As Zimbabwe marks 36 years of independence tomorrow, opposition political parties and analysts have slated the governing party saying President Robert Mugabe and his hangers-on have thrown Zimbabweans in “hell hole” instead of the “Promised Land” of milk and honey.
Citing the Gukurahundi atrocities of the 1980s that left an estimated 20 000 people dead; the Economic Structural Adjustment Programme (Esap) of the early 1990s that left hundreds jobless, the ad hoc land reform programme at the turn of the millennium that reduced Zimbabwe from being the breadbasket of Africa to a basket case; the violent elections since 2000 and the unforgettable operation Murambatsvina of the year 2005 when close to a million people lost their homes — observers say Zimbabweans have been pummelled year after year by “an insensitive government”.
MDC spokesperson Obert Gutu said Mugabe has maintained his hold on power using repressive tactics that do not befit freedom tenets.
“As long as the corrupt and incompetent Zanu PF regime remains in power, then we can kiss our chances of development goodbye. We will remain trapped in this socio-economic hell-hole, enveloped by grinding mass poverty and political repression. A new, democratically-elected government should take over the reins of power in Zimbabwe. Without that happening, then we are doomed. Our fate as a failed State will be sealed in history.
“Under his stewardship, Zimbabwe has degenerated from being the bread basket of Southern Africa into a basket case. Over the past 36 years of . . . Mugabe’s rule, the country’s road and railway infrastructure has virtually collapsed and the health delivery system has deteriorated to such an extent that Mugabe himself and members of his family, now have to travel abroad to seek medical treatment. It’s a complete utter shame,” Gutu said.
Mugabe has been the sole country’s leader since it attained independence from its former colonial masters, the British in 1980.
His political life has been characterised by vote-rigging allegations, political violence accusations and controversial policies that have left many Zimbabweans living from hand to mouth.
Several others have become political and economic refugees in foreign countries, after industries and the political space became too hot to handle as Mugabe maintained a firm grip on power.
Mugabe, who turned 92 years old this year, is expected to officiate at the independence celebrations that are conducted annually and usually characterised by pomp and fanfare.
“Only the ruling elite are living large while more than 90 percent of Zimbabwe’s 14 million people are living in penury and deprivation.
“The Zanu PF regime has closed up political space by ensuring that elections are routinely rigged and manipulated in order to maintain the status quo ante. The few rich people have gotten very rich over the past 36 years and the majority poor have also gotten very poor. It’s a sad story,” he said.
Gutu further said the country was bleeding and crying for a new leadership, which would usher a new beginning.
Political analyst Maxwell Saungweme said in as far as the Mugabe regime tried to improve the social services sector, through infrastructural development during its early days in power, it still did not respect people’s rights.
“Remember between 1980 and 1987 people in Midlands and Matabeleland were under the Gukurahundi siege, where a lot of rights were stumbled upon and many people killed. You cannot call this the freedom we fought for.
“From 1990 to now, the regime has been more dictatorial and started operating in ways contrary to the dictates and principles of the liberation struggle while paying lip services to the purpose and goals of the struggle,” Saungweme said.
He said Mugabe’s government now resembles the country’s former colonial masters.
“You have a regime that is oppressive, a corrupt regime, a regime that is abusing human rights, a regime that rigs elections and defeating the ‘one man one vote’ we fought for.
The regime has lost trace of links to the struggle apart from just talking about it. Their actions on the ground are against what we fought for.
“Who thought in a free Zimbabwe, (Itai) Dzamara will disappear, (Jestina) Mukoko will disappear, and Talent Mabika, Tonderai Ndira and others will be murdered by State functionaries and Zanu PF activists? This is not what we fought for. We have lost the plot,” he said.
Welshman Ncube–led MDC spokesperson Kurauone Chihwayi said Mugabe had lost the vision and the country is bleeding as human rights are being trodden willy–nilly.
“We bemoan lack of responsible, democratic, visionary and non–violent leadership. The nation weeps if it looks at the brutalities, corruption, abductions, theft and looting of State resources by the Zanu PF government. The nation has been ruined by a very corrupt regime that is rapidly reducing Zimbabwe into a graveyard,” Chihwayi said.
He however, said the Independence Day should be used to remember the real war heroes who died fighting for the country.
“We urge the nation to remain hopeful as we mourn the destruction of our motherland by criminals. “This is the time for Zimbabweans to liberate themselves from the oppressive Zanu PF government.
The country is celebrating this year Independence Day on in the midst of an economic crisis — with millions facing hunger and an uncertain future. daily news