There is no denying the importance of our Independence Day and the huge sacrifices made during the liberation struggle. The big question is whether the sense of pride in this day can be re-ignited in the present generation of Zimbabweans for whom life is a daily struggle. We are also not turning a blind eye to the steps that have been taken towards women’s emancipation and their recognition as citizens since our country got its independence. For instance the inclusion of women in cabinet, the coming of our first female vice president affirmative action in parliament and the international conventions and treaties for the advancement of women Zimbabwe has ratified. It’s critical to note that despite these efforts as we celebrate 34years of black rule the fight for the rights, freedom, justice and vital voice of women in Zimbabwe is still far from over.
Zim @ 34, is marked by high levels of poverty among the majority particularly women and youth, unemployment levels have soared to over 80% and the country that was regarded, in the 1980s and 1990s as the breadbasket of Southern Africa, is now a “basket case” heavily dependent on imports and humanitarian aid. Poor governance charactersied by high levels of corruption, poor social services delivery and escalating cases of violence against women (VAW) forms part of the daily sufferings for young women and generality of Zimbabweans.
Some young women had this to say about the day:
‘I am proud of Zimbabwean independence but I feel we are still a long way to live the independence. Independence should come as a total package of freedom, in the home, in the streets, in the community, everywhere, it should be economically meaningful for me and my voice should be respected!’
‘I think Independence is for those that fought the war because they are the independent ones as for some us we are yet to see the independence, especially those of us who live in the farms…… ma-one!’
‘I think our independence day is a great day because of what it represents but the ruling party has taken ownership of the day and it has been politicized. In our community we are encouraged to donate a dollar each towards celebrating this day but what is the point if I pay and the event is a political party rally. Not all of us are interested in party politics.’
‘I don’t have anything to celebrate because I am not free and therefore have nothing to celebrate. Those who celebrate have the freedom to celebrate for some of us we are still in the struggle.’
‘I am grateful to the daughters and sons who brought us independence but I feel their vision has been misconstrued. I am still suffering and my life could be better if the vision of the liberation struggle was embraced.’
‘I am happy to day for Zimbabwe but I wish us a better life, no jobs, no money, no voice, tiri patight!’
‘I am going for independence celebrations and I look forwards to hearing the Zimbabwean story, celebrate in unity and nothing more!’
‘34 years of political independence is a long time, worthy celebrating. But when our life situation remains difficult we also need to think deeply about where we are going.’
‘I value independence but am indifferent about Zim @34.’