April 19, 2005

25th anniversary of independence

A quarter of a century's independence was celebrated at a huge event in Harare with 40.000 specially invited guests. In the sports stadium, President Robert Mugabe delivered a 35-minute, nationally televised speech celebrating his 25 years in office. "To this day we bear the lasting scars of that dark encounter with colonialism often described in the West as civilizing," Mugabe declared, while insisting the "contented" people of Zimbabwe have no need of Western-style democracy. "We have turned east, where the sun rises, and given our back to the West, where the sun sets," he said. "We proclaim our pan-African spirit, stressing we shall never be a colony again." By dismissing his international critics he stressed that Zimbabwe did not need to rely on the West. "We made our own democracy and we owe it to no one, least of all the Europeans," he said. "Let it be forever remembered: it was the bullet that brought the ballot. Our ballots have not needed Anglo-American validation," he said. "They are validated by fellow Africans and friendly countries from the Third World. That is where we get justice, not from Europe, nor indeed from America."
The independence celebrations were attended by the leaders of Namibia and Botswana, the Democratic Republic of Congo and Malawi and the prime ministers of Angola, Mozambique and Lesotho. South Africa, however was represented by only a Cabinet minister and Mugabe did not mention former South African President Nelson Mandela, who has repeatedly criticized Mugabe's human rights record over the past five years. (Rts, The National Post, Canada)

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