By Blessing Vava
|The leaders Robert Mugabe and Joshua Nkomo addressing|
a press conference in March 1978 in New York
The night preceding the 18th of April 1980 marked the dawn a new era in Zimbabwe’s political landscape when the infamous colonialists’ flag, the Union Jack was pulled down to pave way for our beautiful national flag marking Zimbabwe’s independence. Wild jubilations swept the entire country as the masses thought that the attainment of independence was synonymous with the end of oppression, access to equal opportunities, land and national resources but it was not so.
That independence indeed came through a protracted liberation struggle which took the lives of many. It was, through a concerted effort from all Zimbabweans. The role played by the masses in the fight for liberation should thus not be downplayed. It should be known that not only those who received military training, those who were camped in Chimoio and Nyadzonya, those of us who carried the weapons, and those who were in direct combat were the sole drivers of that war.
|18 April 1980-The pulling down of the Union Jack at Rufaro|
The ordinary villagers played a part that should always be credited. The povo were critical in providing information on the movements of the Rhodesian soldiers and also providing food, shelter and other social needs for the revolutionary fighters, at times the comrades could forcibly get sexual favours from innocent young girls without their consent. Such were the ugly scenes of our democratic struggle. Indeed the national liberation came as a result of all these efforts. I am however saddened to note that 32 years after the end of that war, some quasi revolutionaries now want to claim sole ownership and credit of having liberated Zimbabwe. Alas! The national democratic revolution was driven by the masses of Zimbabwe and not the comrades alone. The people of Zimbabwe surely deserve to enjoy the gains of the national liberation. Consequently, as we reflect on Zimbabwe’s war of liberation, the subsequent end to that war, we should always remain conscious and cognisant to the fact that it was the masses of Zimbabwe that waged a war to free themselves from an oppressive white settler regime.
|Solomon Mujuru and Robert Mugabe arrival at Zimbabwe|
Grounds in 1980
The sole reason for participation, directly or indirectly, was the realisation that Zimbabwe belonged to us and not to a minority white ruling class that ruled through fear and suppression. It was the land, the vast minerals that was in the hands of a few that we all craved to benefit from as the rightful owners. We had no land for shelter, no land to plough and nothing to call our own and yet we were a majority. The mineral claims all belonged to them, they surely did not want us to enjoy the benefits of our motherland. And therefore, the national liberation struggle was, anti-capitalist because 'national oppression and capitalist exploitation were inextricably interlinked in Rhodesia. In a country in which 'nearly all the land and other assets' have been appropriated by members of the oppressing white nation, it was necessary that the oppressed nation acquire control of its economic resources in order to attain authentic autonomy. The inequalities that existed were just too bad to our society, we wanted a free Zimbabwe were citizens enjoy all their freedoms without any form of intimidation or hindrance. That is the freedom we celebrated when we pulled down the union jack, it was a symbol that Zimbabwe was now free and we will forever cherish those who made it possible to achieve that freedom. After 32 years, national independence remains a mystery.
Our beloved country is at the crossroads, that legacy of the liberation struggle has evaporated like water. The liberators have turned suppressors. They are shamefully hiding under the jacket of that same history of the liberation struggle to destroy the same gains which we seem to have achieved. The revolutionary movement has transmogrified into a dangerous ‘ bureaucratic cabal’ that has adopted the style and operations of the former oppressors. As Paulo Freire acknowledges some of the problems faced by revolutionary movements in his Pedagogy of the Oppressed..the moment the new regime hardens into a dominating 'bureaucracy' the humanist dimension of the struggle is lost and it is no longer possible to speak of liberation. Indeed the liberation movement no longer has the locus standi of speaking about liberation-because of how they have replicated the bad style of governance from the former colonisers.
This years’ national independence day should be a reminder to all revolutionary pretenders to reflect back on the purpose and meaning of our national liberation. The national liberation is for us all, whether you were in the battlefield or not, this is our country too and monopolisation of the state and the means of production is an affront to national liberation. The jackals in power are so greedy and they want to lion’s share whilst the citizens are wallowing in abject poverty without a saucer to eat. The spirit of the liberation struggle needs to be instilled in all Zimbabweans not in the way that ZANU style of conning Zimbabweans pretending that it is all about the country when it is about them covering up for their mis-governance and looting. The spirit should be instilled to all Zimbabweans that the country does not belong to the few elites but to every inhabitant of this land. Therefore this Uhuru is about all Zimbabweans, it should be the turning point in our country’s history to shape the future for the generations to come, that this is indeed our country too, we fought for one man one vote and the legacy of that war should never be abused but rather cherished.
The spirit is about defining our co-existence as Zimbabweans, what we hope for the future of our country and consolidating the gains of the struggle that have been undermined by the new rulers. And that’s the reason why social movements gathered on the 9th of February of 2008 and came up with what we envisage in an a truly independent Zimbabwe, and that document was the Zimbabwe Peoples Charter. The peoples charter articulates the interests of all those oppressed by and opposed to dictatorship. It is a document that seeks to win the support of all those who oppose mis-governance and dictatorship
Therefore the demands of the Peoples Charter are relevant to the struggle for social democracy, the unifying role it currently plays in the co-ordination of the struggle to a truly independent social democratic state. Zvazviri!
nb-full copy of the Zimbabwe Peoples Charter can be found on http://peoplescharter.blogspot.com/2011/12/zimbabwe-peoples-charter.html
Blessing Vava is from the Committee of the Peoples Charter (CPC), he can be contacted on email@example.com