Zimbabwe @ 38: It’s not yet uhuru

The 18th of April is marked as Zimbabwe’s Independence Day. The Zimbabwe Dream Project joins the people of Zimbabwe in celebrating 38 years of nationhood. This is a day we take time to reflect on the road we have travelled as a nation state cognisant of the challenges of the day and attentive to our obligations.

This year’s celebrations are coming against a background of a nationwide nurse’s strike. It is imperative to note that our public health system has for years been a disaster as witnessed by the leadership’s preference of foreign health care. Our leaders have lost faith in their own health delivery system and seem to have also lost concern in fixing it. This deplorable state of the public medical system is reflective of a crisis endured by ordinary Zimbabweans daily. Countries may even go to war protecting their own citizens but when the purpose and function of the state is based on the narrow interest of a few this alters policy focus, it chokes human development and the state abandons its welfare responsibility.

We live in a country where independence is an event not a value. Yet the true meaning of freedom is grounded on the desire to the attainment of greater good for greater numbers. Societies are pushed by angst of drive to realize the ideals held supreme and their lives are a voluntary bond of payment. This is their drive, the definition of a livelihood of a nation, the dreams of all stewarded for generations to follow, dreams of equality for all, equal access to opportunities for all despite station of origin, gender, race, religious foundation, political ideology or wealth and fortune.

Emerging from a history of racial injustice, the task of the black government was to redefine the function and purpose of the state. To realign a state that once served the interests of a select few to a welfare state, one that not only guaranteed political independence but also had the requisite legal and financial measures to effect a system that would liberate people from the constraints of their social origins and open up opportunities for them to lead an independent life of self determination.

38 years after the fall of the Union Jack, blood is being shed for political reasons. Our political engagement is defined by force rather than ideas. The government has neglected its role of ensuring that the basic needs of all citizens are met. This has been characterized by the high levels of unemployment, lack of affordable healthcare, unaffordable basic and tertiary education, poor public transport services, ongoing endemic levels of corruption, lack of affordable housing and as well as the negation of the elderly and marginalized rural to the vagaries of the unaffordable cost of living.

We hold it firm that independence, without the basic material provision such as food and shelter, medical care and decent work is unfilled. Independence should entail freedom from both political oppression and economic exclusion. It is a dictate of common sense that people can only be active and meaningful participants of social and political processes when their material needs have been fulfilled. We urge the government of Zimbabwe to reflect on its priorities, alter its focus in pursuit of a people centred framework and remodel its model to a welfare state.

Source: Zimbabwe Dream Project