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Full Text: Nelson Chamisa’ Independence Speech



Today, the 18th of April 2021, we commemorate 41 years of Independence – an important national day in the history of our country.

The importance of independence cannot be understated; for it speaks to our being, identity, nationhood and patriotism.

Our independence was hard-won and fought for by every man, woman and child in this country.

Independence was a product of citizens’ convergence around the liberation idea and promise – the liberation consensus.

The occasion of Zimbabwe’s independence has always been a moment of great pride and triumph for us as a people who were once subjugated and held hostage by the cleavages of a system of oppression.

I join you in paying tribute to all our iconic heroes and heroines who sacrificed for the independence of our country from subjugation and repressive colonial rule.

The struggle’s seminal role in our history cannot be erased. It is part of our national heritage and national treasure as we honour the gallant sons and daughters, men and women who died for a great cause.

Our debt of gratitude and unconditional appreciation goes to those who sacrificed their lives for the independence of our beloved beautiful Zimbabwe. We give special recognition to the liberation heroes, war veterans, military and security services personnel, our retired veterans and all of you, the brave and patriotic people of Zimbabwe, for sacrificing everything for the attainment of our independence.

The war was waged by the majority to dismantle colonial injustices and the cause for restoration of dignity, universal suffrage (one-person-one-vote), land ownership and economic independence and prosperity of this great country.

Thousands perished for this great and noble cause. The war was waged for the establishment of a just and fair society where all citizens are treated the same regardless of their gender, race, creed, ethnicity or political affiliation affording them equal opportunity to prosper and pursue happiness.

The liberation effort was a pursuit and quest to establish a Transformational Democratic Developmental State, which places people at the centre of all developmental programs.

That promise of independence remains unfulfilled – the idea of independence was and is a pact and a contract between Zimbabwe and its citizens.

The liberation promise, the freedom promise, the peace promise, the prosperity promise and the transformation promise remain elusive for the greater number of our people. This promise remains unfulfilled leading to many people, young and old, even questioning its worth.

The 41-year-old journey thus far has proved that more still needs to be done to ensure that the People of Great Zimbabwe enjoy the fruits of the independence that came as a result of the selfless sacrifice by the combatants and the bravery of the masses who together complemented one another to ensure the victory of the liberation war effort.

Four decades later, we are confronted with another threat to that Independence in the form of a minority system based on brutality, marginalisation and discrimination, impunity and persecution using the Rhodesian manual or template of repression.

After 41 years, we have not matured into a multi-party democracy that celebrates the diversity of opinion and respects Constitutionalism. We have had one continuous Republic of violence, dictatorship and repression.

The future of the Republic and its progressive development is under threat and cannot be guaranteed if we don’t change course. It is vital to note that the spirit of independence did not end in 1980.

It is an ongoing spirit, a never-ending indomitable spirit, one that has spurred fighters for democracy to ensure that the promises of 1980 are fulfilled. The spirit of independence must inspire present generations to keep on fighting and not to despair.

Young people stood up against the colonial regime when it seemed impossible. The fight against repression is never impossible.

Fellow citizens, the contradictions arresting Zimbabwe today are a result of the hijacking of the agenda of the liberation struggle and a clear disrespect of those who sacrificed to secure the independence we are talking about today. It cannot be acceptable to have the levels of poverty in our society today; the people of Zimbabwe are subjected to unpalatable suffering, living from hand to mouth.

There is a need for economic emancipation; which includes opening up resources to ensure inclusive participation especially by women and the youth.

There is also a need to end international isolation. The country has suffered long periods of isolation since 1965 and this has largely been self-inflicted.

A return to democracy, protection of human rights and fairness are critical in the path towards inclusion in the community of nations. Our independence was a product of African solidarity and international support.

We salute African countries for their help to the liberation effort. We salute Zambia and other frontline states such as Tanzania for liberation assistance. Mozambique in particular played a critical role in the liberation of Zimbabwe.

In this regard, may we deploy our solidarity to the great people of Mozambique as they go through a difficult period in their country?

