Zimbabwe on Sunday will mark 30 years since it became an independent state with black majority rule, but many Zimbabweans are likely to observe the date with some ambivalence given the turmoil the country has seen from the Gukurahundi post-liberation purge of the 1980s to the electoral violence of 2008.
Over that period the Movement for Democratic Change has been the only party to make inroads into the former ZANU-PF political monopoly and it now co-governs uneasily with its former rival. Even now, many in the country are bracing for possible elections in 2011 if a new constitution can be put in place – or if the power-sharing arrangement should fall apart.
For perspective on this 30th anniversary of independence, VOA Studio 7 reporter Patience Rusere spoke with Gordon Chavhunduka, a former University of Zimbabwe vice-chancellor and president of the Zimbabwe Traditional Healers Association, and media consultant Bornwell Chakaodza.
Chavhunduka commented that Zimbabwe has suffered misgovernance for most of the past three decades.
For those Zimbabweans wanting to mark the occasion, Independence festivities kick off Friday with a musical gala at the Harare International Conference Center.
On Saturday President Mugabe is to host a dinner for young Zimbabweans at the Harare City Sports Center and Sunday will deliver the keynote speech during the main ceremonies at the National Sports Stadium.
Celebrations include the Independence Cup soccer final pitting Highlanders against Dynamos.
A spokesman for Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai declined to say whether he would be taking part in the observances Sunday at National Sports Stadium.
"The prime minister will definitely be celebrating independence like all Zimbabweans, but I cannot say at this juncture whether or not he will avail himself at the national sports stadium for the main festivities," his spokesman, James Maridadi, said Thursday.
Elsewhere, at a conference in Washington on "Shaping the Future of Zimbabwe," political analyst Brian Kagoro called for the United States, Britain and other Western countries to set aside their long-standing issues with Mr. Mugabe and shift foreign policies to engage officials in all of the parties in the Harare unity government.
He said Western policies on Zimbabwe should focus on improving life for ordinary Zimbabweans by helping to rebuild the country. Kagoro added that Zimbabweans themselves must dismantle the culture of violence in the country by honestly re-examining their history.