Zimbabwe is celebrating 37 years of independence from colonial rule on Tuesday yet the embittered opposition say there is nothing to celebrate about.
93-year-old President Robert Mugabe started the celebration on Monday when he spent some time with school children gathered at an indoor sports centre in Harare.
“You must remember that we took our land back from our erstwhile colonisers … you are the inheritors of it,” he told the children at their party.
Mugabe, who has been caught on camera at several high-profiled occasions dozing off, told the children to “remember to guard against dozing off during lessons”. “You should not feel tempted to turn lessons into a siesta,” he was reported to have said jokingly.
We commemorate and not celebrate because the stinking poverty around us and the extreme suffering of the people is not worth celebrating.
Ahead of the major celebration at the National Sports Stadium, opposition leaders and supporters have expressed disdain towards the celebration.
“We commemorate and not celebrate because the stinking poverty around us and the extreme suffering of the people is not worth celebrating. Our current sad national predicament is not commensurate with the sacrifice we made as a nation in the brutal struggle for our independence,” leader of the opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC-T) party, Morgan Tsvangirai said in a statement.
“It is indeed a day worth commemorating. If this great national day had not been privatized by parochial partisanship, I would have taken my family to join thousands others for the national celebrations to pay homage to this country’s heroism in bringing independence,” he added.
Also, opposition People’s Democratic Party (PDP) spokesperson, Jacob Mafume told local portal News Day that Zimbabweans have nothing to show for the independence being celebrated.
“We have so many years of so-called independence, yet Zimbabwe families are desperate and have nothing to show for all the years. The political independence is all but lost, as a number of laws make sure you can be taken to court for your beliefs and opinions, the irony being that those taken to court are the lucky ones, as the others are simply beaten or have food denied them,” he said.
Despite the economic turmoil, political instability, and massive protests against the Mugabe regime, many Zimbabweans are celebrating the independence gained from the United Kingdom on 18 April 1980.
Zimbabwe is due to hold its next presidential and parliamentary election in July 2018.
93-year-old Mugabe has been endorsed as the ruling ZANU-PF party’s presidential candidate to continue the presidency he assumed since independence.
Below are some reactions from Zimbabweans and the world at large.
#Zimbabwe celebrates Independence Day. When at Heroes Acre please take a moment and think about genuine reasons why you are celebrating.— Stuart Ziwewe (@Stuartziwewe) April 18, 2017
Zimbabwe was freed from physical colonial rule, we need psychological/mental freedom, Happy Independence folks! #AfricaRise— #Nyari Mashayamombe (@nyarimash) April 18, 2017
African president's need to show Ubuntu, we should be celebrating each other's independence days. Today should be a holiday. For Zimbabwe. 😏— Ng'onga Kal Splash (@splaash1) April 18, 2017
Zimbabwe 🇿🇼 37 years old today from independence to dependence – get well soon!!— Moses Madamombe (@mozmada) April 18, 2017
Happy Independence day to Zimbabwe✊🏾 37 Years of freedom💃🏾 God bless the nation Nyika Ye Zimbabwe 🇿🇼 pic.twitter.com/koxeb08mue— Princess Kaybee (@RuvaMaps) April 17, 2017
Wishing l was home and have another day to celebrate independence day with my folks and chommies , missing my Zimbabwe— Min. Mavhangira (@TMavhangira) April 18, 2017
#Zimbabwe Independence alright, one leader since inception. I wonder tho maybe democracy just isn't for the black man..— Paida Misi (@simon_misi) April 18, 2017
Happy Independence Day Zimbabwe 🇿🇼 pic.twitter.com/Tti22uEbDC— Daddy Yo 🤓 (@JjSesing) April 18, 2017
Happy Independence Day 🇿🇼— tina (@tmashababe) April 18, 2017
Praying for a better Zimbabwe today and years to come
SADC Secretariat (@SADC_News) April 18, 2017
Zimbabwe claimed it's independence from the UK in 1980 and only the skin colour of the oppressor changed from the white men to a black man— The Instigator (@AmBlujay) April 18, 2017
Bob Marley performing his song Zimbabwe on 17th April 1980 during Independence Celebrations in Zimbabwe pic.twitter.com/ByhS7xaWvr— The Instigator (@AmBlujay) April 18, 2017