Editorial Comment: Let’s celebrate with dignity

zimplogoZimbabweans are a proud and courageous people who liberated themselves through the barrel of the gun, defeating a fascist colonial system that misruled them for 90 forgettable years.Successive whites-only governments had governed with an iron fist and on the basis of racial superiority.  They took away the humanity of blacks, their independence and freedom, their land and everything they held dear. They enacted unjust laws to legalise the illegalities that white rule personified.

Zimbabweans rose against the despotism, first in 1896, but were savaged into submission. They went underground thereafter but in the late 1940s started a resistance that, essentially, sought better opportunities for blacks, without necessarily seeking the outright overthrow of the colonial system. Still the settlers would not budge.

In the 1950s and early 1960s, blacks organised themselves better when forming political parties like the Southern Rhodesia African National Congress and the National Democratic Party and Zapu. They were routinely banned as soon as they were formed.

Noticing that demonstrations alone would not bring about independence, blacks led by the likes of Cde Mugabe and the late Vice-President Joshua Nkomo, through Zanu and Zapu respectively, hardened their resistance by taking up a military approach. With the help of China, Russia, Cuba, former Yugoslavia, Tanzania, Mozambique and Zambia, among other countries, the settler resistance was crushed.  Independence came on April 18 1980, a few months after a settlement at Lancaster House in London that Ian Smith; unable to stand a military onslaught on two fronts, simply had to sign. That is the historic, heroic feat that Zimbabwe celebrates today. It is a proud moment and words cannot sufficiently explain its profound significance to us.

We have scored innumerable achievements during the past 34 years.  The first one is political independence whose attainment has enabled us to seek more wholesome independence.

Zimbabwe has defended that political independence since 1980 by successively voting for Zanu-PF, the only political party that fought for it and has the capacity and natural obligation to defend it. Voting for any other party would have meant a reversal of that fundamental gain.

Over the past 34 years, successive Zanu-PF and Zanu-PF-led governments have promoted majority access to education, health, jobs, housing and many socio-political opportunities.

To gain political independence in 1980, Zimbabweans had to prosecute a 16-year war that, regrettably, claimed tens of thousands of combatants and innocent civilians.

To attain economic independence, Zimbabweans have had to go to what amounts to a war by another name as the same people who enjoyed colonially-inspired dominance of the economy and its attendent benefits would not leave without a fight.

Effectively, a deliberate effort for blacks to reclaim their economy started in 2000 with the fast track land reform and redistribution programme. The Third Chimurenga had a revolutionary approach that saw 12 million hectares of land previously in the hands of 3,500 beneficiaries of colonialism and illegal Rhodesian rule, being allocated to 276,000 blacks. By saying this, we must emphasise, we are not suggesting that the first and second phases of the same programme that ran from around 1980 to 1998 and 1998 to 2000 were not geared towards realising economic freedom.  They indeed were, and were good as a starting point in the circumstances of the immediate post-war era, but had the weakness of being based on the willing-buyer-willing-seller system.

Zanu-PF consolidated the quest for economic freedom by enacting the Indigenisation and Economic Empowerment Act of 2007 targeting 14 key sectors of the economy in which indigenous Zimbabweans must own at least 51 percent in shareholding.

Section 14 (1) of the Constitution strengthens this piece of legislation. “The State and all institutions and agencies of government at every level must endeavour to facilitate and take measures to empower, through appropriate, transparent, fair and just affirmative action, all marginalised persons, groups and communities in Zimbabwe,” it says.

This policy has found practical expression. By December, 59 community share ownership trusts and 125 employee share ownership schemes had been set up countrywide. Through these two approaches to indigenisation and economic empowerment, hundreds of thousands of indigenous people are benefiting from community trusts, while thousands more have become part owners of companies for which they were mere workers.

That Zimbabwe has not collapsed despite the sustenance of illegal sanctions since 2001, not by small economies, but by those that control the global economy, is a feat worth cherishing as well.

Zimbabwe has scored tremendous achievements over the past 34 years under very difficult circumstances. Therefore today is our day to celebrate, looking back with pride and looking ahead with hope.

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