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Zimbabwe celebrates it's 26th year of independence from white minority rule on 18 April. The following is an 'Independence Day' message by Arthur Mutambara , leader of a faction of Zimbabwe's opposition Movement for Democratic Change
Fellow Zimbabweans, 18th April 1980 marked the dawn of a new era in our country, the attainment of our independence and freedom from colonial rule. We should salute and celebrate the gallant ZIPRA and ZANLA fighters, who together with ordinary Zimbabweans, ushered in that dispensation.

The war of liberation was an anti-imperialist and anti-colonialist protracted armed struggle, of which the land question was an integral factor. The principles of that struggle included democracy, freedom, liberty, equality, universal suffrage, justice, equity, and socio-economic justice. There should be neither debate nor equivocation on the national importance and historical significance of April 18th 1980.

The struggle for, and liberation of, Zimbabwe was a collective effort. Hence, the liberation war legacy is a shared national legacy. It belongs to all Zimbabweans and all political parties. It is within this context that any political discourse about the state and future of our country should be carried out. All Zimbabwean political parties must be Zimbabwean and African in outlook and activity. We must be freedom fighters and soldiers for social justice and democracy. Our struggle must be a continuation of the liberation war tradition.

Zimbabwean political activists must stand on the shoulders of the founding fathers of this nation; such as Nikita Mangena, Josiah Tongogara, Herbert Chitepo, Leopold Takawira, Joshua Nkomo, and the pre-1980 Robert Mugabe. We must salute and revere Mbuya Nehanda, Sekuru Kaguvi, and King Lobengula. Our parties must be patriotic political formations that cherish and defend our national, regional and Pan-African sovereignty.

State of the Nation

Twenty six years after independence, the people of Zimbabwe are not enjoying the fruits of liberation. Instead, starvation, unemployment, deplorable working conditions, unmitigated suffering, and unprecedented hopelessness have become endemic. There is a litany of challenges: We live in an undeclared state of emergency where our basic freedoms and liberties of assembly, speech, movement, and association are heavily curtailed by repressive legislation. Zimbabweans live in a state of collective fear of violence, hunger, diseases and arrest. Basic and essential commodities are either unavailable or unaffordable. School fees, property rates, rentals and agricultural inputs are beyond reach. The crippling fuel crisis, erratic power supply, destruction of commercial agriculture, food shortages, and lack of housing are devastating the population. Inflation has soared to record levels of 913%, unemployment is above 85%, while poverty levels are above 90%. There is rampant corruption in both the private and public sectors, accentuated by poor public sector and corporate governance.

Industries have either closed or are operating below capacity. Our terms of trade as reflected by our balance of payments, are worsening every day. There is acute foreign currency shortage. Investment spending has also collapsed, thus depressing aggregate demand. Our budget deficits, arising from the Zanu PF regime’s insatiable appetite to spend, have been monetized thus increasing money supply and hence inflation.

An estimated four million Zimbabweans are in desperate need of food while more than 3 500 die a week due to HIV/AIDS related illnesses, including malnutrition. Zimbabweans are now finding it very difficult to access or afford healthcare or to send their children to school. To add insult to injury the Zanu PF regime had the temerity to destroy the homes and livelihood of 20% of the population through the so-called Operation Murambatsvina.

The root cause of the Zimbabwean crisis is the total collapse of the organization and management of our national economy which has led to the acute inability to deliver basic public and social services. In addition, Zimbabwe has become a globally isolated pariah and failed state with a debilitating impact on the performance of business enterprises and public institutions. The Zimbabwean economy is in its 8th year of consecutive economic decline and it is now estimated that our GDP has fallen by over 40% over the last 8 years. Acute economic conditions have driven many Zimbabweans into the Diaspora, where some are living in dehumanizing conditions.

What is so unique about the Zimbabwean economic meltdown is that it is human-made by the misrule, incompetence, dictatorship, corruption and lack of vision of Zanu PF under the leadership of Robert Mugabe. The Zimbabwean people demand better custodians and defenders of their independence and freedom than this regime, whose activities are a negation of the principles and values of the liberation struggle.

The people of Zimbabwe are suffering. They are sick and tired of being sick and tired. They demand solutions now. There is a revolutionary mood pregnant with expectations in the country. The people of Zimbabwe will not accept anything short of a revolution. They do not what change tomorrow; neither do they want it today. They demand it yesterday!

The Vision

"There is a unique opportunity for Zimbabwe to run where others walked. We can thus, leap-frog from the current economic crisis into the globally competitive and knowledge-based economy"

Twenty six years after independence, Zimbabwe is in a crisis that requires generational intervention. A new generation of Zimbabweans must step up to the plate and be counted. History will never absolve them if they do not rise to the challenge. This new mandate is an economic one that seeks to transform Zimbabwe into a globally competitive and high performance economy. It is not enough for Zimbabweans to aspire towards economic recovery, stabilization and survival. We must thrive to rise up and grow into a global economic superstar: the Singapore of Africa! In 1957 the GDP of Singapore was the same as that of Ghana. Today the per capita income of Singapore is greater than those of Germany, France and Britain.

