from MARCUS MUSHONGA in Mount Darwin, Zimbabwe
MOUNT DARWIN, (CAJ News) – ZIMBABWE has commemorated 43 years of independence with a veiled message to Western powers to stop meddling in its domestic affairs.
President Emmerson Mnangagwa presided over the official commemorations in the northeastern town of Mount Darwin in Mashonaland West province.
The independence celebrations came at a time of strained relations between the Southern African country and its former coloniser, Britain, and most of the West after they slapped Zimbabwe with illegal economic sanctions in the early 2000s.
“We are a fearless, resolute and unrelenting people,” declared Mnangagwa, the country’s third president since self-rule in 1980.
“In spite of the many hurdles that our country has been subjected to, including the 23 years of illegal sanctions, our flame of independence, forever burns,” Mnangagwa said.
Speaking at the local stadium 155 kilometres northeast of Harare, Mnangagwa said as it was during the struggle for independence by the then Rhodesia, Zimbabwe welcomed assistance from friends but always on its terms and according to defined priorities.
“Together in unity, we will guard and defend our independence,” the president added.
“The independence we are celebrating today is sealed with blood. None but ourselves can fight back neo-colonialism and those bent on setting up surrogate entities over our land.”
Mnangagwa, in power since 2017, assured that his government had put in place measures to ensure free, fair and credible elections, at a date yet to be announced but this year.
“We must all say, ‘No to violence’, before, during and after elections. As one people, united under one national flag, let us defend and entrench our democracy, which was brought about by the blood, sweat and tears of the vast people of Zimbabwe.”
“As we go to elections, let us all affirm this with our vote and declare that Zimbabwe shall forever be free. Zimbabwe shall forever be sovereign. Zimbabwe shall forever be independent,” Mnangagwa said.
Zimbabwe has a history of violent polls. Critics blame the ruling Zimbabwe African National Union-Patriotic Front for the violence. It is accused of rigging elections. However, the government accuses Western powers and non-governmental organisations of siding with opposition parties to effect “regime change.”
Mnangagwa addressed the issue.
“No voices, foreign or local, inclusive of rogue NGOs, should sow seeds of division and disharmony among us,” he said.
The Citizens’ Coalition for Change (CCC), the main opposition, said amid political and economic problems, “this is not the Zimbabwe that the citizens had hoped for.”
“We urge every citizen to ensure that they perform their civic duty by voting en mass (sic) in the coming election for ethical, competent leaders who will usher in a New Great Zimbabwe with dignity, prosperity and freedom for all,” the party started.
Nelson Chamisa, the CCC president, said, “We salute the gallant citizens who fought for our independence. That independence is yet to come. It’s not Uhuru yet.”
The United States of America, long accused of interfering in the domestic affairs of Zimbabwe as well as other countries in the developing world, said it was committed to “standing with the people of Zimbabwe, as we have since your independence in 1980” to work together to promote democratic institutions, equitable economic growth, public health and food security.
“Zimbabwe has the chance to set itself on a path to promote citizen engagement and to respect human rights. We will continue to support the people of Zimbabwe to live longer, more prosperous and healthier lives,” Antony Blinken, US Secretary of State, said.
Zimbabwe is on the throes of climate change, culminating in droughts but Mnnanagwa in his address assured the country of over 15 million will be self-sufficient.
“This 2022/2023 season, our country is projecting over 3,2 million tons of cereals, against an annual requirement of 2.2 million tones,” he said.
Zimbabwe attained independence on April 18, 1980 after a war between 1964 and 1979. ZANU-PF has led since independence.
– CAJ News