As Zimbabwe celebrates 31 years of Independence it is important for us to ask ourselves some important questions as we continue our journey towards freedom.
The most important question to ask ourselves is whether we are actually independent.
Are we actually free or did we replace a repressive white colonial system with a repressive black government?
The very fact that we cannot enjoy the freedom that so many Zipra and Zanla combatants fought and died for is testimony to this.
Did Ziyaphapha Moyo and Josiah Magama Tongogara fight and die for worshippers in Harare to be tear gassed at prayer services for victims of violence?
Did Leopold Takawira and Samuel Parirenyatwa die so that black government would arrest priests and pastors in Lupane for daring to speak the truth about Gukurahundi and the June 2008 violence?
Did Alfred Nikita Mangena and Edson Sithole die for a black government, led by black people to arrest people for talking about national healing and human rights?
Did Joshua Mqabuko Nkomo and Robert Gabriel Mugabe spend ten years in jail in order for a black government to displace thousands of black people under Operation Murambatsvina?
Did William Ndangana and Swazini Ndlovu fight for a black government to slaughter twenty thousand blacks in Matabeleland after independence?
Who detained Zipra commanders, Dumiso Dabengwa and Mafela Masuku for four years after a competent court of law had dropped charges against them and acquitted them?
It was not the racist and fascist white government of Ian Smith, it was a black government, after independence. Look out Masuka led the armed struggle from the front and survived it.
He did not die after years of detention by a white government but he died of brain hemorrhage after years of illegal detention at the hands of a black government Moses Mzila-Ndlovu, co minister of Natioanal Healing, Integration and Reconciliation was recently arrested for addressing an unauthorised meeting in Lupane.
Mzila-Ndlovu is a veteran of the Zimbabwean armed struggle and fought for the liberation of this country.
Today he languishes in a cell of a black government whose right to rule he fought for many years.
Akim Ndlovu, Teurai Ropa Nhongo now Joice Mujuru, Rex Nhongo (Solomon Mujuru) and Amos Jack Ngwenya, fought for black majority rule yet in June 2008 thousands of MDC activists were beaten and tortured for exercising their right to belong to an alternative political party, of their choice. Josiah Chinamano, Joseph Msika and Oppah Muchinguri did not fight for everybody to become members of their party but for every Zimbabwean to choose which political party they want to belong to without fear or favour.
Herbert Chitepo and Joshua Nkomo declared during the struggle the war was not against the whites but against an oppressive system.
Almost 50 years later, Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai, MDC leader Welshman Ncube, Zapu’s Dumiso Dabengwa, NCA’s Lovemore Madhuku and hundreds of other activists are still fighting against a system that criminalises freedom of expression and association.
The very people that set us free have become our oppressors, they have inherited the same system that Ian Smith used to ban political activities and to suppress free speech.
They believe the fact they fought for the country gives them title deeds to the country.
The colonialists invented oppression in Zimbabwe, but Zanu PF has perfected it, all in the name of defending the territorial integrity and sovereignty of the nation.
Zimbabwe does not belong to Zanu PF, Zimbabwe does not belong to MDC-T or MDC or Zapu. Zimbabwe belongs to all the people who live in it Ndebele, Shona, Nambya, White or black.
This country is too great to be monopolised by one political party, tribe or race. There is no virtue in replacing white repression with black repression.
Public Order and Security Act, Access to Information and Protection of Privacy Act other repressive laws are as evil as the Law and Order Act which the colonialists used to repress black nationalism.
The oppressors think that oppression is okay as long as it is practiced by a black government.
We as Zimbabweans say no to this. Oppression is oppression regardless of the colour of the oppressor and regardless of the colour of prison bars. Even if bars in prison are made of gold, it does not justify arbitrary arrests and oppression.
The law may not be on our side but justice is and justice cannot be trampled upon forever, because God is on the side of the oppressed and the weak.
Unjust laws will not live forever, neither can dictatorships as we have seen in North Africa.
We do not seek revenge but justice. Freedom can no longer be delayed by arbitrary arrests, selective application of the law and suppressing the freedoms of the people.
Freedom cannot be contained by the walls of Chikurubi or Khami Maximum Prisons. Freedom cannot be stopped by unjust laws and disruption of meetings held by civic groups.
As Nkomo wrote in his autobiography “freedom lies ahead” in spite of the turbulence and hardships of the moment.
Freedom not just for the oppressed, but also for the oppressor. Nelson Mandela noted that the oppressor also needs to be set free.
The oppressor needs to be set free from fear, the naked fear that grips and stalks him day and night.
Dumisani O Nkomo is an activist and opinion leader. He can be contacted on email@example.com