Zimbabweans say the current harsh economic situation in the country has almost eroded most gains of independence as some of them now appear to be worse off than before the nation was liberated from British rule.
As the country prepares to mark its 36th independence anniversary, they say black majority rule has become a curse to most citizens that are struggling to make ends meet while facing a hostile social and political environment.
Some Zimbabweans have suffered to the extent that they now believe that colonial ruler Ian Douglas Smith was far much better than the current ruling Zanu PF party led by President Robert Mugabe.
But others dismiss this as baseless, noting that the Smith regime was racist as it treated blacks like second class citizens. Backers of this school of thought further argue that independence from colonial rule liberated them from one of the most oppressive systems in the world - racism.
Alice Mukonoweshuro is convinced that the current black government is worse than the racist Smith regime. As a result, he believes that Zimbabweans are worse off today than when they were under the colonial rulers.
“Independence to us means nothing. It is meaningless. We do not have jobs and the children we sent to school are not working. We are struggling for food every day. Almost everything is depressing. We have nothing to celebrate for otherwise things have gone worse than before. So independence is nothing to us, completely nothing because we are suffering more than before.”
STRUGGLING TO MAKE ENDS MEET
Thirty-six year-old Kudakwashe Maisiri, a general dealer who sells all sorts of goods in Zimbabwe’s capital city despite having a diploma in nursing, shares the same sentiments.
Maisiri says, “Looking at my father, what he managed to achieve when he was my age and what I have achieved it is totally different. I cannot say I am living the life I wanted to live. Independence is really of no significance.”
Andrison Kufakunesu, another Harare resident, adds that the country has not recorded any meaning social and economic development since independence in 1980.
Kufakusenu says, “For me there is no independence in Zimbabwe. People are forced to do what they do not want like companies forced to remit 51% to local people, that is not independence. We have Zim Asset which does not benefit everyone but only those who hold Zanu PF cards.
“MDC people do not have independence, even when they want to do their political activism they have to apply to the police and most of the times the police do not allow them.”
The Zimbabwe Agenda for Social and Economic Transformation or ZimAsset is the country’s economic blue-print mooted by the ruling Zanu PF party before the 2013 general election, which it won though the results have been disputed by opposition parties. They claim that the elections were rigged by the ruling party.
Zanu PF promised to create 2 million jobs under this economic blue print.
For Svorai Chimuriwo, independence without a sound economy is just as bad as not having independence.
It is useless to celebrate on the 18th of April because with the current situation we are in right now independence is meaningless. If you look at the economy, it is not good. Independence is a day we were freed but the situation we are facing, the suffering really there is no independence.”
Harare Central Member of Parliament Murisi Zwizwai of the MDC-T formation agrees, stressing that the country’s independence has just become a meaningless calendar day.
Zwizwai says, “Independence has just remained as a calendar date. It has changed from that very much celebrated day when people would celebrate their freedom, good life, happiness, democracy, good education and medicine in hospitals but now that is all gone.
“It is Independence that comes coincidentally like now where people cannot even access their money in banks, unemployment is rampant. It has just become a calendar year date which has lost its significance, importance ….”
‘INDEPENDENCE WORTH CELEBRATING’
But Emilia Machacha disagrees, arguing that though the economy is almost on its knees and people are struggling to make ends meet, it is still worth celebrating Independence Day.
“Independence is of much importance. It is a day that should be considered by everyone as we celebrate the freedom that we have. The peace and joy that we enjoy today is because some people had to sacrifice their lives, so it is of much importance.”
Zimbabweans had high hopes of achieving a lot of social, economic and political goals before and after independence. Some people now think that the future is bleak under the Zanu PF government though others believe that Mr. Mugabe’s government will normalize the situation in the near future.