Thursday, April 28, 2011

Zimbabwe Celebrates 31 Years of National Independence

Uhuru celebrations with a difference

Monday, 25 April 2011 20:30
By Albert Nhamoyebonde

CONTRARY to some views from certain media that disparage the celebration of Independence each year, the 31st Independence celebrations must be regarded as a milestone for the fact that all our political leaders were present at the main venue, the National Sports Stadium.

The theme of the President's speech, emphasising peace and tranquility in the nation although with different political views, should be heeded by all the hard-headed political activists with nothing to do, except to cause chaos, which impedes the development of a tolerant society.

It was also welcome for the President to confirm that the constitutional making process was on course, and that elections shall be held this year in a peaceful atmosphere. We have been following elections in Nigeria with interest.

Former presidents in the African Union, who were official observers, have declared the elections as the best organised in Nigeria and other African countries for decades.

This is what Zimbabwe should also aim to achieve. No fighting takes place in the low density suburbs. Residents live in peace with each other. Why should high density areas be not the same as low density areas? It is lack of political education and tolerance of divergent ideas and views.

Many in the high density areas support different soccer teams, and yet live together after the game is over. Why should politics be any different? Another feather in our cap as a nation is that, elections do take place at local level from the district, town and city levels.

Many of the town and city councils are dominated by political persuasions, to shape the development of their countries.

The turmoil in Africa and the Middle East is being caused by the exclusion of other parties from the body politic of the nation. In some countries, even elections at local level are banned. When the people protest, they are gunned down even when they are not carrying any weapons.

Surely, in celebrating 31 years of Independence, the country has come a long way to develop the institutions necessary for the sustenance of a tolerant society in our body politic. As it has always been claimed, actions must speak louder than words if the country has to cherish a tolerant society.

Many people are amazed that churches that have disagreements hide behind political expediency in fighting other factions which they disagree with. Politicians are roped in such disputes.

Instead of the churches preaching peace and tolerance, they are at the forefront of promoting disunity in society. Therefore, the celebration of our Independence each year has come as a reminder that cohesion of the people should be promoted at all cost.

China has shown the whole world that despite their communist party rule, they are held together by the belief that profit-taking in business should guide their economic well being and culture.

To be rich is glorious, as one Chinese leader said when the communist party introduced market reforms about 15 years ago. He went on to say that it did not matter whether the cat was black or white, as long as it catches mice.

There is a need to develop this country and create wealth for our people. Our laws must allow the encouragement of local and outside investment to create jobs and wealth for our country. But, political stability must be guaranteed by allowing divergence of opinion to flourish in a peaceful way.

Local Government elections have exposed the shallowness of our political aspirations. Different parties have been allowed to exercise power but with mixed results. Corruption has been reported to be rife while service delivery is in shambles.

I enjoy driving on the highway rather than driving in cities and suburbs, because there are no potholes on the straight roads. It is a great joy to drive to my home area in Guruve than driving to Highlands suburb in Harare. This state of life in the cities and towns cannot be blamed on one political party since the formation of the inclusive Government.

Why should residents tolerate such a state of affairs 31 years after Independence? One German professor remarked that he could not understand why the residents of Harare buy such expensive cars like Mercedes Benz, BMW, Audi, etc, when there are no suitable roads for such cars?

As we celebrate 31 years of Independence, we have to reflect on what the people really want out of life in Zimbabwe, besides the politics. Yes, the people yearn for peace but above all, they yearn for a better life. The freedom to garner the knowledge to improve their lives has been attained but the environment to do so is still lacking.

They are willing to pay for the improvement in the environment but cannot control the levers of what use the money is being put to by local authorities. A visit to home industry areas is a case in point.

No development has been carried out, to allow such spirited entrepreneurs to have basic requirements like a roof over their heads, water or electricity.

Surely, 31 years of Independence should have addressed all these shortcomings. Elections will come and go, but the problems may remain unless there is a change in the way local authorities approach the provision of service delivery to residents. When we celebrate 32 years of Independence next year, there should be a marked change in the way the aspirations of the people are addressed. Let us join hands to develop Zimbabwe. We have only ourselves to blame.

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