Zimbabwe will Wednesday celebrate the 32nd anniversary of its independence from Britain, but the wrangling on the eve of the fete has once again exposed a country mired in divisions.
Zanu PF ministers crafted the theme; Indigenisation and Economic Empowerment for Economic transformation, to extol its push to grab foreign-owned companies.
But the move has irked its coalition partners, who have declared they would attend the national celebrations to be addressed by President Mugabe under protest.
“I wish to state that we had a discussion in Cabinet last week about the proposed theme for this year,” Mr Tsvangirai told journalists in Harare.
“We rejected it because we find this a repugnant theme, which sounds more of a slogan for a political party than an inclusive, peace-building theme, which should be determined through consensus.
“There was no consensus on the current theme. While we support broad-based empowerment of the ordinary person, our colleagues have taken indigenisation to mean expropriation and nationalisation,” he added.
“There is no such policy of government. Our problem is not about the day, but the theme of this day.”
President Mugabe says the policy to force foreign-owned companies to hand over 51 per cent of their shareholding to locals was part of efforts to reverse colonial imbalances.
His critics, however, say the policy would only benefit the 88-year-old leader’s cronies who also helped themselves to white-owned farms during the chaotic land reform programme.
Mr Tsvangirai said Zimbabweans needed to be unified ahead of elections President Mugabe wanted held this year.
“A more unifying theme, which captures the national sentiment at this time, would have been more appropriate,” he said.
The Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) leader’s supporters in the past have boycotted national events, accusing Zanu-PF of privatising them.
President Mugabe accuses the MDC of being puppets of his Western enemies, who do not subscribe to Zimbabwean values.
President Mugabe has been at the helm since Zimbabwe’s independence in 1980 and critics say he had destroyed the promise once shown by the southern African country.
Source: Africa Review