INDEPENDENCE DAY 2023
[18th April 2023]
After 43 Years:
Nyika Inovakwa Nevene Vayo; Ilizwe lakhiwa ngabanikazi balo;
Brick upon Brick
On the 21st December 1979, the Lancaster House Agreement was signed in London. It was agreed that there was to be a ceasefire, a new Constitution and elections within 6 months. By February 1980, Robert Mugabe had been elected as the Prime Minister. As the 18th April 1980 began at midnight, Zimbabwe celebrated its inaugural Independence Day event in the presence of a representative of the former colonial power, the then Prince of Wales (now King Charles III).
As the old Rhodesian flag was lowered and the new Zimbabwean flag was raised, Prime Minister Robert Mugabe gave a speech in which he said:
“Finally, I wish to assure all the people that my government will strive to bring meaningful change to their lives. But everyone should exercise patience, for change cannot occur overnight. For now, let us be united in our endeavour to lead the country to independence, Let us constitute a oneness derived from our common objectives and total commitment to build a great Zimbabwe that will be the pride of all Africa”
From onset, one of the goals of a new Zimbabwe was to make Zimbabwe a great nation – in all respects. And for this to happen, everyone needed to be part of the building process as indicated by Prime Minister Mugabe.
“Nyika Inovakwa Nevene Vayo”
This year’s theme focuses on a famous phrase coined by President Emmerson Mnangagwa. In English, the theme simply means a country is built by its own citizens or "brick upon brick", as it is expressed in President Mnangagwa's Independence Day Speech [link].
In the last 43 years Zimbabwe has experienced some traumatic times: from devastating droughts to fuel shortages, to power cuts, to economic crashes, to severe brain drain, to corruption scandals and periodic bouts of political violence, to the COVID-19 pandemic. In the last 43 years Zimbabwe has also experienced good times: from massive advances in the education sector, to a boost in the tourism industry, to becoming one of the top ten tobacco producers in the world, to becoming a potential giant in the global mining industry.
The good has, however, in the eyes of many been overshadowed by the bad. There remains a lot of work to be done. Focus must be put on rehabilitation of infrastructure, development of the economy and fighting of corruption at all levels, the apparent impunity of the police and security services and other infringements or rights.
Zimbabwe at 43 and beyond
Recently, global focus has been on Zimbabwe because of a number of factors including corruption and money laundering.
Last week, the Country Report on the State of Human Rights in Zimbabwe was released by the United States Department of State. The report is available on the Veritas website [link] highlights areas in which Zimbabwe needs to improve and develop, including prison structures and conditions, the state of the judiciary and overall matters to do with discrimination and societal abuse. As we commemorate Zimbabwe at 43, let us not only focus on building in terms of infrastructure but building our overall systems including our human rights systems and our general operating systems.
The Zimbabwean brand needs to be transformed into a reputable and trusted one. As former President Robert Mugabe mentioned in 1980, this will take an effort by all of us – both ordinary citizens and those in power.
As we take time to reflect on the trials and tribulations – and triumphs – of the first 43 years, we should strive to make the years to come better. As in 1980, the responsibility of building a better Zimbabwe lies with all of us.