Tsvangirai Played Second Fiddle At Celebrations

Three decades after independence, Zimbabweans are still crying out for real freedom – human rights are still being violated with impunity, unemployment is hovering around 90 percent, preventable diseases are killing thousands, people are dying of hunger, poverty has worsened and corruption among top government officials is still rampant.

Zimbabweans are saying yes we have achieved independence but where is the freedom and justice we fought for?

 Like he has done for the past 30 years in which he has been ruler of Zimbabwe, President Robert Mugabe, monopolised Independence celebrations as he was the main speaker. Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai, a long time rival of the 86-year-old leader, but now in government played, no official role. He was seen chatting away with other senior government officials.

 There were reports during the week that Mugabe and Tsvangirai had argued over the role the Prime Minister would play on Independence Day.

MDC officials had advocated for boycotting the celebrations but Tsvangirai whipped them into line and ordered them to attend the event at the National Sports Stadium.

For the observers everything looked rosy between Mugabe and Tsvangirai but those in the know, said the two were just working together for convenience otherwise rifts still exist.

 Tsvangirai spent most of his time talking to Vice-presidents John Nkomo and at times Joice Mujuru.

 However, each time Tsvangirai’s picture appeared on the big screen in the stadium or his name was mentioned, the huge crowd roared in approval. This did not deter Mugabe as he went on to give one of his most sober speeches in a long time where he preached peace and tolerance.

Mugabe promised the crowd a better future, he gave them hope for a better life and gave them hope that a new constitution will be in place soon.

While acknowledging that Zimbabwe has been and is facing problems, he mostly decided to dwell on the positives.

But the generality of the population is still not convinced that this is the Zimbabwe they want. They are still pondering on when they will reach the promised land.

 In Zimbabwe, most people have no voice due to the fact that media space is limited.
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The Zimbabwe Peace Project (ZPP), which is headed by Jestina Mukoko, who was arrested and tortured for defending human rights, doubts the relevance of independence when violations are still rampant.

“The previous years were marred by violations which included murder, torture, assaults, sexual abuses, harassment and intimidation, abductions, disappearances, arbitrary arrests, and unlawful detentions, displacements, and evictions in all the provinces of Zimbabwe.

“Many Zimbabweans were maimed, arrested, displaced and lost their lives mostly during election periods, mainly for claiming their freedom to associate, choose and assemble,” said ZPP in a statement.

Justice for Children Trust says while things were better soon after independence – the situation is now a disaster 30 years on.

“Despite the existence of both international and domestic laws, little has been done in the last 10 years to fully promote and protect children’s rights. The State’s failure to enshrine children’s human rights in the constitution has further compromised the respect, promotion and protection of children’s rights.

“Since the year 2000, Zimbabwe has experienced a myriad of challenges which worsened the vulnerability of children. The health care and delivery system has rapidly crumbled. Children are at the midst of the crisis as they are victims of HIV and AIDS, high child mortality rates, cholera and measles.

“Many children with HIV and AIDS require constant supply of medication which is expensive and inaccessible to those in remote areas,” says Justice for Children Trust.