Promises vs. Progress: Zimbabweans React to Mnangagwa’s Independence Day Speech

As Zimbabwe marked 44 years of Independence yesterday, President Emmerson Mnangagwa delivered a speech to rally the nation behind his vision for the country’s future.

However, the speech was met with mixed reactions, with some citizens hailing it while others dismissed it as empty rhetoric. 

The question lingering for many Zimbabweans is whether the government can fulfill its promises of economic development and political stability. 

In his address, President Mnangagwa highlighted the country’s bright economic outlook citing a GDP exceeding $47 billion.

He highlighted the work done during the El Nino–induced challenges and underscored the strides made in infrastructure development, prioritising civil servants’ welfare, and empowering women and communities through funding small and medium enterprises among other issues. 

However, discussing the speech on This Morning on Asakhe, a CITE daily current affairs programme on X, participants were not convinced.

Participants, such as Mzansi Kandaba, criticised the government’s focus on road construction in Mashonaland, neglecting development in Matabeleland. 

“The reality is that in Matabeleland we haven’t experienced any independence since the inception of independence, we know what happened in Matabeleland. The government has moved to another stage of Gukurahundi of depriving Matabeleland of resources, the roads are not developed in Matabeleland.” 

“All the roads which are being developed and the development which he spoken about is happening in Mashonaland, currently we have a problem with the Nkayi road and nobody is saying anything about that. We have a problem also with Beitbridge- Bulawayo Road, we only ask two things from the government that they can fix those two roads,” he said. 

On road rehabilitation, the government is in the process of rehabilitating the Bulawayo-Victoria Falls highway.

Another speaker, Namaphahla blamed the ruling party, ZANU–PF, for giving citizens small handouts so that they remain hopeful. 

“The things that are being said are like the music in our ears, no one is going to be left behind, no one is going to get hungry,” she said. 

She said while President Mnangagwa highlighted some positives in his speech, those are, however, overshadowed by ZANU-PF’s incompetence.  

Another speaker, Njabulo remarked that the President’s speech echoed promises made since 2018, questioning the contrasting narrative of economic growth amid challenges like drought. 

“When you listen to the speech, he spoke about issues to do with our GDP, he said we are now sitting at 47 billion and he spoke about how the mining sector is doing well in terms of both the local players and external players that have come in and invested in the mining sector. He spoke about the past year saying it was a good year in terms of production. He went on to speak about the El Nino induced drought, one of the things that really amazes me about the whole speech is the fact that we are doing well and doing bad at the same time in the very same speech.” 

“We are doing well in terms of us as a country that we have grown in our GDP, we are doing well in terms of the mining sector if the mining sector is doing well it means we have done well in terms of collecting taxes and revenues, it means as a country we should be able to take care of ourselves in terms of feeding our population especially when we have hit a brick like this one where we know we have drought which has come through,” he said. 

However, Khumbulani Maphosa argued that there is a need to redefine independence. 

“We need to define the term independence, freedom is not about the elimination of a settler colonial regime, it is measured by the indicators of the freedoms that the ordinary citizens are getting and as an ordinary citizen I don’t get those freedoms, things are changed without the consultation of the people,” said Maphosa. 

However, a contrasting view highlighted progress under President Mnangagwa’s leadership, citing verifiable economic growth and international validation through the International Monetary Fund (IMF).  

“These are numbers that are not cooked up, all economist across the World verifies them, Zimbabwe is on a monitored program by the IMF so Zimbabwe is not lying when they are saying the economy has grown and there is a lot of significant progress that has been happening under President Mnangagwa because he has not been in power for 44 years, he has only been in power since 2017 up until now. Those people that come up and ignorantly say that Mnangagwa has been given the same speech for 44 years, I think they naturally hate Zimbabwe,” he said. 

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