An unstable Mozambique is an unstable SADC and indeed an unstable Africa. A threat to one is a threat to all. A lasting solution must be found in Mozambique so that there is peace and security in the region.

We call for the complete realization and preservation of an independent Africa as the continent’s new agenda to realize the aspirations of an independent African continent. An African continent that is free from oppression, an African continent that is driven by ideas and not instruments of repression.

Today is our national birthday. We have just turned 41. We take stock of our journey of growth since a euphoric birth in 1980. Much has been accomplished but more needs to be done.

At 41, we have missed opportunities, neglected advantages and wasted moments. We have neglected the obvious quick wins and low-hanging fruit. At 41, there is so much unhappiness, anxiety and despair undeserved of citizens of such a great and rich country.

At 41, the plight of our esteemed veterans is a source of disappointment. We don’t have adequate support and welfare benefits for our war veterans. Many still carry wounds and injuries from the wars. Many are living in abject poverty and under squalid conditions.

At 41, we have not addressed the national question and a shared national vision for our country. At 41, we still have one television station for the whole country with some parts of the country without radio, internet or network coverage. Having to rely on networks from neighbouring countries.

At 41, the heavy-handedness of the State against dissenting voices is something that needs to be resolved to nourish the democratic space. Many have trumped-up charges against them. Some are in prison for seeking to exercise their rights and fundamental freedoms.

At 41, the existence of political prisoners of conscience and individuals in this country, who are accused of political crimes of demanding more rights and freedoms, is a clear reminder that our independence has been emptied of its meaning and in fact, become a new place of oppression and lack of independence for the ordinary citizens of this country.

At 41, the continued assault on the opposition MDC Alliance as a party that represents multiparty democracy is also evidence that our country is on a dangerous path to the entrenchment of a one-party state. As we speak Last Tamai Maengahama and Tungamirai Madzokere have been in prison for years for a crime they did not commit, on top of 2 years of pre-trial detention. Makomborero Haruzivishe is serving 14 months in prison for sitting down and whistling.

A Member of Parliament, Hon Joana Mamombe and youth leader, Cecilia Chimbiri are in prison for holding a press conference on top of the unspeakable ordeal they went through last year.

At 41, political tolerance is still a missing link. Draconian laws and bills are sailing through parliament. We scheme against each other instead of planning together for a Great Zimbabwe. At 41, we are a divided country where those in politics are purveyors of violence and merchants of polarisation propagating hate and spewing vitriol as their core business.

At 41, we have rulers who invest in criminalizing citizens ’ through several pieces of draconian law such as the mooted Patriotic Act, the proposed Cyberlaw and the shameless amendments and bastardization of the national Constitution.

At 41, Zimbabwe finds itself introducing youth brainwashing disguised as national service, indicating a reversal of the gains of independence. At 41, the continued regression and the redrawing of the country’s constitution so that it resembles the Lancaster house agreement is an indication that the independence was not about progressing this country for Zimbabweans but taking it back, as close as possible to colonial times.

At 41, we are back to the old colonial days of hut tax, dog tax and land tax. At 41, we have a political elite who lack the conscience and care for citizens, having abandoned the responsibility to account, lead and serve.

At 41, what we have is a direct replacement of a dominant and oppressive settler minority with a dominant and oppressive indigenous elite minority.

At 41, we have rigged, disputed elections and disputed government. Comprehensive structural political and electoral reforms are yet to be implemented to create a level playing field.

At 41, the World Bank estimates the number of extremely poor people is around 7,9 million as of December 2020 — almost half the population. Poverty in Zimbabwe has increased by 21% in the last decade. It is now at its highest level in recorded history.

Extreme poverty is now 40% of the population. At 41, we have the second-highest level of inflation in the entire world, with currency uncertainty and volatility. At 41, we have erosion of people’s value in banks including the loss of value in people’s salaries and pensions.

At 41, we have a country drowning in debt due to the irresponsibility of a criminal elite that is unable to live within its means. At 41, workers are without a decent wage. Our teachers, nurses and civil servants are without decent salaries and that merited dignity.

