Who owns Zimbabwe? Who benefited from the freedoms attained after the liberation struggle? Zimbabwe turned 36 on April 18 but so many questions remain unanswered. Independence Day celebrations are always a time to reflect and Zimbabwean state newspapers have decided to use the rather misleading catch line “So far so good”. What has been so great about the last couple of years is something they will have to tell the masses. In “celebration” of the day, various Whatsapp messages have done the rounds one saying, “Happy Birthday Zimbabwe and get well soon. We wish you a speedy recovery.” The people love their country. The people are patriotic but patriotism does not bring food to the table and people acknowledge it now. In the meantime, the leadership blames everything on “illegal sanctions”, even the closure of bakeries! Has the independence from colonialism been worth it? Whose independence is it anyway?Happy Birthday Zimbabwe and get well soon. We wish you a speedy recovery.
A couple of weeks ago, the war veterans of the liberation struggle met the President of Zimbabwe to air their grievances. They asked for school fees, land and mining concessions and a 20% quota in all indigenisation deals. Their wish list was too ambitious and exposed a level of self-entitlement that left the whole nation short for words. That Zimbabwe is a broke nation is common cause. Is it not the same country that had $217 in the bank in 2013? Now in 2016, when banks are now limiting withdrawals to a paltry US$500 because there is no money around, the war veterans found it a wise idea to ask for numerous benefits that have fiscal implications. One might argue that they are people suffering from the same economic turbulence so they need the government to bail them out but what they asked for was a little excessive. All for what? All because they fought for the country! It therefore seems the freedom achieved was for a select few to get mining concessions and shares in companies. Is this the socialism that drove the struggle? It is hard to tell.
It is sad that $15 billion would disappear in a country like Zimbabwe in the financial throws does not even seem suspect and should not be questioned. The highly functional democracy of South Africa almost impeached Zuma for a fraction of the amount missing in Zimbabwe (US$23 million). Silvanos Mudzvova will know better than to show discontent when $15 billion disappears. He staged a one man play titled, Missing Diamonds, I Need My Share inspired by the disappearance and he earned himself a one way ticket to a very uncomfortable cell. The law that was used to charge him was the Censorship and Entertainment Control Act, an edifice of the pre-independence oppressive Smith regime. Why it is even still in the statute books is a wonder. Doc Vikela, a famous comedian in Zimbabwe expressed his discontent in wording so instructive it should be quoted, “We need to be respected as artists and if there is no respect, so where is the freedom and independence?” That it happened a week before the Independence Day celebrations is an irony people will choose to ignore but it is telling! It is not fair that a constitutionally elected government would not expect to be called to account for the loss of such an amount.
The few people who got land should be thankful. Some officials have countless farms and they are never there, they are busy “cell phone farming” and expect to feed the nation. The Guardian reported that in 2010, the ruling party bigwigs held 40% of land seized from white farmers. Some of the people who got the farms have no experience what-so-ever in farming. They should be playing football for the national team or representing the country in marathons and yet they are beneficiaries of land-reform. On what basis? Recently, News24 reported that the officials’ looting spree is still as strong as every as two Zanu-PF lawmakers hit out at Provincial Minister Shuvai Mahofa for looting food aid meant for poor villagers in the drought hit Masvingo province. The lawmakers alleged they had been barred from collecting their share of at least 1,169 tons of maize by Tongaat Hullet as part of its social responsibility initiatives. Such pathetic and clear greed prejudicing the masses is what most politicians are known for. In reality, the freedom earned belongs to a few.
“Someday it will be good” is the better mantraThe one reason Zimbabwean youths may celebrate Independence in the country is hope. There is a hope that things will get better. “So far so good” is an insult to everyone’s intelligence but “Someday it will be good” is the better mantra. There are so many black empowerment policies in the country that should be uplifting the masses but instead, a select elite has arisen from the plebeian masses to take over the positions whites once occupied. This means most potential benefits to the people are being redirected to the fat cats. In the meantime, freedom belongs to the few who fought for it. For the rest of the country, the only change has been that of who oppresses them, the suppressive system is still the same. At least the previous suppressive system was good at economics.