Nqobile Tshili Bulawayo Bureau
President Mnangagwa says Zimbabwe is moving towards being a beacon of democracy on the continent where citizens can enjoy their freedoms without fear of being victimised. In his Africa Day message yesterday, the President said every Zimbabwean’s views were welcome in the country as it was free from colonial bondage and dictatorship.
“As we celebrate Africa Day, let us recognise the freedoms we now possess. Freedoms which were once stolen from an entire continent by colonial powers and dictatorial leaders. Freedoms which we have regained through great toil and much suffering,” said President Mnangagwa.
“Let us stand together on this Africa Day and share this message to the world that Africa is moving forward. And as our continent progresses, the new Zimbabwe will be an example to all; a shining light of hope, and a beacon of freedom.”
Africa yesterday commemorated the 55th Anniversary of the OAU which became the African Union (AU) in 2001.
President Mnangagwa said his Government would deliver a free and fair election to prove Zimbabweans’ commitment to democracy and respect for the will of the people.
“In this new Zimbabwe, we commit to delivering free and fair elections before the eyes of the world, and we have invited scores of observers to witness Zimbabwean democracy in action,” he said.
The country is expected to hold harmonised elections between July, 21 and August 21 with Zanu-PF saying it will respect the will of the people.
President Mnangagwa said under his administration, citizens should enjoy freedoms of expression, the Press, religion, speech and assembly.
His message came as African Union Commission chairman Moussa Faki Mahamat, in an Africa Day message, yesterday challenged continental leaders to fight corruption which he said has adverse effects on ordinary people.
Mr Mahamat said due to corruption, Africa was failing to deliver services to its people.
“Central to the work ahead is the fight against corruption in all its forms. Corruption destroys the lives of ordinary people and undermines their trust in their leaders and public institutions,” said Mr Mahamat.
“Resources that are needed for development and the delivery of services — such as electricity, education, healthcare, sanitation and clean water — are diverted by a few, thus depriving the majority of the people of access to these critical services.”
He said African leaders should commit to the pledge they made to fight the vice with the continent having set July 11 as the annual African Anti-Corruption Day.
Mr Mahamat said the continent should work towards improving its economies through the judicious use of our natural resources and industrialisation.
He said Africans across the globe should celebrate their diversity while promoting peace and development.
“As we celebrate Africa Day, let us, as African women and men, youth and old, in the continent and the African Diaspora, rededicate ourselves to the realisation of the AU vision of an integrated, prosperous and peaceful Africa, driven by its own citizens and representing a dynamic force in the international arena,” he said.
Meanwhile, Sadc challenged Africans to immortalise the vision of the its founding fathers of liberating the continent.
Sadc executive secretary Dr Stergomena Lawrence Tax said the continent’s founding fathers fought against exploitation.
“Africa’s founding fathers deserve great commendation for leading the rest of the world in the fight against colonialism by among others establishing the Organisation of African Union (OAU),” said Dr Tax.
“Their initiative and determination gave impetus to the establishment of majority rule in states throughout the African continent, freeing millions of people from racial oppression, economic exploitation and political exclusion and brought hope to many.”
Dr Tax said the continent should work towards immortalising the works of the founding fathers.
“In this regard, Sadc calls upon all Africans to spare no effort in immortalising the memory of the founders of our post-independence states who sacrificed the economic freedoms of their countries to ensure that the rest of the region achieved political independence by more than ever, ensuring that the foundation pillars of their struggle are sustained and we are able to deliver politically, and economically, beyond what was initially expected for posterity and ensure that our region remains a reference point for regional cooperation, integration and prosperity,” said Dr Tax.
She said Sadc is in the process of developing a mechanism to honour the founders of the regional bloc.