A strong message which came out of President Mugabe’s speech marking Zimbabwe’s 37 years of Independence yesterday was the importance of unity. It is something that has eluded many nations, sadly, something which Zimbabweans often take for granted.
The Unity Accord signed by President Mugabe and the late Vice President Joshua Nkomo in December 1987 has allowed the people of Zimbabwe to chart an independent path to self-rule which other nations in Africa have failed to do.
The biggest by-product of that peace and unity is that Zimbabwe has managed to forge ahead and reclaim its land from alien settlers. That is the biggest prize of that liberation.
As the President pointed out yesterday, the land is now under our full control “and is for us to work on, build on, and profit from”. Without peace and unity that would not be possible. But we have had a political leadership which has been committed to peace by way of policy.
The land reform programme launched in 2000 is the anchor of Zimbabwe’s indigenisation and black economic empowerment policies.
One of the reasons Africans have not benefited from the end of colonial rule is that independence has been no more than a token achievement.
Political freedom has not been accompanied by economic independence, something which should start with control over natural resources and being able to exploit these for the benefit of the majority.
Colonial propaganda has taught that blacks only need jobs. It is the white race and its multinational corporations who should own and control natural resources and make all major decisions about the national economy. Government, so the propaganda goes, should only create an enabling environment to allow capitalists to reap maximum profits from the country’s raw materials.
Zimbabwe under Zanu-PF has in the past 17 years since 2000 been challenging this myth, which has led to sanctions being imposed on the country by the West. The message has been very simple: African resources belong to Africa. We can only derive maximum benefit from that over which we have control.
That is why there has been so much hostility and opposition to the whole indigenisation thrust. It empowers blacks to decide how their resources are used, and to control them. It allows black people to benefit first hand from their resources as producers. Tobacco farmers can testify to that.
There is no white magic involved in producing tobacco and earning the country foreign currency. There is no inherent logic in why whites should be farmers while blacks provide cheap labour.
It is therefore no exaggeration to state that Zimbabwe is one of the few nations in Africa to give practical expression to the whole notion of political independence. It doesn’t end with a national flag. Independence without control over the economy is a charade.
It was therefore heartening that Zimbabwe yesterday celebrated 37 years of independence with the economy largely in the hands of black people. The war is far from over. There are still a million challenges ahead. Our people are still learning while they are subjected to a barrage of propaganda from those who took nearly a century to master the art of farming, with limitless support from their racist government and equally racist financial institutions.
That is why we believe Government still has a major role in helping our struggling farmers to grow. They still must learn skills to run businesses, from being mere farm labourers. They also require resources.
That is not to say all people who got land deserve it. There are many who have betrayed the nation and should be kicked out of the farms. We need an audit of who is doing what before Government can consider issuing title deeds to farmers. Those who want land for speculative purposes are doing the nation a disservice.
But those are minor negatives. Zanu-PF can look at its achievement since 1980 with pride. It has achieved a lot in the face of adversity, including Zimbabweans sponsored by outside forces to oppose and undermine all Government policies which seek to empower the black majority.
Let’s maintain the peace and unity as we forge ahead. With these two, victory against imperialist machinations is certain.