40 Years of Independence in Zimbabwe

Thandekile Moyo has as great piece over at Africa Portal on life after 40 years of independence in Zimbabwe. Ian Smith’s Rhodesia was swept into the dustbin of history on April 18th, 1980. Since then Zimbabwe has gone through a lot, as vividly described by Moyo. Overall, Zimbabwean elites have consistently betrayed the ideals of the Second Chimurenga over the last 40 years.

 

Who are the “born frees”?

They call those of us born in Zimbabwe and after 1980 “bornfrees”. We are the “lucky” generations, the generations that do not know the heartbreak and terror of war, generations that know nothing about the indignity and injustice of racism, nothing about the brutality of domination and white supremacism and the helplessness of poverty. We know nothing about suffering, we were born free.

On the economy:

Many “bornfrees” in Zimbabwe still live with their parents. Forty-year-old men and women who should by now have built their own homes are stuck at home because we cannot afford to move out. Most Zimbabweans are either unemployed, underemployed or living from hand to mouth. The Government is the biggest employer and pays an average of ZW$2,500/month (USD$70).

On the provision of essential public services:

In spite of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, Zimbabwe’s Vice President Constantino Chiwenga flew to China in March because that is where he receives his healthcare. Zimbabwean leaders do not use Zimbabwean hospitals. When then Vice President Mnangagwa was suspected to have been a victim of poisoning at a rally in 2017, he was airlifted to South Africa for treatment. When Vice President Kembo Mohadi fell ill in 2019, he too was flown to South Africa. This is the legacy left by Robert Mugabe who himself eventually died at a hospital in Singapore.

On the Zimbabwean state’s approach to competitive electoral politics:

When Matebeleland resoundingly voted for ZAPU in the 1980 elections the “Black Government” responded by arresting ZAPU leaders and murdering 20,000 of their supporters in a genocide known as Gukurahundi.

Such torture and murder of opposition supporters have continued over the years.  Just last year, a comedian, Samantha Kurera was abducted by suspected state agents and tortured for producing skits considered to be anti-government. 

What is there to celebrate about Zimbabwean independence?

Zimbabwe turns 40 on 18 April. Growing up, Independence Day was a major deal. With age though, I find myself disoriented and struggling to comprehend what exactly there is to celebrate. What does it mean to be independent? Bornfree?

Free of what? Free from what? Free to do what?

What explains the postcolonial divergence between Kenya and Zimbabwe? 

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