At 41, corruption has derailed the independence dream, eroding all the gains of the liberation dream. Corruption is killing us. At 41, our beautiful Zimbabwe is without solid infrastructure. Our roads, bridges, water and communication infrastructure are in a sorry state.

At 41, thousands of graduates from universities struggle to get jobs with the in-dependent unemployment rate estimated to be above 90%. The economy is highly informal. At 41, Zimbabwe has produced an entire generation of brilliant young people unable to derive value from the dignity of hard work, from academic brilliance to art and sporting excellence.

Nobody rewards the young. At 41, we witness an exponential spike in social vices such as drug abuse and violent crimes. At 41, we run the risk of being a breeding ground for radicalization in the context of rising extremism.

Lessons should be learnt from the situation in Mozambique. At 41, dereliction of duty has failed an entire generation, failure to establish a growing economy that is inclusive and able to create decent jobs for our youth. This is the only way to create a buffer against the radicalization of young people, it is the only way to ensure a sense of belonging for the young people.

At 41, the majority of our talented and skilled citizens are in the diaspora seeking greener pastures and greater opportunities. At 41, we have an abandoned social agenda with a collapsed public health delivery system where 7 babies die in a day, a disgruntled public service and a chaotic education sector.

At 41, quality education and healthcare remain the preserve of a privileged few. Many parents cannot afford school fees, medical fees and food for their families. At 41, our senior citizens and pensioners are without safety needs and cushioning.

At 41, many are still without title to land. At 41, we have forced evictions of Zimbabweans by a captured elite representing interests of exploitative capitalism and politically connected persons. The resolution of the land question in a manner beneficial to all of Zimbabwe’s citizens is a national priority.

Our message to all Zimbabweans in rural areas, farming areas and broader Zimbabwe is that under our leadership you will have title and ownership of their land. Under rural modernization, there will be title and value to the land.

The land belongs to the people. It is a right and it will be protected. Land ownership and title deeds for the rural and farming communities must be guaranteed. Devolution and empowerment of communities is a crucial issue in the context of a spate of unjust evictions in Chilonga, Hwange, Chiadzwa, Chisumbanje to mention but a few. But all these challenges will come to pass.

So many challenges, yet a BIG opportunity to reimagine and rebuild a New, Great Zimbabwe! Our answer lies in us all answering to the CONVERGENCE CALL.

The call for a new national consensus entails the convergence of all citizens for real change and national transformation.

Today is a day for introspection. Zimbabwe must unite, converge and rediscover itself. It is time to converge and shed off undesirable retrogressive bad habits and broken politics.

It is time to converge, refocus and build a great Zimbabwe, a time to converge and seek an inclusive solution to our national challenges, based on a genuine acceptance and apologies for mistakes of the past.

It is time to converge and give true meaning to independence and the sanctity of a vote.

It is time to converge and allow our best to be unleashed as we all work towards rapid transformation, quick economic recovery and prosperity.

It is time to converge and restore the political rights and civil liberties which the liberation generation sacrificed for. It is time to Converge and assert the people’s victory.

It is time to converge and reposition Zimbabwe to its rightful place among the family of Nations. It is time to converge and embrace Truth and Reconciliation for national healing.

It is time to converge and break from the dark past characterized by Gukurahundi, marginalisation, exclusion, violence and corruption. It is time for transparency and accountability. It is time for the restoration of Great Zimbabwe to its Jewel status.

This Independence Day is a moment to re-imagine the liberation promise through a citizens’ convergence for change. Now is the time to have a citizens’ convergence for change to give true meaning to independence and patriotism.

A Great Zimbabwe is coming. Together we can! One people, One Vision, One Nation. Winning Zimbabwe for a change! Change that delivers! God Bless You.

God Bless Our Great Zimbabwe.

God bless Africa.

God is in it!! Thank you. Have a blessed Independence Day.

Proud citizen of Africa,

Nelson Chamisa 2021

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Multi-award winning journalist/photojournalist with keen interests in politics, youth, child rights, women and development issues. Follow Lovejoy On Twitter @L_JayMut

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