Since time immemorial, there has always been a price tag for everything. While money is today the primary means to acquire basic things, greater things are often purchased by tears, sweat and blood.
This was the price that Zimbabwe had to pay for its independence – an independence, which was born on 18 April, 1980, after a gruesome liberation struggle – one of the worst ever witnessed in Africa.
Independence Day is an occasion to remind ourselves that it was through the sacrifices of our gallant freedom fighters that Zimbabwe today enjoys racial harmony, freedom, peace, unity and tranquility.
Over and above the foregoing, it is important for us as a people to remember that the democracy that we have today which, sad to say, is being abused left, right and centre by some of us, was watered by the blood, sweat and tears of selfless men and women, who abandoned school, university and their jobs while they were still young.
While some of these young men and women were quite comfortable in their respective situations, they realised that their comfort was hollow without independence.
So they departed to Mozambique, Zambia, Angola and Tanzania, where they received military training, which enabled them to wage the armed struggle until independence was finally attained.
This year’s Independence Day celebrations are unique and special as they come after the revolutionary party, under the capable and unwavering leadership of President Emmerson Dambudzo Mnangagwa walloped the MDC-Alliance, led by Nelson Chamisa in the watershed elections held on the 30th of July, 2018.All matters being equal, it is important to emphasise that the major reason why the gallant sons and daughters of Zimbabwe took up arms and waged the armed struggle was to give land back to its rightful owners, the indigenous citizenry.
It is the strong contention of this scribe that every citizen of this beautiful country, especially the so-called born-frees, should acquaint themselves with the country’s history in order to understand where we came from, where we are today and where we are going as a nation.
In 1890, the British, through the British South African Company (BSAC), invaded this country and claimed a huge stake of our natural resources and livelihood- a situation which saw our forefathers resisting and facing brutality from the colonial invaders. The white settlers employed stringent legislation to expropriate our forefathers’ cattle; they also imposed hefty taxes, appropriate land and exert fines.
Our forefathers went through traumatic and polarising experiences. They were brutalised, tortured and massacred by the white settlers. Armed with spears, our forefathers bravely fought the intruders. Sadly though, they were defeated because the white settlers had superior weaponry.Come 1923, the colonial government was born and our country became a colony of Britain.
Be that as it may, in the 1960s our gallant heroes took up arms against the Rhodesians, which saw the country attain its independence on 18 April, 1980. After the defeat of the colonial regime, the British government, under Margaret Thatcher, made an undertaking at the Lancaster House Conference in 1979 to compensate all white farmers, whose land would be acquired by the Zimbabwe Government through land reforms.
However, the British government in 1997, now under Tony Blair, reneged on Mrs Thatcher’s pledge to channel funds towards land reforms in Zimbabwe. This finally forced the country’s war veterans and the rural peasantry to occupy farms owned by white commercial farmers in 2000.
Faced with this scenario, the Zimbabwe Government swiftly moved in to regularise and legitimise land acquisition and redistribution through the Land Acquisition Amendment Act in 2002. This saw land being redistributed to over 400 000 families, who had previously been relegated to the peripheries of their own productive land by colonial masters for well over a century.
Zimbabwe has a total land area of 39 million hectares, of which 33,3 million hectares are reserved for agrarian purposes. Prior to the launching of land reforms , a mere 4 500 white commercial farmers owned over 12 million hectares of the best arable land in regions one, two and three, which receive plenty of rain during the rainy season while blacks were packed like sardines in a tin on small pieces of arid land.
In implementing land reforms, Zimbabwe invited the ire of western imperialists, who imposed punitive economic sanctions against the country. These sanctions are illegal as they were not imposed by the UN, but by a handful of Western and European nations eager to protect the interests of their white kith and kin, who lost land during the land reform exercise.
It is worth noting that the land dispute between Zimbabwe and Britain has its origins in the colonisation of the country by the British. Astonishingly though, this was hijacked by the US, the EU, Australia and other hostile nations and upgraded to be a matter of human rights and the rule of law. And yet, this was simply a dispute between Britain and Zimbabwe over land reforms.
Western nations need to be told, in no uncertain terms, that the land reform programme can no longer be a matter of discussion because the people of Zimbabwe will not allow anyone to deny them their birthright which they reclaimed after a bitter liberation struggle.
As I see it, the imposition and renewal of sanctions on Zimbabwe is an overt declaration of war and reveals the pathetic extent to which some imperial powers have become desperate. In all honesty, what satisfaction do western nations derive from the suffering of ordinary Zimbabweans?
What can easily be discerned from all this is that there is some reluctance on the part of Western nations to accept that Zimbabwe is now a sovereign state and has the right to determine its own destiny. It should also be mentioned here that the imposition of sanctions against Zimbabwe has nothing to do with democracy or good governance, but more to do with greed for Zimbabwe’s resources.
Indeed, it defeats all facets of common sense and logic that some Zimbabweans – the likes of Nelson Chamisa, Tendai Biti – actually support the imposition of sanctions against their own country, notwithstanding the fact that the sanctions are causing misery and suffering among the commonality of Zimbabwean people.
It is quite clear, to all and sundry, that the leadership of the MDC-Alliance succumbed to the temptation to support the ruinous sanctions with the mistaken belief that this is the quickest way to get rid of President Mnangagwa and Zanu-PF.
Lest we forget, the MDC-Alliance is a fragile collection of different interest groups that have conveniently joined forces with one goal – to remove President Mnangagwa and Zanu-PF from power, by hook or by crook, at the behest of the West.
Parting shot: As the nation celebrates Independence Day today, the onus is thus on this generation, and indeed posterity, to continue to jealously uphold, guard and defend the gains of our blood-purchased independence.
–Cuthbert Mavheko is a freelance journalist based in Bulawayo and has contributed articles and short-stories to the Chronicle, Sunday News and other publications. Contact details: Mobile 0773 963 448; e-mail [email protected]