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Every year when the country moves closer to commemorating its Independence, it has become the norm for the media and people in other social circles to question the value of independence in Zimbabwe.

Just last week, the Zimbabwe Broadcasting Corporation prime time news showed people airing their views on the importance of Zimbabwe’s independence.

While others applauded independence for bringing freedom to the majority, others bemoaned that there was nothing tangible in their lives to show the importance of independence.

Many decried that there was too much suffering among the populace. Among other inauspicious challenges facing the country, they complained that youths have no jobs, the social infrastructure is crumbling, industries are closing down and there is rising corruption in Government and in the private sector.

They cited these challenges as eroding the value of independence.

What is clear is that people are tending to judge the essence of independence on the basis of the country’s economic performance or their personal circumstances.

Zimbabweans appear to think that independence should bring economic, social and political delight. They think it should be the magic wand that takes away their sufferings.

It became clear that the country’s independence is not being judged on its inherent value but on the effects of some day to day vicissitudes of life. As a result, it is important to interrogate the relationship between independence and the performance of the economy in other countries. Has independence in these countries translated into material bliss and the absence of human challenges?

A cursory look at other independent nations worldwide reveals the presence of similar or worse challenges as besetting Zimbabwe. Looking at Western nations, which are globally-admired and presented as flawless “democracies”, it can be shown that they are afflicted by all human challenges.

Despite them being independent, several countries in Europe and America are facing unemployment problems.

The relocation of industries by some global companies from the West to countries with cheap labour like China and Singapore has left a number of westerners without jobs.

At some point (September 2012) Spain and Greece were reported to have a record youth unemployment rate of 56,5 percent and 57,6 percent respectively.

Although the levels of unemployment remain comparatively low, the point still remains that there is unemployment in developed nations.

On the economic front, it is not a secret that several European countries were recently hit by a severe economic crunch that compelled them to plead for bailouts from global financial institutions such as the International Monetary Fund.

Most of these countries were forced to undertake austerity measures in order salvage their countries from the economic decay.

Furthermore, in January 2014, it was revealed by the European Union Home Affairs Commissioner, Cecilia Malmstroem, that there was breathtaking corruption in Europe.

Malmstrom revealed that corruption was costing European countries as much as US$160 billion each year.

On the social infrastructure front, it is worth mentioning that Zimbabwe is not the only independent country facing development challenges. Last year, the South African Minister of Co-operative Governance, Richard Baloyi, said that about 272 995 bucket toilet systems were still used by municipalities in that country. Minister Baloyi noted that in some provinces the bucket system had been formalised and that there were areas where there was not even a record of a toilet in a community.

In Africa, several independent countries are facing various challenges which are manifestly beyond what is being experienced in Zimbabwe.

We read daily of marauding militias indiscriminately raping, maiming and killing people. We also hear of shuddering cases of daily violence and high rates of theft, hijacks and kidnappings perpetrated in broad daylight.

We have reports of religious intolerance and related armed conflicts, where people are killed in the name of religion. We even hear of cases of xenophobia where people are killed or persecuted for being foreigners. Some countries are grappling with threats of terrorism and nuclear arms races. Yet all these challenges do not make any of these countries any less independent.

But when such challenges face Zimbabwe, its people are quick to dismiss the country’s independence as useless. Others even have the temerity to not only rubbish the independence but call for the former liberation fighters to take the country back to the jaws of colonialism.

Difficult lessons from other independent countries should teach us that independence does not necessarily bring paradise on earth. If independence was measured on the basis of material bliss then there would be no independent nation in the world.

Where can you find a nation free from the aforementioned human challenges?

Source : The Herald