Thursday, April 19, 2012

Thousands Attend Independence Day Celebrations in Zimbabwe

Thousands attend Independence Day celebrations

Thursday, 19 April 2012 00:00
Herald Reporters

THOUSANDS of Zimbabweans yesterday put aside their political differences to throng the National Sports Stadium in Harare and various provincial and district centres to mark the 32nd Independence Day celebrations.

The main celebrations were held at the National Sports Stadium in Harare where the leadership of parties in the inclusive Government, diplomats and Zimbabweans from all walks of life converged for the celebrations held under the theme “Indigenisation and Empowerment for Social and Economic Empowerment”.

The theme dovetailed with the Indigenisation and Economic Empowerment programme that makes it mandatory for foreign-owned companies to cede at least 51 percent stake to indigenous Zimbabweans.

Some people could not be accommodated inside the 60 000-seater stadium and had to follow proceedings from outside.

People used varied means of transport to converge at the giant stadium.

The three principals in the inclusive Government — President Mugabe, Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai and Deputy Prime Minister Arthur Mutambara — graced the occasion.

Vice-Presidents Joice Mujuru and John Nkomo were also in attendance along with senior party officials from Zanu-PF and the two MDC formations.

Also present were local service chiefs, army generals from Mozambique, senior army officers from the DRC and diplomats accredited to Harare.

President Mugabe and the First Family received a thunderous applause when they entered the stadium.

People chanted “Gushungo, Gushu-ngo, Gushungo” — the President’s totem.

PM Tsvangirai sneaked into the stadium unnoticed after he used an exit gate instead of the entrance reserved for dignitaries.

The PM is on record saying he was attending the celebrations under pro-test as his party was against the theme on indigenisation and economic em-powerment.

DPM Mutambara supports the indigenisation and empowerment policy.

“What is your legacy as young people?” he asked The Herald during the celebrations.
“It should be around the economy. In 1980, we got political freedom and what is left is todyei (what do we eat)? The minerals and agriculture should help the children of Zimbabwe. It is very narrow and unwarranted to distinguish empowerment and job creation.

“Africans should become owners of the economy. The new companies should create jobs.”

MDC-T opposes indigenisation and empowerment in favour of what it calls, a “jobs policy”.

The attendance of the celebrations by Mozambique Defence Forces army General Pauline Jose Macuringue reminded Zimbabweans of the strong relations between

Harare and Maputo dating back to the days of the liberation struggle.

The presence of senior army officers from the DRC further reflected the close bond between Harare and Kinshasa forged during Operation Sovereign Legitimacy that saw the ZDF repel US-backed Rwandan and Ugandan rebels.

“As you are aware, the liberation of Zimbabwe cannot be told without talking about Mozambique,” said General Constantine Chiwenga.

“We started fighting with Frelimo way back in the 1970s and even when Mozambique got its independence they did not stop supporting us. We brought them here today so that they can see what they struggled to liberate. We fought alongside each other.”

Gen Macuringue echoed the same sentiments.

“The co-operation between Zimbabwe and Mozambique, particularly the guerrilla armed forces started way back. We come a long way,” he said.

Legendary sungura musician Alick Macheso, the Zimbabwe Republic Police and the Zimbabwe Defence Forces entertained the crowd with music and drills.

As President Mugabe lit the independence flame, 32 pigeons symbolising peace were released from their cage into the sky.

In Bulawayo, White City Stadium was filled to capacity as thousands of Zimbabweans thronged the venue for the country’s 32nd independence anniversary.

But the MDC formations were conspicuous by their absence.

The event kicked off in the morning with drum majorettes marching around the suburbs surrounding the venue.

Governor and Resident Minister of Bulawayo, Ambassador Cain Mathema, read President Mugabe’s Independence Day Speech, before a Khami prisoners group took to the stage to perform traditional dances.

Acrobatic displays by the cycle units and races between horses, motor cycles and the all-terrain arctic cats enthralled the crowd as police took the opportunity to invite youths to join the force.

Among the people who attended the celebrations were Zanu-PF Politburo member Dr Sikhanyiso Ndlovu, Zapu leader Dr Dumiso Dabengwa and service chiefs.

