Why I don’t celebrate independence day

by Nkosilathi Emmanuel Moyo*

On 18 April 1980 Zimbabwe got its so-called independence after a 14-year liberation struggle with the colonial regime. Celebrations were hold all over the country with the wounded mass shedding tears of joy as they stepped into the Promised Land - an independent Zimbabwe. Some were happy to be re-united with their sons and daughters who had joined ZANLA or ZIPRA forces fighting the liberation struggle and for 14 years nobody knew whether they were still alive or not. Some were in sorrow as they were told "We are sorry your son or daughter did not make it, we lost him/her at Chimoio massacre". These were the two sides of the coin of a nation whose walls were stained with the blood of their sons and daughters who died trying to liberate this country but unfortunately as I write today the vision of our dearest fallen heroes was betrayed. In 1980, millions of Zimbabweans were happy as they saw the union jack being lowered and the new Zimbabwean flag being raised - little did they know that they have been transferred from the hands of a white oppressor to the hands of a black oppressor.

Free Zimbabwe - Source
What exactly has changed? Are we really independent? One must ask herself. I always ask former freedom fighters in our community if the Zimbabwe they laboured for is the one we have today. What changed is only the colour of the oppressor and the majority, the poor mass is still in chains today. Take a look at the comparison below.

Rhodesia under Ian Smith
Zimbabwe under Robert Mugabe
1. Law and Order Maintenance Act (LOMA). 1. Public Order and Security Act (POSA).
2. Detention of freedom fighters. 2. Detention and torture of opposition activists and human rights activists.
3.Assassination of nationalists like Jason Ziyaphapha Moyo, Herbet Chitepo, Samuel Parirenyatwa, and others.  3. Mysterious deaths of people like Learnmore Jongwe, Solomon Mujuru, Gift Tandare,Tonderai Ndira and others.
4. Chimoi and Nyadzonya Massacre. 4. Gukurahundi Massacre and 2008 bloody post-election violence.
5. Land belonged to the white minority. 5. Land belongs to a few ZANU PF sympathisers.
6. Land and livestock was seized from the black majority into the hands of the white minority. 6. Properties are being seized from foreign investors and white Zimbabweans into the hands of a few ZANU PF VIPs.
7. Herbet Chitepo the first black lawyer rotted in prison. 7. Beatrice Mtetwa, a human rights lawyer, rotted in prison and was bashed by the Zimbabwean police recently.
8. Rhodesian army used to beat up poor innocent black civilians. 8. The Zimbabwean army beats up people during elections and terrorises the electorate.
9. Patronage, if you were not white you were not given an opportunity to senior positions in government and public service. 9. If you are not ZANU PF you will never be given an opportunity to senior positions in government and public service.
10. There was no water and roads in Matebeleland. 10. There is no water and roads in Matebeleland, thirty three years after independence.
11. One man one vote was not allowed. 11. The choice of the electorate is not respected in Zimbabwe.
12. Primitive accumulation of wealth by the white administration. 12. Primitive accumulation of wealth by the ZANU PF administration.
13. It was a crime to support freedom fighters. 13. It is a crime to support an opposition party.
14. Internal Settlement. 14. Inclusive Government.
15.Smith vowed that there was going to be no majority rule in his life time. 15.Mugabe vowed that opposition parties will never rule Zimbabwe in his lifetime and he is running for another term at 90 years of age.
16. Political Violence. 16. Political violence and incarceration of opposition activist and human rights activists is the order of the day.
17.Media censorship and the mass resorted to a pirate radio station called Radio Chokwadi. 17.Media censorship and the mass has resorted to Studio 7, SW Radio Africa and others.

To me what changed is the face or the colour of the oppressor. I have been recently arrested and charged with section 25 of the Public Order and Security Act. I was being accused of holding a public meeting without the authorisation of the police. The law requires one to notify the police not to ask for permission, which I did through writing to the Z.R.P Officer Commanding Kwekwe District. He did not respond and I proceeded with my activity where I called for peace and denounced political violence in Zimbabwe. I was arrested, incarcerated and sentenced to 12 (twelve) months in prison. If calling for peace and denouncing political violence is such a crime, why then can I go and celebrate the Independence Day if yet am not free?

As thousands of blind followers who sheepishly follow these politicians converge to celebrate the Independence Day today, count me out, I am not joining you. Christpower Maisiri, a 12-year-old was burnt beyond recognition recently, thousands of innocent civilians lost their lives simply because of their different political ideologies. The economy is in the hands of a handful of VIPs whilst the majority rots in abject poverty. Rhodesia Broadcasting Corporation used to brainwash the nation telling them only the good side of Ian Smith’s administration and nothing was said about the suffering black majority. Today Zimbabwe Broadcasting Corporation is good as the information department for ZANU PF but not as a national broadcaster.

Just like Joshua in the bible I say people of Zimbabwe choose what you want but as for me and my family we are not joining you in celebrating the Independence Day because there is nothing to celebrate.

Did you know that?

President Robert Mugabe is the first and only person who was convicted and jailed for contravening POSA (Public Order and Security Act), then LOMA (Law and Order Maintenance Act) in Rhodesia. Thirty years after independence, in 2012, his administration used the same law, now POSA, to convict me, Nkosilathi Emmanuel Moyo, a 24-year-old Kwekwe-based human rights activist and Director of the Zimbabwe Organisation For Youth In Politics (Z.O.Y.P), a youth-oriented community organisation based in Kwekwe. I was sentenced to twelve months in prison and was subsequently the first person to be jailed for contravening that draconian legislation in Zimbabwe.

A version of this opinion piece has been also published at Bulawayo24.

Nkosilathi Emmanuel Moyo is a human rights activist based in the small mining town of Kwekwe, in Midlands Province, Zimbabwe. He is the Director of a community-based youth organization called the Zimbabwe Organization For The Youth In Politics (Z.O.Y.P), and he writes this opinion piece in his personal capacity.

Readers are encouraged to quote, reproduce and share this content for educational, non-profit purposes, provided the source is acknowledged. The views expressed in this post are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of the HR&D team.


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