THIS week Zimbabwe celebrated 38 years of self rule from colonial bondage.
The independence was brought about through a protracted liberation struggle that resulted in the loss of lives. Eventually, on April 18, 1980 the Union Jack was replaced by the Zimbabwean flag signalling the dawn of a new era.
Independence means that locals are now enjoying liberties that were previously denied by the oppressive Ian Smith regime.
All this means improved lifestyles for the generality of the people.
For the past 38 years Zimbabweans have thronged various venues across the country with the main celebrations conducted in Harare, to commemorate independence day.
It has been quite a spectacle but this year’s celebrations have been somewhat unique.
They came at a time when the country is going through a new phase of political leadership seized with a mission to better the lives of people.
Yes, we might be an independent people but that independence is hollow if people’s standard of living is down.
Freedom fighters staged the liberation war because they craved for better life.
The new political dispensation is spot on in working tirelessly to ensure that Zimbabweans enjoy good life they fought for. Good life comes with all the civil liberties as enshrined in our Constitution.
What we witnessed last year before the ascension to power of President Mnangagwa was a complete reversal of the gains of liberation struggle.
Instead of people moving freely, the police had mounted countless roadblocks across the country. Motorists and travellers were harassed as cops demanded hefty bribes.
It was a free-for-all situation.
Corruption had reached unprecedented levels the result of which was widespread poverty and the continued marginalisation of the low bracket of the society.
That’s not the spirit of independence.
Today Zimbabweans have found hope. This new political era has brought back smiles on the faces of many and a close analysis of current activities — both political and economic — show that those calling the shots mean business.
The ‘Zimbabwe is Open for Business’ mantra is fast bringing results and many hope that the country will become an economic hub once more. When that happens jobs will be created and through employment, people will live better lives.
That’s the essence of independence.
At this point in time, it is imperative that President Mnangagwa gets the full support he needs to take this country out of the doldrums. He is a pragmatic leader who wants things done. When the country assumed independence in 1980, many celebrated their right to vote and indeed they practised it and voted a black government into power.
With a total of 46 countries sending their envoys to observe elections come July, President Mnangagwa is dedicated to seeing Zimbabweans practise their right to vote in a free and fair environment before the eyes of the world.
The issue of universal suffrage was central during the liberation struggle and the new political dispensation is duty bound to ensure that people vote freely in fulfilment of one of the grievances that sparked the liberation struggle.
As we celebrate independence, lets us remember that the unity that was shown by our liberation war heroes — both fallen and living — must prevail during these hard times as we fight political and economic battles to improve the standard of living for many.
Zimbabweans now want meaningful independence.