THE MDC formations have blasted what they see as an attempt by President Robert Mugabe’s Zanu PF party to “privatise” the Independence Day commemorations adding the current economic and social strife is a betrayal of the liberation struggle.
Zimbabwe celebrates 32 years of independence from colonial rule on Wednesday amid deepening policy and other divisions in a coalition government which has made little progress in addressing the country’s economic and social problems since assuming office in 2009.
Unemployment remains high as the major economic sectors struggle to recover from the crisis of the last decade while education, health and other social services – the major milestones of the immediate post-independence era – also remain in the mire.
President Robert Mugabe, one of the key figures in the fight against settler colonial rule, blames sanctions imposed by former ruler Britain and her Western allies for Zimbabwe’s problems. He claims he is being punished for redressing historic imbalances in the distribution of land – one of the major reasons for the independence struggle.
The Zanu PF leader has however, vowed to complete the independence project by ensuring that the country's economy is in the hands of the black majority through his party’s economic empowerment policy under which foreign companies must transfer control of at least 51 percent of their Zimbabwe assets to locals.
“We are living in the afternoon, if not in the evening of our lives and those who are still in the morning of their lives will have the benefits we are fighting for. They do not have to toil as we have done. It would be much easier for them to proceed into the future,” Mugabe said Tuesday.
But political rivals who now partner Mugabe in the fractious coalition government accuse the Zanu PF leader and his party of betraying the values of the country’s liberation struggle.
Said MDC leader and Industry and Commerce Minister Welshman Ncube: “We are aware that as a nation we never fought for poverty, we never spent all that time in the struggle fighting for corruption which we selflessly condemned even during our struggle.
“We therefore condemn it today even from those that seek to apportion themselves the credit of the liberation struggle yet on daily basis betray it.”
Prime Minister and MDC-T leader Morgan Tsvangirai said hopes for economic growth and prosperity after the attainment of independence were soon dashed as “repression, violence and looting” became the order of the day.
“We all expected our leaders to return our dignity by crafting policies that benefit the ordinary citizen and poise the country for economic growth and development,” Tsvangirai said in a statement Tuesday.
“Contrary to expectations, the new leadership did not take long to betray the very values central to the liberation struggle. Repression, violence and looting became the order of the day.”
The MDC-T leader – who has previously boycotted the event -- vowed to attend Wednesday’s celebrations at Harare’s National Sports Stadium insisting Zanu PF should not be allowed to “privatise” the occasion.
“We will attend because we will not allow Zanu PF to privatise this day,” Tsvangirai said.
"We refuse to be chucked out of a national day which has nothing to do with Zanu PF but has everything to do with the collective history of all Zimbabweans in their diversity. So we will be there to pay tribute to the gallant sons and daughters of Zimbabwe who sacrificed everything to free this country."
Tsvangirai and Ncube joined government after Zimbabwe’s neighbours intervened to prevent the country’s political and economic crisis engulfing the whole region following violent but inconclusive elections in 2008.
But the coalition administration has made little progress in implementing political reforms and shepherding economic recovery, riven as it is by deep policy differences that have not been helped by the fact that its vey tenancy at Munhumutapa Building – the seat of government – was meant to be temporary.
“Today, even in the wake of an inclusive government, policy and ideological discord at the instigation of some elements in this government have meant a further betrayal of the people’s aspirations,” Tsvangirai said.
“We have disagreed in this government because there are others who want to perpetuate the old culture of expropriation, looting and self-aggrandizement clad in new and misleading nomenclature such as “indigenisation.”
Both Zanu PF and the MDC formations concede that they have failed to work together and that fresh polls are needed to choose a substantive government; but that is where the agreement ends.
While Zanu PF insists new elections must be held this year and that a free and fair poll is possible under the current constitution, the MDCs want the Independence charter replaced and more extensive political reforms completed first.
Implementation of reforms, the MDC’s argue, would help ensure that the violence of 2008 is not repeated and that the outcome of the ballot is not contested.
“The MDC is aware that we fought for a country where all Zimbabweans will exercise their rights without fear. As a party we believe that the political violence and intimidation together with unfree and unfair elections are a mockery to a just and fair Zimbabwe that we fought for,” Ncube said.