The vision for our country should be for Zimbabwe to become the leading democracy in Africa characterized by people-centered social development and economic growth. Our GDP and per capita income should be in the top three in Africa. We want a society where human rights, individual freedoms, property rights, women rights, workers’ rights, and economic rights are cherished and respected. We want a nation of prosperity, economic opportunities, affordable high quality public services, social justice, equity, and gender justice. We want a country of business growth, productive commercial agriculture, innovative entrepreneurship, creative managers, and productive workers who are well paid.

In order to achieve this vision, Zimbabweans have to develop a strategy (the game plan) that will take them to their desired promised land. This plan consists of the initiatives they have to execute in the penultimate as they struggle towards their vision. The required framework is characterized by a two-pronged strategy dealing with governance and economic issues.

The Governance Imperative

It is imperative to address foundational issues of institution building, and deepening of democratic values and principles in all sectors of our society. We need to develop and live a new democratic culture. This will create the basis for sustainable change that has both form and substance. A new, people-driven democratic constitution is a critical pre-requisite to set the national terms of reference. The process of making that constitution must give confidence to all Zimbabweans that the outcome will reflect their will. A contested document is no foundation for stable governance. Key elements of this constitution should include; effective and functional separation of powers, executive accountability to the legislature, entrenched independence of the judiciary, a fair and transparent electoral framework, strong and effective protection of fundamental freedoms, liberties and human rights, ensuring institutional capacity for such protection.

The legal, electoral and political environment demands the immediate repeal of all repressive laws, such as AIPPA and POSA, so that people can enjoy the full freedoms of information, association and assembly. Any pending anti-democratic and draconian legislation such as the telecommunication interception, anti-terrorism, and elections harmonization efforts must be withdrawn immediately. On harmonization (mooted as Amendment 18 to the Zimbabwean Constitution), the Zanu PF objective is to use its fraudulent two thirds majority in the legislature to change the constitution in order to combine the Parliamentary and Presidential elections in 2010, thus denying the people an election in 2008. The idea is to have an unelected Zanu PF transitional president who then gains the power of incumbency for two years before being subjected to an election. The political demand should be for harmonization in 2008 not 2010.

Contestation for power should be through political formations based on democratic values and principles in consensus with the generality of the people. It is essential that political parties have clear national vision, macro-economic programs, strategic frameworks, organizational capacity, leadership gravitas, and intellectual clarity. In addition political leaders must walk the talk, and live party values through consistency, honesty and integrity. Zimbabwe requires principled and democratic political parties that are grounded in non-violence, tolerance, transparency, and accountability.

Civil society and civic organizations must be non-partisan, internally democratic, and respectful of their own laws. Term limits should be strictly adhered to in civic, party and national constitutions. There is need to restore political freedoms, rule of law, personal security, and political legitimacy in Zimbabwe. It should be understood that the Zimbabwean political culture has been defined by Zanu PF for the past 26 years. We are all cut from that same cloth, hence the tendency to replicate Zanu PF undemocratic practices in all our organizations. We need to acknowledge this and consciously create and live a new democratic value system.

The Economic Mandate

We need to stop the economic decline and the suffering of millions of families in our country. The starting point is developing an economic recovery and a stabilization program. A holistic approach that involves all stakeholders and takes into account all economic factors must be the basis of a multi-variable economic model for Zimbabwe’s survival. There is also need for economic structural reform, underpinned by economic transformation that involves integration and coordination of the informal and formal sectors. There is also need for effective macro-economic policy coordination that systemically links monetary and fiscal policies.

Honest assessment of our current predicament and taking ownership of our challenges will be the starting point. The Zanu PF regime is in self-denial and does not appreciate the extent of our problems. The biggest imposer of sanctions on Zimbabwe is the Zanu PF government; through misrule, dictatorship, inept economic policies, misguided foreign policy, corruption, and sheer incompetence. These sanctions must be lifted first before we ask other nations to lift measures that they have imposed on us.

There is need to develop a medium term economic stabilization strategy which will focus on fiscal discipline, poverty alleviation, viable social security programs such as housing, healthcare, education, job creation, infrastructural rehabilitation, and local authorities capacity building.

