Zimbabwe celebrates 32 years of independence from British rule, despite controversy
This week, Zimbabwe marked 32 years of independence from colonial rule. On Wednesday, Zimbabweans commemorated the historic day Zimbabwe gained independence. Sadly, freedom from British rule did not bring democracy and peace to the nation – 32 years later, the country is still desperately in need of change and escape from a brutal regime.
Cheering crowds greeted the Zimbabwean president, Robert Mugabe, at the start of the independence day celebrations in Harare. The celebrations, at Zimbabwe’s national sports stadium, included a fly-past by four MIG air force jets.
The President made a 50-minute speech, calling for forthcoming elections to be peaceful, and that voters should be free to vote for the party of their choice: “All fights, all struggles that were violent should not be allowed.”
Mugabe’s ZANU PF party has been accused of using violence, intimidation and the distribution of emergency food to gain votes during election campaigns.
In 1980, on the eve of Zimbabwe’s independence, Robert Mugabe delivered a touching speech, promising a new era of hope. This speech was re-released this week ahead of the anniversary and, as of yet, the ZANU PF regime is still to fulfill its promises to the country.
In April 1980, the 56-year-old Mugabe declared: “Our new nation requires of every one of us to be a new man, with a new mind, a new heart and a new spirit. Our new mind must have a new vision and our new hearts a new love that spurns hate, and a new spirit that must unite and not divide.”
He urged Zimbabweans to embrace an ethos of peace and forgiveness, which would lead to a successful nation: “If yesterday I fought as an enemy, today you have become a friend and ally with the same national interest, loyalty, rights and duties as myself.”
“The wrongs of the past must now stand forgiven and forgotten,” the would-be dictator said, adding that “oppression and racism are inequities that must never again find scope in our political and social system.”
“Our majority rule could easily turn into inhuman rule if we oppressed, persecuted or harassed those who do not look or think like the majority of us.”
Mugabe’s speech is all the more poignant as, under his rule, the ZANU PF has been responsible for unleashing decades of oppression against its opposition, negating his commitment to eradicate all forms of persecution. Even 32 years on, persecution continues as opposition members and activists are subject to partisan policing. The regime has also persecuted Zimbabwe’s white farming community – the violence, veiled under the pretense of agricultural reform.
Political analyst Clifford Mashiri claims Mugabe’s broken promises make this anniversary one not worth celebrating. Speaking to SW Radio Africa, he explained that “Zimbabwe is in a deeper crisis than it has been.”
“All the rhetoric in his speech gave way to looting, lying and revenge. He broke all promises,” Mashiri said.