Herald Reporter—
Zimbabwe has made great strides in various social sectors and empowerment of the indigenous majority since attaining independence in 1980, observers from a cross section of society said yesterday. The remarks come as Zimbabweans celebrate 35 years of independence under the theme “Zimbabwe @35: Consolidating Unity, Peace and Economic Sovereignty” on Saturday.

Zanu-PF Deputy Secretary for Youth, Cde Kudzai Chipanga, said many youths benefited from the country’s land reform programme and could now access funds to venture into income generating projects without being required to produce title deeds.

“We applaud Government for allocating land to youths because when one has land, they are economically empowered.

“The Ministry of Youths, Indigenisation and Economic Empowerment is also assisting youths to access loans so that they can become employers, which could not be achieved before independence and that is considered a positive development. We are still advocating for more youths to benefit from the land reform programme. Farms that are still occupied by white people need to be allocated to youths who do not have land. We need to call it a day for white people and ensure that the land is given to youths and women,” said Cde Chipanga.

Cde Chipanga said since independence, there was now more youth representation in Parliament, more youth Ministers in the Cabinet and more councillors.

He said youths below 35 years of age were also being accepted in the executive of the Zanu-PF Youth League.

“President Robert Mugabe has also been at the forefront of empowering youths in schools through his computerisation and scholarship programme, which has benefited many youths in the country,” said Cde Chipanga.

Zimbabwe Commercial Farmers Union (ZCFU) president, Mr Wonder Chabikwa, said the attainment of land by black people was a huge achievement of independence as agriculture production was now in the hands of locals. Mr Chabikwa said before independence, there were only two agriculture colleges in the country offering diplomas and certificates and now there was an agriculture college in almost all provinces of the country.

“Government should create medium to long term plans for irrigation schemes and there is also need for modern machinery in order for farmers to fully utilise the land allocated to them,” he said.

Affirmative Action Group (AAG) president, Mr Chamu Chiwanza, said more black people now controlled companies, which was a huge achievement of independence.

“Many black people have come to control many companies in the country and the country has produced young brilliant entrepreneurs under the leadership of President Mugabe.

Children of Zimbabwe National Liberation of War Veterans Association secretary for information Cde Sympathy Pasipanodya, said it was important to honour the sacrifice made by the freedom fighters.

“As the children of war vets we want to honour and remember the history where thousands of freedom fighters perished during the liberation struggle at Chimoio National Shrine in Mozambique in 1977 hence our visit there. As descendants of liberation fighters, it is of paramount importance that we celebrate our history,” he said.

Zicosu vice president Mr Stanely Moyo said the country had made strides in improving the education sector.

“We want to have a Zimbabwe Independence and ideological education students conference as part of the independence celebration so that we conscintise each other as students on the importance of our history and culture. We also urge all students to attend celebrations in solidarity and peace,” he said.

Zimbabwe Association for Widows of National Heroes chairperson Violet Madzimbamuto said: “It is independence to us as widows of national heroes and it’s exciting and at the same time bring back sad memories of the long and bitter journey of liberation. Our independence did not come on a silver platter.

“We need to guard it jealously and we must shun corrupt activities and work towards building our economy. We have benefited from the freedom that we are enjoying as women today including the strides that have been made achieving gender equality.”