Zimbabwe has turned out to be a greater betrayal of the black man – there is lesser independence for the ordinary black person than before. Zimbabwe’s independence goes like this: the more independent the black elite became, the more oppressed the ordinary citizens became; the more independent the black government became, the less independent the black citizens became; the greater the control ethnic Shona people had of state institutions, the lesser the control every other population group had of its destiny; the more the power was theoretically available to black people, the more powerless they became in real terms as restrictions to accessing it intensified.
Citizens’ dreams died at independence. We called for greater public economic and political control independent from undue State control, we got less control over our lives, but more and undue State control measures; we called for an open and accountable government system, we got a secretive state not accountable to its citizens; we demanded for equality of all human beings, we got more marginalisation, exclusion of segments of the population from participating in state activities, and dehumanisation of certain population groups by the dominant ethnic Shona group and the elite.
Hypocrisy better describes independence claims by leadership in Zimbabwe; independent Zimbabwe is a moral slaughterhouse; the mother of all evil, and racial and tribal prejudice are its favourite children.
People’s memories are not short, for Matabeleland to celebrate Zimbabwe’s ‘Independence Day’ will be to vindicate the dehumanisation of Matabeleland people since 1980. With ZANU PF’s preconceived idea of sovereignty, which the ethnic Shona people dominated organisation defined in demarcation rather than partnership with Matabele population groups, ethnic Shona people isolated Matabeleland people in the newly independent country.
An entire nation suffered the ignominy of a ‘dissident’ designation and being treated like dandruff on a hairdresser model’s scalp. A new form of discrimination was institutionalised; just as it was in the colonial regime, human identity became reason for criminalisation, mistreatment, and decapitation; instead of the colour of the skin, the tribe and ethnicity gave reason for a pre-dominantly ethnic Shona government to strip Ndebele people of their dignity, strip them of their liberty, strip them of their freedoms and deprive them of all human rights. Barbarism was normalised.
Under the guise of dealing with security threat in Matabeleland, state dissident activity in the region was legitimised. Communities were physically and mentally brutalised; people were deliberately deprived of food, women raped in front of their children and husbands, young men decapitated, unborn babies ripped out of their mothers’ wombs and crushed to death, communities forced to watch their loved ones killed in cold blood and some buried alive in mass graves. What is there to celebrate?
Those who owe their safety, freedom and liberties to ZANU PF can celebrate their ‘Independence Day’, we will not stand in their way yet we do not have reason to put a happy face on sorrow; all we ask of those for whom independence has been a blessing is that they do not interfere with our right to emotional expression, even if that means not celebrating ‘Independence Day’; we shall continue to mourn our people butchered in cold blood during the Gukurahundi ‘special military operation’.
It is discouraging to see how many people are incensed by honest arguments from Matabeleland calling for a free Matabeleland and very few are angered by the abusive behaviour of ZANU PF in Matabeleland. Placing greater value on unity for its own sake is hypocrisy. It is this obsession with order and not justice that is shocking and giving ZANU PF a sense of invincibility.
Opposition within mainstream politics in the country has turned into miniature ZANU PF; it does not oppose the political system per se but is opposed to ZANU PF being head of that system; because the opposition sees the system as broken and only needing fixing, it is only fighting for power to control the politics; it therefore does not represent the people who see the system as working perfectly according to its design and needing destroying and replacement with a progressive new people-focused system.
Whose independence is being celebrated when many ethnic minorities must live under the will of a majority population group? When we become independent, we will celebrate. When we attain access to real power to decide our fate, we will celebrate.
Barriers to accessing power must be removed at all levels; attitudes to political morality must change. Unless we collectively call out the hypocrisy of Zimbabwean independence, until we finally subscribe to the philosophy that sovereignty belongs to all, not just the majority population groups, the rich and the elite will continue to polarise the population while they hold onto real power and siphon the country’s resources for personal gain. When black people in Zimbabwe fought against colonialism and all it stood for, they gave a sense of themselves as moral people who cared for human rights. But now for a black government to deprive black people of the same human rights makes the world unpick our moral claims for the hypocrisy they represent.