Zimbabwe celebrated its 42nd anniversary on Monday amid tough economic conditions and political tension.
Formerly known as Rhodesia, the country gained independence from Britain as Zimbabwe on 18 April 1980.
This year’s celebration marks the first time the opposition has participated in the event since the disputed presidential elections in 2017.
The opposition Movement for Democratic Change recently splintered, with its former leader, Nelson Chamisa, forming the Coalition for Citizens Change (CCC).
Spokesperson for CCC, Fadzai Mahere, said in a statement, “As a citizens’ movement, we acknowledge the effort and sacrifices of our liberation heroes, war veterans, war collaborators and citizens, living and departed, who contributed to the attainment of the liberation of our nation from colonial rule.
“Whereas there are political differences, there is no debate about honour, respect and acknowledgement of all national institutions, organs, events and programmes. Our loyalty to Zimbabwe and our loyalty to the country is the absolute marker of the preservation of our history, legacy and identity as a people.”
The CCC urged Zimbabweans to bridge the political rift in the country and celebrate the country’s independence peacefully.
“Independence Day belongs to us all as Zimbabwean citizens. For this reason, we encourage all citizens to participate in such important national processes and events without tainting them with partisan conduct.”
Zimbabwe’s tough economic conditions have created a high unemployment rate, driving people out to seek greener pastures in other countries.
The ruling ZANU PF blames sanctions imposed by the West while the opposition blames corruption and economic mismanagement by President Emmerson Mnangagwa and his followers.
“A liberation generation has stayed too long in power,” said political analyst Stephen Chan. “It has fallen behind the demands of the modern world and of the future. Zimbabwe will never rise to the challenges of modernity and achieve its potential.”
Zimbabwe Migrants Support Network chairman Chris Mapingure hailed the celebration.
He told Scrolla.Africa, “This is good for the country to be free and we should strive for the total control of our natural resources to complete the freedom.”
Messages from ordinary Zimbabweans illustrated the divisions in the country. Said Tapfumaneyi Marwodzi, “My humble President Mnangagwa, happy Freedom Day. May you live longer.”
However Bhehe Njomane Nzinda said, “Independence but not free, so nothing to celebrate.”