Zimbabwe never been independent; Zimbabweans never been free

Tanonoka Joseph Whande

South African President Jacob Zuma chose the eve of Zimbabwe’s 32nd Independence celebrations to insult Zimbabweans by attempting to cover his dismal failure to bring any noticeable change to the Zimbabwean situation.
Zuma, who has been president for three years now, has failed to redirect the bad politics of Zimbabwe and has not had any effect on the intransigent Robert Mugabe.
Just as we witnessed former president Thabo Mbeki doing, Zuma instigated a flurry of talks and negotiations which never yielded any results.
To the Zimbabwean issue, Zuma only brought tough talk, which, unfortunately, no one listened to since it was never followed up with any action.
Indeed, there were talks and more talks as Zuma sent his ineffective team to Zimbabwe over and over again. There was so much movement yet nothing changed.
With Zuma as mediator, our problems in Zimbabwe continued and even got worse.
Zuma is a man afraid of using his mandate. He talks tough and yet does nothing. As a result, those who killed and abused people on behalf of Mugabe continue to do that with total impunity.
Farms continue to be invaded.
ZANU-PF aligned vigilante groups, like Chipangano, have become stronger and are clearly daring anyone to stop them.
Violence and arrest of political opponents continue and Zuma and his SADC seem to have retired to another planet. They can’t and won’t do anything about Zimbabwe.
And in the three years Zuma has been overseeing the talks, we have lost so many of our people. Hundreds have been chased from their homes, beaten up, arrested and threatened.
Mugabe still remains the stumbling block even to the writing of a proper constitution.
Our media is still in chains; our judiciary is, in all fairness, a ZANU-PF cell. The army and the police, dutifully expected to be guardians of the nation and the people, are the ones who are perpetrating human rights abuses on the long suffering people of Zimbabwe.
And now, whether Zuma likes it or not, we face the prospect of new elections without all the necessary safeguards being put in place.
We face the prospect of another violent election that does not meet any of SADC’s Principles For Conducting Democratic Elections.
Zimbabwe has denied its citizens full participation in the political process; there is no freedom of association or political tolerance.
There is no equal opportunity for all political parties to access the state media nor is there equal opportunity to exercise the right to vote and be voted for.
We, in Zimbabwe, crave for an independent Judiciary and yearn for the impartiality of our electoral institutions.
Any attempt at voter education is met with violent resistance and, as we tragically witnessed last time around, there is no reason for us to believe that there will be an acceptance and respect of the election results by ZANU-PF.
We don’t even have “a competent National Electoral Authority”.
And what is Zuma doing about it as concerns mount the slow pace of reforms could lead to sham elections?
He “called for more patience in the ongoing delicate mediation of the Zimbabwean crisis”.
“He still is (going to Harare), as soon as he is free,” said Lindiwe Zulu, spokesperson for Zuma’s facilitation team. “It is in the pipeline, as soon as he is able, he will come.”
What good is the trip when Zuma and SADC cannot effect or impose the compliance with the SADC guidelines? Come to think of it, since these SADC guidelines were adopted in 2004, which SADC country has adhered to them in elections?
Zuma is pre-occupied with acquiring and marrying more and more wives. He has his hands full trying to fend off the menacing nuisance of Julius Malems’s presence in his political life.
And Zimbabweans have to be patient, have to wait for this insipid polygamist to finish business with an endless string of in-laws before he can actively deal with the Zimbabwean issue as per SADC’s expectations? Give me a break!
It is funny that those on whom pain is being inflicted are the ones asked to be patient.
It is unacceptable to ask those burdened with abuse, murder and violence to be patient while the people who are doing all the damage are left alone.
Would it not be better, more humane and reasonable for Zuma and Zulu to ask the oppressors, thugs and ZANU-PF mongers of violence “to be patient” and stop their orgies of violence until he has paid his lobola?
Ignorantly, Zulu actually accused Tsvangirai’s MDC of being impatient.
Please, someone tell that little girl that it is not the MDC but the suffering people of Zimbabwe who are not only impatient but who have lost all faith in their leadership, police, army, judiciary, parliament, SADC, Zuma and Lindiwe Zulu.
The South Africans are bent on buying time for Mugabe while people are dying. We don’t need patience for that.
The heart of the matter is simply that Africa, Mugabe and ZANU-PF should all be ashamed of the situation in Zimbabwe today, exactly 32 years to the day since independence.
Who would have thought that Zimbabwe, 32 years after independence, would be grappling with issues of malice, of political intolerance, of violence against ourselves, of human rights violations, of a castrated media, exploitation by our own liberators, vindictiveness by a leader who refused democracy and is forcing himself on the people?
Who would have thought that Zimbabweans would fail to improve on what they inherited from a colonial regime? Who would have thought that after 32 years of independence, Zimbabweans would look at days under Ian Smith with nostalgia?
Mugabe was in Smith’s prisons for years and he reportedly came out of there with a string of educational degrees yet he, as president of this beautiful country of ours, denies our children and citizens a good education.
He cannot even treat prisoners better than he himself was treated by Ian Smith, otherwise how can he explain that chain of educational degrees from behind prison walls?
Independence Day is an important day in all countries. It marks the point when a people succeeded in wrenching away their own freedom, to do as they liked with their country. It marks the day when success came to the nation, offering greater possibilities of improving the livelihood of its citizens and opening up better opportunities in health, education, industry and in just about all spheres of existence.
Independence Day has only one condition, one demand, and that is each year must always be better than the previous, to show progress.
Sadly for us, each year since independence has been worse than the previous one. In the early years, we rejoiced using what the colonialists had left in place and yet we failed to improve or keep the momentum going.
We have been regressing, not progressing.
Today the nation is in disarray, producing more tears, dead bodies and more misery than the colonialists ever imposed on us.
No, Jacob Zuma, we don’t have the patience to deal with Africa’s presidential imbeciles.
We have lost enough of our people and lost more of our values. We have been chased away from our homes and watched as our children went to waste, denied education, access to jobs and, worst of all, denied their own self worth.
Today, we lie to ourselves and “celebrate” Independence Day but, really, are Zimbabweans independent? Are they free enough to be so?
What do we have to show for our 32 years of independence?
A dysfunctional government of national unity born out of intolerance? Or Zimbabweans living as either economic or political refugees in just about every country on earth? Corruption? State-sponsored violence? Starving old men, women and children as punishment for supporting a party other than the one led by Mugabe?
What are we celebrating and what do we need patience for when we have watched the destruction of several generations of our children?
I am not celebrating because we still don’t have the freedom and the independence that so many of our people died for.
The only free people in Zimbabwe are Robert Mugabe, his wife and children but even then, they themselves are not even independent, considering how they have always kept their hands in our pockets.
I am not celebrating; thank you very much.
God bless Zimbabwe, minus its politicians.
I am Tanonoka Joseph Whande and that, my compatriots, is the way it is today, Thursday, April 19th, 2012.

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