The Sunday Mail
This year’s Uhuru Day will be a celebration of several firsts.
It is the first under a new administration, one led by President Emmerson Mnangagwa. It is the first without Mr Robert Mugabe as Head of State and Government. It is the first one in a long time in which Zimbabweans look to the future with a renewed sense of hope.
For many Zimbabweans, the ties between Independence Day and the revolutionary events of November 2017 are unavoidable.
November 2017, in ways similar to April 1980, was a manifestation of the fulfilment of people’s wishes, the dawn of new era, and the regeneration of the nation.
A significant variance between Independence Day of years gone by and Independence Day in 2018 can be found in the interpretation of patriotism espoused by the new administration.
Malcom X advised a long time ago that, “You’re not to be so blind with patriotism that you can’t face reality. Wrong is wrong, no matter who does it or says it.”
Before him, Samuel Johnson was even more vicious: “Patriotism is the last refuge of a scoundrel.”
Patriotism is an essential pillar of nation building, but patriotism does not mean blind loyalty.
As Amilcar Cabral noted, independence is without meaning if it is not backed by the wishes of the people. Which resonates well with President Mnangagwa’s maxim that “the voice of the people is the voice of God”.
Cabral noted: “Always bear in mind that people are not fighting for ideas, for the things in anyone’s head. They are fighting to win material benefits, to live better and in peace, to see their lives go forward, to guarantee the future for their children.”
This statement is central to President Mnangagwa’s way of going about the business of running a country.
President Mnangagwa is fronting a new order of patriotism that appeals to the people’s aspirations and not high sounding nothings.
Back to the source
President Mnangagwa has made it clear that the country belongs to all Zimbabweans: a key founding principle of the nation and the Republic.
Political analyst Mr Admire Mare says this year’s Independence Day brings new hope for Zimbabweans as it returns to the source.
“I think it is important to celebrate Independence under the new dispensation because for the first time after 37 years, we have someone different at the helm of the country,” he says.
“This brings to the fore the idea of democracy which many people fought for. Unlike past years, where one person and his hangers-on had personalised the country, the change of leadership heralds a new dawn that is beyond personality cults.
“Therefore, Independence Day 2018 is a platform to reflect on the Zimbabwe we want and that Zimbabwe is open for business.
“What is also significant is that it comes a few months before elections; it must speak to the idea of unity, one Zimbabwe, one country and one people.
“Although people may differ politically, they must continue to focus on the national question and vision.”
Few can deny that political rights and freedoms are better expressed today than they were this time last year.
At his inauguration ceremony, President Mnangagwa made the event truly national.
Opposition leaders like the now late Morgan Tsvangirai, Nelson Chamisa and Joice Mujuru were there to celebrate President Mnangagwa’s ascension and the breaking of a new dawn.
It is without doubt that the country is beginning to witness an era where Government pursues issues of national interest ahead of cheap politicking.
President Mnangagwa has emphasised political tolerance and has made every progressive citizen feel they are part and parcel of a new Zimbabwe.
The polarising politics of years gone by made some Zimbabweans feel they were not part of Independence Day, but all that has now changed.
The Zimbabwe is open for business mantra advanced by President Mnangagwa bodes well for economic growth and it will result in the creation of jobs and re-engagement with the international community.
This is in stark contrast to the previous Government’s isolationist approach that allowed the then leaders to grandstand but deliver zilch.
Now investors are flocking to Zimbabwe in droves and investment commitments made thus far have exceeded UD$7 billion in just four months.
It is only a matter of time before the benefits start to flow and we wave goodbye to our economic challenges.