Today is Heroes Day, that important national day when we remember the daring nerve and gallantry of the sons and daughters of this land. Indeed, it is that all-important day when we remember the thousands who died so that the national dream could live again.
The people of this country are a heroic people and throughout history they have fought repression and subjugation. As we brave the current suffering under this regime, one can always bank on the tenacity of the people of this country that they will decisively respond to this sad national predicament.
There is no illusion about the current sad state of the country as evidenced by an economy on the brink, a people surviving on less than US$1 a day, the long bank queues and almost half of the national population that is slugging it out in foreign lands. All this penury stands as a loud testament to the crisis of leadership in Zimbabwe, 37 years after the attainment of national independence.
Of significance is the fact that notwithstanding the sons and daughters of this land who were brutally murdered by the oppressive and racist colonial regime, our independence in 1980 did not bring freedom. Sadly, our independence came alone, unclothed by the requisite people’s freedoms that ought to have come with the advent of uhuru. Zimbabweans today cannot freely express themselves and they remain hamstrung by an equally oppressive government that uses a battery of repressive laws that make it impossible for people to enjoy the freedoms of speech, assembly and movement.
Unlike most of the countries in Africa, we in Zimbabwe waged an armed struggle to unseat the racist colonial government. Only four years ago, as an expression of that independence, we made our own Constitution that we affirmed in a referendum but the current government is brazenly refusing to implement the progressive provisions of that charter that we made ourselves as an independent people.
There is therefore no longer any difference between with oppressive regime that we fought in an armed struggle and the supposed people’s government that came after it. In the words of George Orwell’s Animal Farm, we look from pig to man and from man to pig and we cannot tell which is which!
Fellow Zimbabweans, as we stand on the cusp of a watershed election, we must seriously reflect on the reasons why as a people we fought a brutal war of independence. At the core of that struggle was the right to vote, or one man one vote.
On the eve of next year’s watershed election, we must ensure that the right to vote is secure and that as a people we turn out in our huge numbers to exercise that sacred right for which many Zimbabweans died. We must seriously reflect on that struggle and ensure that the attendant reforms that ensure a free, fair and credible election are in place so that we do not betray the lives lost in our brutal war of independence.
It is heartening that war veterans who were at the centre of that struggle have now belatedly realized that they exclusively fought for one man, if not one family and never for the collective interests of the people. To the vendors, the war veterans, women’s groups, the disabled, the civic and women’s movement, let us mobilize each other and register to vote in realization of the sacred right that was at the core of our liberation struggle.
In conclusion, I wish to say to the youth of this country that you are the game changers in the next election. Do not be fooled by those engaging in so-called interface rallies with you when every day you are in a brutal interface with unemployment, disenfranchisement and poverty.
An old man who comes to you once in five years can only be a betrayal of your future at a time when you are in a daily interface which can only be ominous signs for a very bleak future.
To the youth of Zimbabwe, I say turn out in your huge numbers and make a bold statement in the next election. As I have always said, you cannot outsource your future to anyone but yourselves and you can only do that by encouraging each other to register and to vote in the next election.
Taking the future in your own hand is the only way you can crush poverty. Urge each other to vote. Encourage each other to crush your own poverty, kuponda nhamo as you would say in your zimdancehall lingo.
The only way to do so is to register to vote. It is none but yourselves who hold your own future firmly in your own hands. The youth have always been the revolutionaries and next year, we await to see your own revolution when you turn out in your millions and usher in a new democratic dispensation that will comprehensively address your concerns.
Exercising your right to vote in your large numbers is the only way you can pay tribute to those who lost their limbs so that our collective national aspirations could walk again.
Happy Heroes Day, Zimbabwe.