Zimbabwe turns 40 years on Saturday. However, there won’t be any mass celebrations to mark this milestone due to the outbreak of the coronavirus.
Zimbabwe’s ruby anniversary has been a journey of laughter, sorrow, hope, despair, and anxiety.
Ever since Independence in 1980, the southern African nation has never enjoyed a period of more than 10 years without disturbances in the form of political tensions or famine.
The nascent years of this country’s Uhuru became one of the darkest chapters in the country’s history when an estimated 20,000 people lost their lives during the Matabeleland disturbances infamously known as Gukurahundi.
For some families that were affected by the disturbances, the wounds remain fresh and scars are there to see.
President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s government has promised to bring closure on this emotive issue. Time will tell. Fast forward to the 90s, Zimbabwe experienced one of its worst droughts in the country’s history.
On the socio-political front, International Monetary Fund prescriptions in the form of the Economic Structural Adjustment Programme brought misery to many families when the government cut social spending among other measures. Out of this crisis, the Movement of Democratic Change, a new political party formed by labour unions, white commercial farmers, student movements and academia was born.
During this era, former president Robert Mugabe faced one of his greatest challenges when this movement took to the streets during the popular food riots. Opposition politics became an alternative to Mugabe’s reign albeit with state reprisal.
Zimbabwe’s involvement in the Democratic Republic of Congo war and the compensation of veterans who participated in the country’s 1970s liberation war remain some historical beacons that cannot be forgotten. On the upside, the 1990s saw the emergence of the black capitalists as the means of production shifted to the majority.
The late Roger Boka, Strive Masiyiwa and Nigel Chanakira are some of the luminaries of this crusade. The turn of the millennium brought both hope and anxiety. Apocalypse evangelists preached doomsday as the year 2000 beckoned. Companies were warned that their computer systems which were not “Y2K Compliant” would crash.
In one fell swoop, Information Technology became one of the most sought-after professional careers and it continues to be one. Another blemish on the post-2000 period is the drastic drop in the white population when Mugabe made a U-turn on his Independence policy on reconciliation.
Noble as it was, the chaotic and sometimes violent nature of the agrarian reform led to some members of the white community losing their lives while others were maimed.
Zimbabwe international affairs came under the spotlight. Erstwhile allies isolated us and like a hermit, Mugabe faced international isolation. Since then, a lot has happened, most of it sad though.
Now as Zimbabwe battles the Covid-19 that has claimed the lives of three nationals, let’s take stock of what we have done right and wrong as well. As we celebrate 40 years, energies should be directed in fighting the invisible enemy called Coronavirus that has killed over 150,000 across the globe.
Our understanding of global peace and security will never be the same again. Rising above party interest post the pandemic is what Zimbabweans are yearning for with indications that the economy will further contract by 7.5%, according to the International Monetary Fund. Winter is coming