Zimbabwe’s Independence Anniversary Overshadowed by Economic and Political Crisis

April 18, 2024
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Zimbabwe commemorates its 44th anniversary of independence amid a backdrop of severe economic distress and acute political challenges, the Zimbabwe African People’s Union (ZAPU) said in a poignant statement released this week.

In a sobering reflection, the opposition party highlighted that “our hard-won independence” has been marred by what it describes as the ruling ZANU Patriotic Front’s (ZANU PF) establishment of “a competitive totalitarian regime.”

ZAPU’s statement offers a scathing critique of ZANU PF’s governance, alleging that “genuine opposition parties are decimated using infiltration and outright capture where possible.” It asserts that “truly independent media outlets are also subjected to the same strategy.”

The party particularly revisited the painful memories of the Gukurahundi period, comparing the violence to “Pol Pot’s Cambodia in the 1970s.” They state that “Our people suffered instead of enjoying the fruits of independence,” referring to the crackdown by the government in the early years of Zimbabwe’s independence.

As Zimbabwe grapples with “grinding poverty and mass exodus of its citizens,” according to the statement, ZAPU denounces the government’s economic policies, including the recent introduction of a new currency, the Zimbabwe Gold (ZiG). The party warned that “Zimbabwe’s currency woes could not have come at a worse time,” amidst the ongoing drought ravaging Southern Africa.

ZAPU’s communication underscores the nation’s pervasive food insecurity, claiming that “Some ZANU PF leaders are on record, publicly announcing that only ZANU PF members will be eligible for food aid.” Such practices, if confirmed, could signal a deepening crisis in a nation already on the brink.

The statement concludes with a call to action, urging the citizens of Zimbabwe to rally for change and not to lose hope. “Let us use this Independence Day, to reflect and take stock of our cumbersome journey since 1980… We need national consensus to add freedom to our independence.”

ZANU PF has not yet publicly addressed the accusations leveled by ZAPU in their statement. Attempts by Reuters to obtain a comment from government representatives were not immediately successful.

ZAPU’s call to action echoes the words of Mahatma Gandhi as they invoke change, asserting that “Change is the only constant in the world,” suggesting an urgent need for reform in Zimbabwe’s socio-political landscape.