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Zim@44: A Nation’s Struggle Against Stagnation and Exodus

As Zimbabwe commemorates yet another year of independence, the milestone serves as a bitter reminder of the paradoxical journey the nation has embarked upon.

With each passing year since gaining autonomy from colonial rule, Zimbabwe has seen its calendar marked with celebrations, but behind the façade of national pride lies a narrative of unfulfilled promises, political turmoil, and socioeconomic woes.

On paper, Zimbabwe boasts of forty-four years of independence, a feat that should be celebrated with jubilation.

However, the reality paints a starkly different picture. While the years have accumulated, the progress in critical areas such as political reforms, elections management, and human rights has stagnated, if not regressed.

Politically, Zimbabwe finds itself stuck in a web of authoritarianism, with power concentrated in the hands of a few. Promised reforms have stalled, leaving a system that stifles dissent and curtails freedoms.

Elections once heralded as beacons of democracy, have been marred by irregularities and allegations of manipulation.

In its Independence Day message, the Zimbabwe Election Support Network (ZESN) called on the urgent need for electoral reforms.

Despite the progress, the 2023 Harmonised Elections were conducted without substantial changes to the electoral system, which many believe are necessary for credible elections.

“In the spirit of Uhuru, we must continue to push for reforms that reflect the will of the people,” the ZESN said.

“The amendments made to the Electoral Act in 2022 were a step in the right direction, but they fell short of addressing the key issues that would ensure transparent and credible elections.”

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The voices of dissent are stifled, and opposition figures face intimidation, harassment, and even incarceration, casting a shadow of doubt over the democratic process.

Human rights abuses have become a chilling norm, with reports of extra-judicial killings, torture, and arbitrary arrests staining the nation’s reputation.

Opposition leader Advocate Nelson Chamisa retorted that true independence is amiss if it fails to uphold the dignity and happiness of its citizens.

“Independence is empty without the dignity and happiness of its beneficiaries!” he said.

The very freedoms that the independence fighters once fought for are now under siege, leaving citizens disillusioned and disheartened.

Economic policies, once envisioned as catalysts for prosperity, have instead led to a downward spiral of inflation, unemployment, and poverty.

The once vibrant economy is now crippled, with job opportunities scarce and livelihoods hanging by a thread.

The promise of a better future has faded into oblivion, leaving many to grapple with the harsh realities of survival.

Perhaps most concerning is the exodus of Zimbabwe’s youth in search of greener pastures abroad. This brain drain further depletes the country of its potential, as the energy and talents of its youth are invested elsewhere.

Faced with a bleak future and limited opportunities at home, young people are forced to leave behind their families and homeland in pursuit of a better life elsewhere.

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The brain drain deprives Zimbabwe of its most valuable resource – its human capital – further exacerbating the challenges plaguing the nation.

In his Independence Day speech, President Emmerson Mnangagwa said he is alive to the economic needs of the people.

“Government is alive to the adverse impact suffered by our people as a result of currency volatility and inflation…” he said.

Not all hope is lost, however. According to ZESN, Zimbabwe has made significant strides in ensuring that the voice of every citizen is heard.

“The introduction of the Biometric Voter Registration and the consistent conduct of periodic elections are testaments to our commitment to democracy,” the statement further read.

As Zimbabwe reflects on 44 years of independence, it finds itself at a crossroads, grappling with the weight of its past and the uncertainty of its future.

The journey towards true liberation is far from over, and the road ahead is fraught with obstacles and challenges.

Yet, amidst the adversity, there remains a glimmer of hope – a hope for a Zimbabwe where democracy thrives, human rights are respected, and prosperity is within reach for all its citizens.

It is a hope that must be nurtured and cherished, for it is only through collective effort and unwavering determination that Zimbabwe can truly fulfil the promise of its independence.

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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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