ZIMBABWEANS have suffered years of poverty and oppression similar to the Ian Smith era as Zanu PF has since independence in 1980 focused its energies on stifling opposition, Zapu president Dumiso Dabengwa has said.
Dabengwa said a lot that inspired Zimbabweans to take up arms to liberate themselves from the yoke of colonial rule has not been achieved.
“Has the government of Zimbabwe lived up to the ideals of the liberation struggle? If one word is required, the answer would be no. There are achievements, but these are overweighed by the failures and omissions,” Dabengwa said on Tuesday evening at a public debate meeting organised by Bulawayo Agenda and Sapes Trust.
“The effects of political impunity were compounded by increasing corruption, which led to the collapse of institutions, vandalism of medical care, power and other utilities and inability to pay civil servants that help government itself,” he said.
Dabengwa said Zanu PF has been content with consolidating its hold on power for the past 34 years, ignoring the ideals of the liberation struggle that brought independence in 1980.
“No sooner did we take the colonial repressive laws, we had changed them from the Law and Order Maintenance Act to the Public Order and Security Act,” he said.
Dabengwa said Zanu PF had failed to create a socialist State, but rather bred a lot of corruption that saw people getting rich from corrupt tendencies. He said the country maintained a bad human rights record whereby people were not free.
MDC-T Lobengula legislator Samuel Sipepa Nkomo said everyone took part in the liberation struggle, but many were shunned after independence.
“All people in this country participated against the Smith regime. Nationalists who participated and were detained were forgotten. I was detained for 14 years and nine months, more than the Head of State (President Robert Mugabe),” Sipepa Nkomo said.
“After Independence, nationalists who were detained were sidelined and war veterans were put in charge.
“War veterans were registered while detainees were asked to register in a different programme.”
The former Water Resources Development minister said he did not register because he was required to do so as a Zanu PF member. He said he remained in Zapu when Zanu was formed in 1963 and when the Unity Accord was signed in 1987, he opted out telling the late Vice-President Joshua Mqabuko Nkomo that he would never join Zanu as it was a violent party.
Sipepa Nkomo said although the objective of the liberation struggle was one man one vote, people continued to be forced and in Matabeleland killed as they were cajoled to vote for a certain party that they refused to support and still reject.
“Although land was taken from white farmers, it does not belong to Zimbabweans. It was given to war veterans and Zanu PF members,” he said.
Zanu PF politburo member Sikhanyiso Ndlovu said it was funny that Dabengwa belonged to the party after independence and was now singing a different tune.
He said instead of crying over past experiences, Zimbabweans needed to rise and solve problems.
“I will not sit and cry about problems that we failed to solve but rise and solve them,” Ndlovu said.
He said the Lancaster House Constitution was a bottleneck to development because it disallowed the government from redistributing land for the first 10 years after independence and efforts to redistribute land after were frustrated by the “white bench”.
Ndlovu said the government had been able to build State universities in every province of the country and district hospitals and schools. However, Dabengwa fired back saying he was surprised “how some people can come down and glorify chaos”.
“I thought this was a serious discussion on how best we can come out of the chaos we are in today,” the former Zipra intelligence supremo charged.