BY DESMOND CHINGARANDE/SILAS NKALA/STEPHEN CHADENGA
PRESIDENT Emmerson Mnangagwa yesterday said his administration had consolidated democracy, constitutionalism and rule of law in the pursuit of social justice, but main opposition MDC Alliance and other government critics rubbished the claims saying they were being denied the freedom to truly honour their heroes.
In his Heroes Day speech, Mnangagwa said his second republic had improved citizens’ lives compared to the previous administration which he said marginalised the majority.
“The second republic has, since its inception, accelerated the entrenchment and consolidation of democracy, constitutionalism and the rule of law in pursuit of social justice and equal opportunities for the economic empowerment of the previously marginalised majority,” he said.
“A firm foundation has been laid and continues to be strengthened for a thriving constitutional democracy, and a just, open, accountable and prosperous society.”
Mnangagwa said despite challenges and attacks on the country, the future looked bright.
“The 40th Heroes Day anniversary comes at a time when the second republic is accelerating our national development. This is in spite of the continued illegal sanctions imposed by some Western countries, coupled with the negative impact of climate change which has grossly affected our economic growth projections,” the Zanu PF leader said.
“We must as Zimbabweans close ranks by uniting, in peace, harmony and with resolute patriotism and self-love to chart a brighter future for ourselves and for the sake of our motherland.
With unfaltering determination, and emboldened by the experiences of the unrelenting attacks on our country in the past two decades, we know that the future is bright. Our success is inevitable.”
Mnangagwa’s plea for unity came at a time over 30 MDC Alliance activists, among others, have reportedly fled their homes as State security agents crack down on dissent.
In recent weeks, many political activists and citizens have been arrested, with others abducted and tortured by suspected State security for allegedly inciting or participating in the July 31 anti-corruption protests.
However, MDC Alliance leader Nelson Chamisa said due to rampant human rights abuses by Mnangagwa’s administration Zimbabwe had no true freedom.
“Our comrades Hopewell Chin’ono, Jacob Ngarivhume and all others under persecution count on all of us for support and solidarity. There is no real or true freedom for us when fellow citizens are unjustly deprived of their freedoms,” Chamisa said.
“Rights and freedoms of all Zimbabweans is our key duty, an injury to one is an injury to all. We must all stand together in peace to bring freedom, peace and justice to our land. We must have happiness, prosperity and opportunities in our lifetime. This all demands you and us all to make a difference. Zimbabwe needs you.”
Former northern region Zimbabwe People’s Revolutionary Army commander Andrew Ndlovu said national events like the Heroes Day should not be politicised.
“Those who died and those who are alive are one and the same and they must be appreciated equally. Everyone who participated during the liberation struggle, from the women who cooked food for us, youth who gave us information about the enemy and those who clothed us should not be left out when thinking about the Heroes Day,” Ndlovu said.
“Our role from various angles must never be associated with the 40 years of government failure by the rogue elements. The liberation war fighters must not be blamed for the failures, but all those who were there in 1980 and voted for their own Idi Amin (the late former President Robert Mugabe) must blame themselves for having done so. What is happening to date must not be blamed on the war veterans, but the electorate who chose their own Amin.”
Idi Amin was a Ugandan military officer who served as the President of Uganda from 1971 to 1979 and is considered one of the worst despots in world history.
Ndlovu called on citizens to “stand up for their rights” and not fear the Zanu PF regime, adding that a transitional authority comprising of Zanu PF, MDC, and Zapu could have saved the country after the November 2017 coup that toppled Mugabe.
“We did not fight for people to suffer like this. The current government must work for the people with a non-partisan approach … segregating others sends a wrong message that the liberation struggle was only fought for a certain group of people,” he said.
In the Midlands province, residents said “real heroes” were turning in their graves.
“Today (yesterday) we mark another Heroes Day when ideals of the liberation struggle have been long forgotten,” James Chiseko, a resident, said.
“We have a situation where these values have been replaced by the greedy elite whose concentration on fattening their pockets at the expense of serving people is legendary.
“Surely the fallen heroes must be turning in their graves over this circus.”
Another resident, Grace Moyo from Mtapa suburb said what the late heroes fought for was being sacrificed for “self-aggrandisement” by a few.
“Surely Josiah Tongogara, Jason Ziyaphapha Moyo, Herbert Chitepo and Joshua Nkomo among others did not fight for this,” she said.
“While gallant sons and daughters sacrificed their lives to free people we have a few elite in government who have chosen to violate rights guaranteed in the Constitution.”
Meanwhile, the Embassy of the Russian Federation yesterday congratulated Zimbabwe on its 40th Heroes Day and the Zimbabwe Defence Forces Day commemorations.
“The embassy joins the gallant sons and daughters of Zimbabwe and commemorates shaking off oppression, maintaining independence and ensuring security of this blessed land. By honouring the heroes and their deeds we pay respect to those who sacrificed their lives for the great cause of African liberation. Peace and prosperity to the Zimbabweans,” the statement read.
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