PRESIDENT Mugabe turned 93 on Tuesday, exhibiting a selfless life entirely dedicated to Pan-African values hinged on the empowerment of the black people in Zimbabwe and Africa in general.
As we celebrate with him this important milestone in the life of such an illustrious statesman, we need to take stock of the policies and developmental initiatives he spearheaded since independence to make this country a better world.
It is common knowledge that the contemporary Zimbabwean situation is miles better than the conditions of 1980 which still had fresh marks of colonial injustices tied on separate development of blacks and whites.
Yes, the country might be facing unique difficulties today largely due to illegal economic sanctions by the West, but the effects and results of people-centred development
programmes ushered by President Mugabe since 1980 cannot be wished away. On the education front, Zimbabwe is currently rated among the best in Africa in terms of quality education as evidenced by the high literacy rate. This explains why graduates from this part of the world do wonders where ever they go globally.
There are enough schools in the country for all children who want quality education, with most of the schools well equipped. However, more needs to be done on schools in newly resettled areas that still require assistance in the form of classroom space, books, desks and other consumables. We believe in the coming years the situation will have greatly improved.
The new education curriculum is heavily tilted towards vocational training, which complements Government’s empowerment programmes that emphasise employment creation through value addition. President Mugabe is credited for rolling out the land reform programme that has immensely benefited the once landless locals who now have farms and plots to till on. By any measure, the land reform programme is the biggest empowerment initiative Zimbabweans have had since independence.
Over the years, those on the farms will become experts and realise meaningful benefits from tilling the land. Our fast track land redistribution exercise has become a model on which other African states are coping notes with a view of instituting the same in their nations.
All this was championed by President Mugabe who had to weather all sorts of criticisms from former colonial masters who lobbied for a complete reversal of the agrarian reforms. Sanctions were imposed as a measure to counter black empowerment, but our leadership remained resolute.
The same can be said with the indigenisation programme that ushered locals to take up leading roles in important businesses.
The bottom line was that the imbalances that were created during colonialism elbowed out locals in having a say in big businesses today, a situation that had to be redeemed through affirmative action via the enactment of laws to achieve that.
President Mugabe knows very well that total freedom for the black people is only attainable by opening up the economy and ensure the participation of all. Now we have black people heavily involved in mining, construction, e-commerce, transportation and other spheres of the economy that were once dominated by foreigners.
As we wish him many more years to come, we find comfort in his birthday speech which, among other things, denounced rampant corruption which is currently the biggest enemy in reversing the gains of independence.
President Mugabe said he would not party with thieves and would tackle corruption by bigwigs.
“We must be a clean party. It’s very important. I don’t want to run a party ine mathieves and corrupt persons. If ether is evidence, we will pursue that evidence and certainly we will deal with the persons,” he said.
Many agree with the President on corruption and once this vice is dealt with, Zimbabweans will enjoy the fruits of all the empowerment programmes that were developed by him to better the lives of the ordinary.
Now that the diamonds are being controlled by the State, as President Mugabe said, we believe that the country will benefit from the precious gems unlike before when only a few individuals looted everything. With your leadership, Mr President, the country is destined for greater things ahead. The challenges we are facing today are temporal for they cannot stand in the way of permanent life-changing empowerment programmes you have ushered for the country.
After dark night comes bright day, so they say.