President Morgan Tsvangirai’s independence day message to the people of Zimbabwe
Today, we commemorate 37 years of our hard-won independence from the brutal, oppressive and racist colonial regime.
I advisedly say commemorate----and not celebrate----because the stinking poverty around us and the extreme suffering of the people is not worth celebrating. Our current sad national predicament is not commensurate with the sacrifice we made as a nation in the brutal struggle for our independence.
Today is a day for serious reflection on whether the despicable state of the nation and the sorry plight of people can be regarded as the sum total of the true meaning of our independence.
Today, we pay homage to the gallantry of the sons and daughters of this land who paid the ultimate price to free this country from colonial bondage and we salute our heroism as a people in fighting brutality and repression.
It is indeed a day worth commemorating. If this great national day had not been privatized by parochial partisanship, I would have taken my family to join thousands others for the national celebrations to pay homage to this country’s heroism in bringing independence.
But alas, this important national day has been hijacked; pick-pocketed by the ruling elite. It is a big day now mired by cheap sloganeering in a move that excludes other political players from joining the rest of the nation in celebrating our sacred struggle against colonialism.
Fellow Zimbabweans, I recently went around the country and I remember some of the sad stories that you told me----stories that do not befit a free and independent people.
From Hwange to Nyanga and from Nyamakate to Beitbridge, you all bemoaned the fact that independence came alone; unclothed by the requisite freedoms befitting a heroic people who had waged a brutal struggle. Today---so you told me---we now repress each other through partisan distribution of food, even maiming and killing others for belonging to a different political party.
Independence came without freedom. It is sad that our brothers and sisters whom we correctly called freedom fighters are painfully realizing now that the country for which they fought has now been privatized by small, parasitic elite. Today, we even kill others for freely exercising their right to vote for a political party of their choice; a right for which so many sons and daughters of this land paid the ultimate price.
True independence should translate into abundant opportunities and real freedom for the people so that the day gains its true worth to the country’s citizenry.
I want to take advantage of this day to salute all war veterans, dead or alive, and say I and the party I lead will forever cherish what they did for this country.
I want to promise that the new government we will create in 2018 will accord our war veterans their due respect and meet their deserved welfare requirements as we said they should get in the Constitution that we made ourselves as a people.
Let us not allow the privatization of this great day in a manner that diminishes its true worth. Let us not allow the stripping of our dignity by this uncaring Zanu PF regime and the abandonment of the cause for which so many died.
Indeed, we must always cherish the heroism of the people of this land and the brutal struggle we waged to reclaim our rights, particularly the right to vote.
As we brace for next year’s watershed election, I urge Zimbabweans to unite and put the country first. I urge Zimbabweans of all shades and political affiliation to prioritize Zimbabwe and to put the collective national interest above everything else.
Whether Zanu PF or MDC, or any other political party for that matter, every Zimbabwean must ask themselves whether we really deserve this suffering in a country for which so many paid the ultimate sacrifice.
Let us put aside all our differences, harness our diversity and vote for the man or woman who will shepherd this country to the greatness it deserves; a leader who values our nationhood and collective dignity more than the colour of our party cards.
We have seen how those in the seat of government have taught us to hate and kill each other and not to harness our differences for the greater national good.
Fellow Zimbabweans, let us use the opportunity next year to poise our country for growth, inclusion, unity and development. There has been so much hatred in the past; needless hatred that in 2008 cost us a glorious opportunity to move forward.
Indeed, as I have said before, none of us have any reason to fear the change that is now imminent upon this our beloved country in 2018.
That change will be good for everyone. The benefits of that change will not be selective. That positive change will seek no retribution against anyone but will only spur us to live in harmony as Zimbabweans, regardless of our ethnic and political diversity.
In the new Zimbabwe, our differences and diversity will not be a weakness; rather they will represent our collective national strength. In the celebration of our kaleidoscopic differences, we must be able to live and travel the journey of life together, without violence, without hatred and without inflicting any harm to our fellow citizen. Only then can we stand high on the shoulders of our heroes and heroines who brought us this independence that we so cherish today.
Yes, in the new Zimbabwe that starts in 2018, we must proudly celebrate our differences. We must be able to proudly declare that we are a citizenry worthy of the copious quantities of sweat, tears and blood that was shed for this land that we all love.
Happy independence day, Zimbabwe