On April 18, Zimbabweans from all walks of life celebrated the country’s hard won independence and this was a time to take stock of achievements over the past 37 years of black majority rule.
South Africa commemorated its Freedom Day on 27 April, a day set aside to mark the first democratic election in that country in 1994, ending more than three centuries of colonial subjugation of the majority by a minority. Freedom Day marks the liberation of the country and its people from a long period of colonialism and white minority domination under the apartheid system.
Last month, on March 21, Namibia celebrated its 27th Independence anniversary a day that saw the country breaking the yokes of apartheid and colonial bondage.
Independence and the attainment of majority rule in Southern Africa is a time to reflect and recognise the immense sacrifices made by the gallant sons and daughters of the region – the departed and the living — who took up arms to confront the racist, apartheid, imperial and colonial system that had reduced the black majority to hewers of wood and drawers of water in their own lands.
The results are there for everyone to see and it is the duty of everyone to jealously guard this independence and freedoms to the hilt.
As the countries celebrated their sovereignty, there is need to take stock of the achievements made over the past decades as they move forward and consolidate the gains made over the years.
At the same, it must be categorically stated that independence and freedoms that the people of region enjoy today must never be taken for granted as they never came on a silver platter. Indeed, thousands who took up arms to fight the successive oppressive and racist colonial governments died fighting and their fight was not in vain.
We take note of statements by Zimbabwe’s Defence Minister Dr Sydney Sekeramayi that the SADC region must remain vigilant, even as it has attained political freedom, as detractors are still looking for ways of destabilising countries in the region.
Last week, we quoted Dr Sekeramayi, a key member of the ruling Zanu-PF party, as saying SADC security and defence officials were on high alert following intelligence reports of heightened destabilisation activities in countries governed by former liberation movements.
He said the region was alive to covert plans by elements from some Western nations fomenting internal strife to effect regime change.
It is trite that leaders in the region are aware of these machinations and must therefore remain on top of the game.
There might doubting Thomases among us but what Dr Sekeramayi said was very visible a few weeks ago when reactionary forces took to the streets in South Africa demonstrating against that country’s President Jacob Zuma who they want to leave office even before his term of office has expired.
We also take note that the demonstrations came just a few weeks after President Zuma had called for a radical approach to the land reforms in his country.
Namibia has also called for a similar approach, having noted that the willing-buyer willing-seller model of land reforms does not work and has never worked anywhere in the world.
As we also report in last week’s issue, President Hage Geingob is calling for a more serious approach to land reforms and black economic empowerment and we will not be surprised if the same reactionary forces that marched against Zuma and want him out are reigned against him too.
We need not look further than Zimbabwe after it embarked on land reforms in 2000 wherein these forces ruthlessly descended on the country and played havoc with its economy through sanctions.
These are the forces the Zimbabwean Defence Minister refers to which have never been happy that Africans are now exploiting their own resources and have never been happy that we are independent.
We are, however, glad that liberation movements in the region regularly exchange notes and are aware of the forces ranged against them. But as countries and liberation movements in the region cherish their hard won political independence, they must never skirt around issues of economic independence and empowerment for their peoples.
There is therefore a need to jealously guard the political independence of countries of the region and at the same time tackle economic empowerment with a unity of purpose towards the exploitation and beneficiation of their natural resources for the benefit of all.