IT is nearly four decades after Zimbabwe broke free from the shackles of colonial rule. The bulk of African countries that were under the yoke of colonialism either from the British or the Portuguese, like Zimbabwe, have been freed from foreign domination.
Guest column: Learnmore Zuze
Zambia, Mozambique and South Africa are now free, at least politically, from white influence. A distinct feature separating Zimbabwe from most independent African countries seems to be the economic free-fall that has continued unabated, resulting from political crises and the blighting reality that the ruling Zanu PF party remains in power even after failure to revive the country’s economic fortunes. Zimbabwe has known one rule — that of Zanu PF.
Zanu PF, the revolutionary party that fought the British rule, remained at the helm of the country under former President Robert Mugabe. While Zimbabweans at large celebrated independence in 1980, no one had seen the disaster that would follow some years down the line.
Repressive laws under the racist white rule were hated, but people knew the system was overtly oppressive and, therefore, white cruelty was fathomable.
Under Ian Smith, lack of freedom and open segregation drove men and women to fight for justice.
Innocent blood was shed in pursuit of democratic ideals; in their thousands, sons and daughters of this land perished in pursuit of democracy.
Our partisan national broadcaster, over the years, has capitalised on the gory images of the maimed and slain former freedom fighters captured on video to whip up emotions against opposition parties.
Now, the question that seems obscured today is why these men and women took up arms against the white minority rule.
The question is why they paid the ultimate price as they fought Smith. Well, there was apparently a combination of factors. Mugabe’s system of propaganda harped only one factor namely land.
When Mugabe had fundamentally destroyed the country’s economy at the turn of the century, he went on a blitz and opened old wounds of the liberation struggle. He, through spin doctors, fed a hapless nation with propaganda-filled jingles promoting land reform.
The man went to every extent possible to sell the idea that the livelihood of Zimbabweans depended on land. While I don’t disagree in principle to the distribution of land, it is the manner of conduct that defeated the cause. The point here is that Zanu PF majored on one factor that precipitated the struggle.
During Mugabe’s reign, very little, in fact, nothing was said in the promotion of justice principles and absolutely nothing was said on the side of the rule of law.
Actually, Mugabe would threaten the Judiciary. In essence, how could a leader who unleashed people to destroy and kill descendants of the whites preach the rule of law?
Mugabe and, indeed, Zanu PF made it appear as though life began and ended with land. The fact of the matter, however, is this: injustice and oppression under white rule, apart from land, was a key contributory factor in men and women taking up arms against white rule.
That many nationalists were illegally kept in detention during the liberation struggle bears testament that there was no rule of law and no respect of human rights by the Smith regime.
Zimbabweans, consequently, fought for freedom, equity and fairness. They fought for the respect of their will. Those who died perished so that they may have a just Zimbabwe where people are not afraid to express their opinions. They died so that the will of Zimbabweans would be respected in any election. The liberation struggle encompassed all virtues.
Fast forwarding to events in the post-Mugabe era, one can only look in wonderment whether this democracy that thousands died for will come someday.
Surely, we can’t be talking of democracy when the opposition continues to be persecuted as we saw happening to MDC Alliance principal Tendai Biti.
Honestly, we are miles away from democracy as long as the Zimbabwe Broadcasting Corporation continues to sound like a megaphone for Zanu PF.
Democracy hasn’t arrived when journalists are harangued during the course of their work. Democracy is a farfetched dream when a supposed national army murders its own citizens.
More importantly, it’s still dusk for Zimbabweans when an electoral body like the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (Zec) acts in a partisan manner and readies to fight the opposition, instead of operating autonomously.
Tomorrow, the world waits with bated breath for the outcome from the Constitutional Court on the MDC Alliance challenge on incumbent Emmerson Mnangagwa’s victory in the July 30 elections. It is sad seeing as it is that Zec, whose need for fairness was critical is prepared to tone down and endorse glaring errors in their system.
We pray for an independent judicious outcome on the ruling by the ConCourt. The democracy that thousands perished for should now come to Zimbabwe. Zimbabweans now want to live in a sanctions-free country. They desire to be ruled by leaders that they have truly chosen. Democracy must now come to Zimbabwe.
Learnmore Zuze is a law officer and writes in his own capacity