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33 years: Reflections on progress and development
April 12, 2013
On the 18th
of April 2013, Zimbabwe marks 33 years of independence from white
rule, after decades of a protracted liberation struggle. It is the
selfless sacrifice by the sons and daughters of the soil that brought
about independence. I do honour, such sacrifice. As we reflect the
33 years of ‘self-rule’ we do so fully conscious and
proud of the contributions made by the working class people, students
and the marginalised sectors of our nation for creating and adopting
Charter on the 8th of February 2008. In my notes on 33 years
of Zimbabwe’s independence, I seek to highlight the historical
importance of the Zimbabwe’s people’s charter and its
significance in the present and future of our country in the fight
for and socio-economic and politically just Zimbabwe. The People’s
Charter is the only document in post-colonial Zimbabwe which is
an outcome of popular organisation and consensus which lays bare
a roadmap to a democratic developmental Zimbabwe setting important
milestones for civic and social movements as well as the nation
at large. The document reaffirms the foundational principles of
our struggle for economic, social and political emancipation and
of this historic document, five years ago inspired the struggle
against dictatorship and today are the basis for our demands for
labour rights, economic justice, and an open and democratic public
service. Every significant political statement from the progressive
forces since then has referred back to that momentous declaration.
Over the past five years, we have made great strides forward in
achieving some of the Charter’s demands. Since 2008, we have
been able to challenge the administration of the country, as demanded
in the Charter. Of much significance was how the pro-democratic
forces like the NCA
challenged Article 6 of the GPA
which called for an undemocratic framework on constitutional reform.
It is section 3 of the Charter which unequivocally calls for a people
driven process that is led by an independent commission. An extract
of Section 3 says:
j) The People
shall have a constitutional reform process, which is characterised
by the following:
consultation with the people of Zimbabwe wherein they are guaranteed
freedom of expression and information, association and assembly.
l) The collection of the views of the people and their compilation
into a draft constitution that shall be undertaken by an All-Stakeholders’
Commission composed of representatives of government, parliament,
political parties, civil society, labour, business and the church
with a gender and minority balance.
m) A transparent process of the appointment of the All-Stakeholders’
Commission members as well as their terms of reference.
We did continue
challenging the government on some of its weird, self-enrichment
policies by government at the expense of the poor, the charter is
against such. Indeed, the Charter has guided generations of activists
and democrats in the struggle for a more just society.
But the Peoples
Charter should not be honoured only as an inspiring visionary text.
Equally significant was the manner in which the Peoples Charter
demands emerged. The Charter was the product of many months of grass-roots
campaigning in townships, rural villages, squatter camps and factory
canteens, which culminated into a Peoples Convention in February
2008. It emerged organically out of the struggle and aspirations
of our people. Volunteers fanned out across our country and asked
ordinary Zimbabweans a simple but profound question: “If you
were the government, what would you do?”
As a country,
we have to admit however that we are yet to implement the section
4 of the charter, which declared that the people shall share in
the country's wealth. The national wealth of our country, the heritage
of Zimbabweans, has not yet been restored to the people. The mineral
wealth beneath the soil, the banks and monopoly industry have not
been transferred to the ownership of the people as a whole, as the
Charter required. A small number of giant, mainly the ruling class
companies, and their Asian friends hold sway over our economy.
Workers in particular
have a long struggle ahead to achieve these parts of the Peoples
Charter. While we have been more vocal and relatively forging ahead
on the political and human rights front, we are stagnant or rather
lagging far behind in the battle for economic equity and development.
Zimbabwean patriots and revolutionaries have fought under the banner
of the Peoples Charter. Today, we must take this tradition forward.
The Charter’s far-reaching demands are as relevant today as
in the last few years. It will help us to remain focused on those
important parts of our struggle which we have not yet achieved but
which are vital if we are serious about liberating our people and
transforming their lives. The Charter should be treated as the basis
for challenging an emerging self-enriching landed ruling oligarchy
which has become the key class force for the perpetuation of unequal
class relations. As the most politically conscious and advanced
social force in our revolution, we must remain committed to national
colonial domination in our country has, throughout its history,
employed political and administrative devices to facilitate its
policy of 'divide and rule' by impeding the process of nation formation.
The pre-colonial strategies failed to stem the tendencies towards
the emergence and continued growth of an African national consciousness.
In a similar tone the growing demand for democracy and genuine majority
rule in a united Zimbabwe continues to be met by the diabolically
simple answer that Zimbabwe is democracy and that there is majority
rule which is far from reality. The reality is that there is no
majority rule. There are only minorities, who have presided over
and run down the state in the past 33 years.
we must not allow the regime to get away with its claims to be the
main champion of empowerment for the natives. It is our duty not
only to proclaim, but also to ensure that in a truly democratic
Zimbabwe national resources benefit all as we celebrate the 33 years
of independence, as clearly articulated by the Peoples Charter.
The Charter upholds a vision of social and economic inclusiveness.
The wealth and resources of our country, it says, belong to all
Zimbabweans. Living, as we do, in one of the most unequal societies
in the world, the Charter’s vision of a shared economy, of
common-wealth, remains a deeply pertinent aspiration.
We stand for
one united, democratic Zimbabwe based on universal adult suffrage.
This strategic approach is inviolable. We cannot, at this stage,
allow ourselves to be diverted by speculation about the future engaging
in compromises at the expense of the revolutionary advance. It is
clearly in this struggle that we will succeed in forging emancipation,
development and democracy in our one, Zimbabwean, nation.
sovereign Zimbabwean nation is an integral part of the objectives
of Peoples Charter. It is in these 33 years, that I hope those who
are committed, must consolidate the peoples movement to push for
the realisation of the peoples charter. Independence will not mean
anything until the goals of the Peoples Charter are realised.
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