Independence Day – Time for Political, Religious Reflection

OPINION

Today, Zimbabwe marks Independence Day and this year’s commemorations take place in much changed circumstances that are important to the country’s history and nationhood. This is the first time we are celebrating Independence in the “new dispensation” under President Mnangagwa, who replaced one of the country’s founding leaders, former President Robert Mugabe thanks to Operation Restore Legacy that took place in November last year.

That the country is marking Independence in peace and tranquillity that is currently prevailing is something to add the extra cheer, knowing the dangers that could have attended the transition birthed by Operation Restore Legacy.

For some of us in the religious community, we are happy that our prayers were heeded above and that God continues to guide the leadership of this country through the able leadership of President Mnangagwa.

The new dispensation has brought a palpable sense of relief and inspired hope in our people following years of isolation and acrimony.

Our people are daring to dream again.

Church leaders and people often come to me and report the much changed national sentiment.

The past four or so months have brought change in people’s lives, which is hoped to morph into something substantial and transformational once the current leadership settles in a new and full term after elections.

This is an important point of reflection as we commemorate our Independence.

We need not only cherish the long term historical achievements of the last 38 years.

The new dispensation represents another milestone that ought to be celebrated and cherished.

I often hear people talking about the second liberation and beginning of another epoch.

Indeed, there is a renewal – a reboot – that took place in our national system. It is undeniable that President Mnangagwa brought a new culture in Government and the larger politics of the country.

He is working hard for the benefit of the nation and its people and travelling the world, mending bridges and looking at ways to improve the standing of the country among the family of nations.

We were a pariah in the last 20 years.

President Mnangagwa’s making up with our erstwhile detractors will only reflect positively on the nation’s well-being.

In Government, President Mnangagwa has brought a new work ethic as he focuses on delivery.

Zimbabweans ought to complement his efforts through hard work and honesty in our own spheres.

It is fortunate that we have a leader who has his eyes on the ball and focused on changing the livelihoods of the people.

Our people, including churches, appreciate that.

They also appreciate that President Mnangagwa has focused less on politicking and divisive rhetoric, which has led to brothers and sisters finding each other in a new environment of peace and tolerance.

Interestingly, incendiary behaviour and violence have come from others in the political arena and we have witnessed incidents of violence as political players have fought out for supremacy.

We are even more disturbed by remarks attributed to these other political players that have threatened violence by sponsoring our young people to cause mayhem in the country during elections.

That should not be allowed at all costs.

President Mnangagwa is preaching peace and a transparent and credible electoral process.

It is a position that accords with our standpoint as churches.

We want peace and a legitimate Government that rules by the consent of the people whom it accords rights and freedoms – including the freedom of worship, which has been upheld for all these years by the ruling Zanu-PF party.

It would be a blessing to have a leader who cherishes religious freedom and is not given to dishonesty and mendacity.

Our collective duty

I mentioned above that given the culture and environment that President Mnangagwa has brought to Government and politics, it is our duty to complement him.

The exhortation is actually much more: Zimbabweans from churches and civil society; political parties, students, workers and any other grouping need to play their own roles not only to protect the Independence that came 38 years ago on this day, but its legacy, not least the new dispensation.

Churches ought to pray for the nation so that it preserves peace and tranquillity that is currently obtaining.

We need that at all costs, especially as we approach the crucial elections where the world will judge us on our conduct.

Violence and carnage is the last thing that we would like to see in this crucial phase.

We should shame the Devil and churches must help exorcise demons of violence and destruction from our midst.

An important injunction relates to the conduct of political parties in terms of internal dynamics that we have seen wrought violence.

In Zanu-PF, Operation Restore Legacy saw some cadres falling by the wayside and facing disciplinary action.

Some have chosen to go their way and not subject themselves to routine and procedural actions of discipline and have been working against President Mnangagwa.

What I want to urge cadres is to find their way back to the party and strengthen it.

The party is not about individuals. It is not about President Mnangagwa or his predecessor.

On a personal note, I have experienced some painful episodes in the last 20 years as some political injustices and exclusion were directed at me by people such as the now fallen in our province, Mashonaland West.

However, I never ceased my membership of the party due to personal circumstances.

The party is bigger than individuals.

The country, our country whose Independence we are celebrating today, is also bigger than any individuals.

Long live our Independence!

Jimayi Muduvuri is a Zanu-PF National Consultative Assembly member and patron of Zimbabwe Amalgamated Churches Council.

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