In Masvingo province, thousands of people packed Mucheke Stadium for the event.

People started streaming from different directions around 7am, with some walking on foot to the stadium.

Proceedings started just after 8am when drum majorettes and the army band drew hundreds of curious onlookers to the roadside.

Masvingo Governor and Resident Minister Titus Maluleke read the President’s speech.

The three main political parties in the inclusive Government were represented.

In Manicaland province, more than 20 000 people thronged Sakubva Stadium for the celebrations.

The celebrations were lively as people feasted on a bull elephant slaughtered for the event.

There was also a cocktail of entertainment activities.

Manicaland Governor and Resident Minister Cde Christopher Mushohwe read out the President’s speech.

People interviewed said independence celebrations are a national event which must bring Zimbabweans together.

The celebrations in Mashonaland West were attended by more than 5 000 people who thronged Chinhoyi Stadium.

Leading the festivities was Governor and Resident Minister Faber Chidarikire who inspected a four detachment parade mounted by uniformed forces.

He then read the President’s speech.

Deviating from the prepared speech, Cde Chidarikire chronicled the horrendous conditions and treatment local people received at the hands of the settler regime.

Thousands of people in Matabeleland North province thronged Somhlolo Stadium in Lupane to join the rest of the country in celebrating Independence Day.

The events of the day began with a uniformed forces’ procession from Lupane Business Centre to the nearby stadium.

Governor and Resident Minister for Matabeleland North Sithokozile Mathuthu read the President’s speech.

She also inspected a parade by the uniformed forces.

All the three main political parties in the inclusive Government were represented by their members from the Jomic.

In Mashonaland East, the main event was held at Rudhaka Stadium in Marondera, where thousands of people attended.

Mashonaland East Governor and Resident Minister Cde Aeneas Chigwedere read the President’s speech and inspected a guard of honour.

The anniversary was attended by members of the three main political parties.

Entertainment was provided by renowned drummer Douglas Vambe, army drills, police band, traditional dance by school children and several choirs.

The Dombotombo based Lion of Judah Karate Club had the crowd spellbound by their martial arts display.

War veterans held a march into the stadium before they sang a couple of revolutionary songs.

Parks and Wildlife Management Authority of Zimbabwe donated a bull elephant that was slaughtered to feed people at various centres in the province.

In Mashonaland Central province, scores of people thronged Chipadze Stadium to celebrate the 32 years of independence.

Guest of honour Governor and Resident Minister Martin Dinha read the President's speech.

Security forces performed drills to entertain the people.

In Seke, villagers marked the Independence Day in style as each of the district’s 25 wards arranged separate festivities.

The main celebrations were held at Dema Growth Point where assistant district administrator Mr Erick Samunda read President Mugabe’s speech.

The crowd at Dema included some white commercial farmers.

Beatrice white farmer Mr Christopher Hawgood urged every Zimbabwean to respect national days.

“I am a Zimbabwean,” he said. “Independence Day has nothing to do with political or social differences. It has everything to do with celebrating the national heritage and freedom.”

Another white farmer, Mr Joe Goncalves, said independence was important for Zimbabwe.

Hundreds of people from all walks of life in Matabeleland South Province thronged Pelandaba Stadium in Gwanda to celebrate the Independence Day.

Some people came from as far away as Plumtree and Matobo districts.

Governor and Resident Minister Angeline Masuku inspected a guard of honour mounted by uniformed forces before delivering the President’s speech.

The colourful event was punctuated by captivating drills from the security forces.

In Beitbridge, scores of people gathered at Dulibadzimu Stadium for the independence celebrations.

Home Affairs co-Minister Kembo Mohadi led the proceedings and read the President’s speech.

Minister Mohadi commended people from all three political parties in Beitbridge for showing maturity in celebrating independence.

The event was marked by entertainment from schools in the border town, poets, drama clubs and traditional dancers.

In Midlands, the event was led by Governor and Resident Minister Jason Machaya, who read the President’s speech at Mkoba Stadium.

The celebrations brought together all the three parties in the inclusive Government.
Officials from the three main political parties, including MDC leader Professor Welshman Ncube, were inattendance.

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