By Eunice Masunungure
IT is crucial to recall the hope that carried Zimbabwe through the protracted war for independence and apply it to the struggle against the COVID-19 pandemic.
All seemed unending when the war of independence raged on.
However, a new era was birthed with independence in 1980.
The tearful faces broke into smiles.
The sad hearts were relieved.
The hope that kept alive the liberation struggle, the fighting spirit and commitment bore tangible results.
President Emmerson Mnangagwa, in his video address on the occasion of the 40th Independence Day commemorations for Zimbabwe’s freedom said:
“Fellow Zimbabweans; 40 years after independence, let us remain hopeful and steadfast in spirit.
Vision 2030 is alive and beyond COVID-19, its accomplishment must be accelerated.”
Independence entails being free to control one’s natural resources, to own land and be master of one’s destiny, but we are now captive to COVID-19 which has oppressed human bodies and minds as well as cut life short.
The 40th independence celebrations were supposed to mark a fresh start and new hope in the hearts of Zimbabweans.
COVID-19 has aborted celebrations of the crucial moments of our lives.
This disease has sucked life from many and resulted in bans of events like weddings, parties and gatherings beyond family.
However, the bans are for our common good.
COVID-19 challenges must not be allowed to dampen Zimbabwean spirits.
President Mnangagwa said:
“Forty years ago, we became a self-governing people after nearly a century of settler-colonial rule; a sovereign nation born out of protracted armed struggle.
As we celebrate this important milestone in our history, let us not forget those who started the journey, the thousands of gallant freedom fighters who lost limbs.
All of them made sacrifices so that we can today stand tall, as masters of our own destiny; a free people in our own land.
May our children and grandchildren always enjoy freedom, while defending their rich cultural heritage and working hard, in unity, for an ever prosperous future.”
There is need to understand that normalcy will return, just like independence was achieved.
The whole world has been forced to focus on one term, COVID-19 but there is also need to look ahead.
For instance, as Zimbabwe soldiers on, its people ought to safeguard the hard-won freedom from the Ian Smith regime and neo-colonialism.
Zimbabweans must hold onto the bedrock of struggle that says tough times do not last but tough people do.
There is need to instill in our children a sense of belonging and Zimbabwean pride emanating from our heritage.
Always, we must be mindful of freedom, peace, unity of purpose and oneness.
It is crucial to remain committed to policies and opportunities of bettering the country’s economy.
COVID-19 is just another impediment in the path of national development.
Zimbabwe has been through many painful experiences and the national progress has been deterred by many things, including sanctions, but that has not broken the country.
President Mnangagwa said:
“Our situation is compounded by the continuing illegal economic sanctions, which we have endured for close to half of our years of independence.
These sanctions have limited our options and constricted our possibilities of freely interacting in the global economy.
I thank the European Union for softening its stance towards us.
I implore Washington to promptly lift these illegal sanctions against us without any preconditions.
They are illegal and hurtful to our people; Zimbabwe does not deserve them.”
Obstacles are there to be surmounted and not to obliterate hope.
COVID-19 has no power to stop a patriot from saying Aluta Continua!
“Independence is about determining our own fate and choosing to take our destiny into our hands. We are now a 40-year-old democracy; a mature nation,” said President Mnangagwa.
“As we begin this important ‘Decade of Action’, may we never lose focus on the bigger vision; to develop and modernise Zimbabwe towards an upper middle-income economy by 2030.”