Today, 18 April, Zimbabwe celebrates 40 years of independence from the United Kingdom. Since 1980, the country has been in transition, in all faculties of life.
Many expected that the country’s economy would grow and there was also hope that the new government would work to establish and enhance human rights and social harmony.
This hope was taken to a higher level by the speech that was made by then Prime Minister-elect, Robert Mugabe, that emphasised reconciliation and working together.
Forty years later, some believe that Zimbabwe is no difference from Rhodesia which was characterised by inequality, discrimination and other ills that triggered the liberation struggle.
We present Mugabe’s speech below.
The following is the text of an address to the nation by the Prime Minister Elect, Mr Robert Mugabe, on radio and television on 4th March 1980.
Greetings in the name of freedom. May I thank you most heartily for your votes and support. I feel overwhelmed as at the same time I feel humbled.
I wish to address you tonight on the significance of the election victory you awarded my Party, ZANU (PF). In doing so, I would like to thank all those who, either by their direct vote as our supporters or by their efficient campaigning as our organisers, have contributed to this favourable result. In addition, may I also thank all officials who participated in the mechanical exercise of handling the elections, without whose organisational and administrative efforts the whole election process would have been a failure.
Soon, a new government will come into being and lead our country to independence. In constituting this government my main concern, and that of my party, is to create an instrument capable of achieving peace and stability as it strives to bring about.progress.
Peace and stability can only be achieved if all of us, first as individuals and secondly as part of the whole Zimbabwean national community, feel a definite sense of individual security on the one hand and have an assurance of national peace and security on the other.
It must be realised, however, that a state of peace and security can only be achieved by our determination, all of us, to be bound by the explicit requirements of peace contained in the Lancaster House Agreement, which express the general desire of the people of Zimbabwe.
In this regard, I wish to assure you that there can never be any return to the state of armed conflict which existed before our commitment to peace and the democratic process of election under the Lancaster House Agreement.
Surely this is now time to beat our swords into ploughshares so we can attend to the problems of developing our economy and our society.
My party recognises the fundamental principle that in constituting a government it is necessary to be guided by the national interest rather than by strictly party considerations.
Accordingly, I am holding consultations with the leader of ZAPU (PF), Comrade Joshua Nkomo, so we can enter into a coalition. What I envisage, however, is a coalition which, in the interests of reconciliation, can include, by co-option, members of other communities whom the Constitution has denied the right of featuring as our candidates by virtue of their being given parliamentary representation. We should certainly work to achieve a national front.
Whatever government I succeed in creating will certainly adhere to the letter and spirit of our Constitution, since that government will itself have been the product of such Constitution.
Only a government that subjects itself to the rule of law has any moral right to demand of its citizens’ obedience to the rule of law.
Our Constitution equally circumscribes the powers of the government by declaring certain civil rights and freedoms as fundamental. We intend to uphold these fundamental rights and freedoms to the full.
Similarly, it is not our intention to interfere with pension rights and other accrued benefits of the civil servants. I may mention here that I have now held discussions wills chiefs of Joint Operations Command, as well as with heads of Ministries, and all of them have given me their assurance of their preparedness to work under my government. I, in turn, have assured them of our concern about their position and the position of the civil servants.
We have assured them that it is not the intention of our government, when it comes into being, to deprive the civil servants of their pension rights and accrued benefits; nor do we want to drive anybody out of this country; nor do we intend to interfere uncon-stitutionally with the property rights of individuals.
I urge you, whether you are black or white, to join me in a new pledge to forget our grim past, forgive others and forget, join hands in a new amity, and together, as Zimbabweans, trample upon racialism, tribalism and regionalism, and work hard to recon-struct and rehabilitate our society as we reinvigorate our economic machinery; The need for peace demands that our forces be integrated as soon as possible so we can emerge with a single national army.
Accordingly, I shall authorise General Walls, working in conjunction with the ZANLA and ZPRA commanders, to preside over the integration process. We shall also happily continue to enjoy the assistance of the British military instructors.
Finally, I wish to assure all the people that my government will strive to bring about meaningful change to their lives. But everyone should exercise patience, for change cannot occur overnight. For now, let us be united in our endeavour to lead the coil/thy to independence. Let us constitute an oneness derived from our common objectives and total commitment to build a great Zimbabwe that will be the pride of all Africa.
Let us deepen our sense of belonging and engender a common interest that knows no race, colour or creed. Let us truly become Zimbabweans with a single loyalty.
Long live our freedom!