SQUATTERS at Ngozi Mine dumpsite, located between Richmond and Cowdray Park suburbs in Bulawayo, have condemned Independence Day celebrations as “meaningless”.
Report by Khulani Nkabinde
The squatters yesterday told NewsDay that they do not see any reason to celebrate Independence Day given their plight.
“For me Independence Day is just like any other day,” said Leonard Dube, a sculptor by profession.
“People in Bulawayo normally converge at White City Stadium to celebrate Independence Day, but I don’t go there because we have been left out. We don’t have proper houses to live in, so why should we celebrate?”
Dube said even if he went to White City Stadium, he ran the risk of failing to get food there due to “overcrowding”.
“I think the organisers should hold these celebrations in schools so that people don’t overcrowd at the stadium. As for me, I will continue working on my sculptures here at Ngozi Mine,” he said.
Another slum dwellers at the dumpsite, who only identified herself as MaNdebele, said she last attended Independence Day celebrations in 1985.
“Ever since that year, I have never gone to celebrate Independence Day. It is meaningless to me,” she said.
“It is better to cook something and eat with my children here than to go and celebrate. We have suffered a lot hence we live in such an environment as this”.
Another squatter who refused to be identified said Independence Day had been turned into “a political gathering for campaign purposes.”
“I stopped attending Independence Day celebrations 10 years ago when I realised that its purpose had been hijacked by politicians,” he said. “It no longer has value.”
However, Moses Moyo and his nephew Fortune Mdlongwa said they would attend the celebrations today.
“I am very happy about this day,” said Moyo. “I will find out where the celebrations will be held and I will definitely go there.”
Mdlongwa said: “It is an important day for all Zimbabweans. It does not matter which political party you belong to, we all have to celebrate. We are now free.”
Despite being happy, Moyo bemoaned the fact that they have no decent place to stay.
“We were told that we would be moved from here anytime, hence we cannot build proper structures,” he said while harvesting his maize crop.
Bulawayo has over 100 000 people on its housing waiting list.
One of President Robert Mugabe’s promises in 1980 was to provide housing for all, but that has remained a pipe dream for the majority.