Harare — ZIMBABWEAN opposition parties have boycotted the country's independence celebrations in protest of the deteriorating human rights situation and the collapse of the economy. On Tuesday, the country marked 37 years since independence from Britain. Opposition parties however stayed away from the annual festivities held in Harare arguing the country had nothing to celebrate in the wake of rising poverty, dictatorship, unemployment and human rights abuses blamed on President Robert Mugabe (93) and Zanu-PF, in power since independence. Mugabe's former deputy, Joice Mujuru, now an opposition leader, said 37 years of independence had degenerated into painful years of slavery and misery. "Our people never went to war so that the destiny of our country could be turned into political dynasties. Zimbabweans deserve to be free," said Mujuru. She said her National People's Party was mobilizing other opposition to challenge Mugabe and Zanu-PF in the 2018 election to reverse the slide. "It is our belief that what divides us as opposition political parties is smaller than what binds us," said Mujuru. Morgan Tsvangirayi, leader of the Movement for Democratic Change, said he could not take his family to the independence festivities. "This important national day has been hijacked and pick-pocketed by the ruling elite," said Tsvangirai. "The big day is now mired by cheap sloganeering and excludes other political players from celebrating our sacred struggle against colonialism." Zimbabwe attained independence after a 15-year bush war that claimed the lives of 10 000 combatants against the regime of Ian Smith. At independence, Zimbabwe was among the best-performing economies in Africa but has collapsed after decades of controversial policies. Mugabe blames the west for sabotaging the country. - CAJ News
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