Zimbabwe’s economic malaise, endemic corruption and shrinking democratic space have dampened the significance of Independence Day celebrations, opposition politicians have said.
Zimbabwe attained its Independence from Britain on April 18, 1980, and celebrates its 41st anniversary on Sunday, with analysts saying there is little to celebrate as the citizens are still to enjoy certain rights and attain economic emancipation.
In an interview, a member of the MDC Alliance, Abednico Bhebhe, accused the Zanu-PF led government of being the major obstacle.
“Independence is something which we cannot rule out as a country but now is not worth celebrating. Zanu-PF is an obstacle towards the real fulfilment of what people fought for,” he emphasised.
Zimbabwe’s Independence will be celebrated under the theme: “ Zim @41 Together Growing the Economy for a Prosperous Resilient and Inclusive Society.”
The former Nkayi South legislator noted some liberators who had participated in the liberation struggle had now become oppressors of the same people they fought for.
The outspoken politician pointed out that anyone celebrating Independence Day would be celebrating poverty and the government’s undemocratic tendencies.
“To some, they celebrate the death of our economy, they celebrate the death of democracy and the tormenting of our people especially opposition members,” Bhebhe said.
Mthwakazi Republic Party leader, Mqondisi Moyo, shared similar sentiments with Bhebhe, saying it was not yet Uhuru for people, especially those from marginalised areas..
“The so-called Independence Day has only benefited Zanu-PF since 1980. Mthwakazi is yet to be independent because we cannot celebrate our demise. Zimbabwe’s independence means our subjugation, continued oppression and suppression. Celebrating the so-called Zimbabwe independence is tantamount to celebrating the 1983 to 1987 genocide,” he said.
Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) Zimbabwe president Innocent Ndibali weighed in saying economically, the majority of Zimbabweans were yet to be independent.
“Yes, politically we are independent but the majority of our people are outside the economic mainstay of the country. It is only a few Zanu-PF connected blacks who have been economically empowered through land and other interventions,” Ndibali said.
The EFF leader called for a more deliberate and robust economic empowerment for blacks especially those in marginalized communities like Matabeleland.
This year’s independence celebrations will be done virtually due to the Covid-19 pandemic.