Zimbabwe at 37: Future looks bright

We celebrated 37 years of independence last Tuesday with patriotic Zimbabweans thronging the National Sports Stadium in Harare where President Mugabe delivered his key note address, while thousands others trooped to provincial centres to mark the celebrations with Ministers of Provincial Affairs reading the President’s speech.

Millions of other citizens who could not make it to the different venues were glued to their television sets to listen to the President’s messages to the nation. This year’s 37th Independence anniversary theme: ‘Embracing Ease of Doing Business for Socio-Economic Development’ should be hailed as a bold statement which shows Government’s commitment to creating a conducive environment that guarantees viability and sustainability of investment into the country.

It is no doubt that the positives far out weigh the negatives as the country marks her 37 years of independence. We all recall that the rallying call at independence in 1980 was a country free of illiteracy (ignorance), poverty and disease.

As a country we have developed and achieved a lot, like the expansion of education, improved democracy and infrastructure development. , but Both politicians and ordinary citizens agree that key development indicators show that Zimbabwe has changed over the past years.

It is a fact that the democratic space has greatly expanded in Zimbabwe. People can freely speak their mind without worrying about being detained or harassed as was the case during the colonial era. Anyone can speak openly about the Government and the new Constitution has greatly impacted on the politics of the country and also its management.

Economically, the country has suffered from the impact of the illegal sanctions imposed by Western countries and their allies after President Mugabe made bold moves to redress the inequalities in land distribution between the majority indigenous blacks and the minority whites, who owned the bulk of the fertile land.

While we need massive investment to create more jobs, especially for the youth, the country also has  vibrant small and medium size businesses where more opportunities for employment are being created.

There is ongoing increased investment in infrastructure development to improve prospects for economic growth and shared prosperity. According to the World Health Organisation’s report on the progress on the health related Millennium Development Goals, Zimbabwe has strived hard but is still to achieve the goals, notwithstanding the fact that there is significant progress being recorded towards realising some of them.

“For example, huge strides have been made in goals two, which sets out to achieve universal Primary Education and goal six which focuses on combating HIV/Aids, Malaria and other diseases. Generally, the performance of the country towards realising the goals though still low, is on a positive trajectory.

On the occasion of independence celebrations, we expected the political leadership across the political spectrum to use the event day to rally the country together; exhorting citizens to look back through what the country has gone through, acknowledging the successes and the pitfalls therein and preparing them to face the challenges that may lie ahead. And most importantly, to celebrate who we are as a people united in diversity.

But we have seen less and less of that. Instead, we have witnessed the base of grandstanding take centre-stage while opposition politicians attempt to score off the ruling party leadership on a day reserved for self-reflection.

MDC-T leader Morgan Tsvangirai and former Vice President Joyce Mujuru have both spoken ill of independence day celebrations, undermining the very notion of nationhood. To them, values like humility and kindness and respect for authority don’t exist. Their defiance speaks of impunity that reigns within their political ranks.

We expect the politicians to spend more energy espousing the ideals that we hold dear as a people; unity, perseverance and a deep sense of self-renewal in the face of great adversity. We ought to hear more about how to make our society more inclusive and more equal.