As thousands of Zimbabweans gathered in Harare on Monday to celebrate 31 years of independence, President Robert Mugabe rebuked Western nations for what he called “bullying the world” and deplored political violence in his own country.
Mr. Mugabe took his customary swipe at Britain and the United States, accusing them of proposing to dictate to African nations, accusing the West of violating the United Nations charter on peace and security by using military force in the Libyan conflict.
Mr. Mugabe defended the 2008 Global Political Agreement for power sharing, contending it has been implemented in full contrary to the complaints of the co-governing Movement for Democratic Change formation of Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai.
Spokesman Nhlanhla Dube of the MDC formation led by Industry Minister Welshman Ncube told VOA Studio 7 reporter Sithandekile Mhlanga that his party observed the day by attempting to visit jailed National Healing Co-Minister Moses Mzila-Ndlovu, arrested late last week for comments referring to Matabeleland massacres of the 1980s.
But Lupane police refused to let party officials see the Bulilima West lawmaker.
Dube said independence in Zimbabwe 31 years later remains a mirage.
Political analyst and John Makumbe told VOA reporter Jonga Kandemiiri that President Mugabe’s toned down speech and defense of power sharing reflect the tougher stance adopted recently by leaders of the Southern African Development Community.
In South Africa, Zimbabwean activists and human rights defenders called the anniversary a non-event, accusing some of those who liberated the country - a reference to Mr. Mugabe and his ZANU-PF - of blocking economic and political independence.
Zimbabweans in Britain protested outside the Zimbabwean embassy in London against political violence and continued arrests of Mugabe opponents.
Zimbabwe Vigil Coordinator Rose Benton, an organizer, said a petition was left at the door of the Zimbabwean Embassy, which was closed for the national holiday
Amnesty International expressed concern that the government is not addressing human rights violations. Amnesty said Harare has committed itself to protect human rights but continues to violate a range of documents and agreements on this point.
Amnesty International Zimbabwe Researcher Simeon Mwanza said Zimbabwe must quickly address its record on human rights as the nation moves forward.
In Independence Day sports events, Highlanders defeated Dynamos 4-3 to claim the 2011 Independence Cup on penalties after the teams ended full time drawn 0-0.
Highlanders walked away US$25,000 richer; Dynamos pocketed US$7,000.
Contending for third and fourth place in Bulawayo, Gunners bested Motor Action 9-8 on penalties to collect US$5,000. Motor Action came away with US$3,000.