Beyond recovery and survival we need to develop long term strategic initiatives, with sector specific programs, that enable Zimbabwe to emerge as an industrialized, technology driven, competitive nation, fully integrated into the global economy. We should use the existing capacity of Zimbabweans and their natural resources to compete through the design and construction of new and innovative products on the world market. While building upon our national core competencies such as agriculture, mining and tourism, emphasis should be on focused manufacturing and leveraging new technologies. These include wireless telecommunication (e.g. Wireless Fidelity (WiFi) and Worldwide Interoperability for Microwave Access (WiMax)), biotechnology, wireless power (e.g. fuel cells and solar-thermal), automation, nano-technology, micro-electronic and mechanical systems (MEMS), and electronic commerce. Some of these new technology platforms are cheaper and lend themselves better to countries with poor infrastructure than advanced countries. Hence, there is a unique opportunity for Zimbabwe to run where others walked. We can thus, leap-frog from the current economic crisis into the globally competitive and knowledge-based economy. Zimbabwe needs an effective science and technology strategy, rooted in regional integration and linked to forces of globalization.

There is need to implement investor confidence building measures in order to increase trade and investment. Of paramount importance is the respect for property rights, rule of law, predictability and certainty of laws, and consistency in the application of regulations. The economic strategy should then be driven by extensive domestic investment (local and Diaspora), foreign direct investment (FDI), processed exports, value adding economic activities, business growth, and economic empowerment. There is need to engage our strategic partners in Africa, Europe, Asia and the Americas for investment, partnerships and global outsourcing opportunities. Under globalization there is no country that can thrive without dealing with the international community including the multilateral institutions such as the IMF and World Bank. We know that historically, these two specific institutions have espoused anti-African and anti-poor people policies. What is critical is to engage these institutions with the view to extract favourable arrangements for our country. In the current global economy, the IMF is ostensibly a gatekeeper. If they are not involved with your country, there is no investment and trade that will occur there. We cannot go it alone.

We need to engage everyone in the world community of nations. This misguided and bankrupt Look East Policy must be rejected with the contempt that it deserves. How can we look East when the East is looking West? The Chinese, Singaporean, Malaysian, and Japanese economies are heavily dependent on, and linked to, the USA and European economies. Zimbabwe needs strategic thinkers who look everywhere for opportunities, not unimaginative despots typical of failed and pariah States who seek economic opportunities from one geographical location, out of desperation and lack of choice.

Zimbabwe’s resource base and human capital (local and Diaspora) must be mobilized and leveraged to benefit Zimbabweans. With a deliberate strategy of beneficiation (value adding economic activities) we should build new factories, create economic opportunities and attract investors for further development. All our minerals must be processed locally and exported as refined products. For example we need to build refinery plants and secondary industries for our platinum, gold, and copper. In most developing economies, remittances from, and economic involvement of the Diaspora have become key strategic initiatives. We should seek to ensure that our fellow citizens in the Diaspora have a meaningful role to play in the development of their country by leveraging their remittances, expertise and networks. However, there is no taxation without representation. We must allow people in the Diaspora to vote in all national elections.

Our country is uniquely endowed with natural wonders such as the awesome Victoria Falls and the majestic Great Zimbabwe. As we return to the international fold there is need to drive, optimize, and leverage the tourism sector. We should make our currency valuable again, reduce the cost of living for the suffering families and stop corruption and misuse of money. We need radical transformation to good governance with able and efficient government at all levels in both the private and public sectors. We should bring stability and prosperity to our country, which has been lost in the years of decline and economic collapse.

We should ensure a fair, secure and effective use of land with new strategies that will make the land green again. What is required is a democratic and participatory framework that seeks to achieve equitable, transparent, just, and economically efficient distribution and use of land. This must have emphasis on productivity, food security and self-sufficiency. Collateral value of land must be guaranteed by establishing security of tenure through the provision of title or 99 year leases. Land should never be used as an instrument of political patronage. With an effective land revolution in Zimbabwe land owners should be motivated towards beneficiation where emphasis is placed on secondary agriculture. Under this philosophy, we should encourage exporting processed agricultural products and not raw materials. For example; Export clothes not cotton, tinned vegetables not raw vegetables, flour not wheat, and furniture not timber. Instead of selling raw materials we should sell value added or finished products. This will facilitate entrepreneurship, job creation, and thus ensure income for Zimbabwean families and guarantee prosperity and food security for all.

In all these economic strategic initiatives, the underpinning and central organizing values should be fiscal discipline, productivity, efficiency, innovation, creativity, beneficiation and excellence.

Today, the 18th of April 2006, our sacred Independence Day, it is our humble submission that the Zanu PF government under the leadership of Robert Mugabe has violated all the principles of the liberation struggle leading to this unprecedented economic collapse. They have totally failed to organize and manage the affairs of our nation. They neither understand the causes of the economic crisis, nor do they have a clear vision for the country. More importantly, Zanu PF has neither the will, strategy nor capacity to deliver our country from economic collapse to prosperity. We demand our human rights and dignity today. We demand an end to the national economic crisis today. We demand the immediate resignation of the entire Zanu PF government today. The people of Zimbabwe must rule themselves again. Today, the hour has come for us to reclaim our national birth right.

There will be neither Compromise, Retreat, nor Surrender.

Defeat is not on the Agenda.

The Struggle Continues Unabated.

Arthur G.O. Mutambara

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