The Herald, April 19, 2008
ZIMBABWEANS yesterday marked 28 years of Independence at various centres throughout the country at festivities punctuated with eulogies, military and police drills, live music performances, mass displays and soccer matches.
The main celebrations were at Gwanzura Stadium in Highfield, Harare where President Mugabe officiated while a delegation comprising largely of youths visited Chimoio in Mozambique to pay tribute to cadres who were massacred by Rhodesian forces during the liberation struggle.
The Gwanzura celebrations began in earnest after Cde Mugabe lit the Independence Flame and the Police Band led the singing of the National Anthem as the Air Force of Zimbabwe jets flew over in the traditional fly-past.
Prior to that, Cde Mugabe inspected the Guard of Honour after which detachments from the country’s security forces forming the guard declared: "Zimbabwe is a sovereign State, we shall defend it with our blood", to the delight of the thousands in attendance.
Some of people in the crowd held up banners with messages such as "Zimbabwe has no place for sell-outs" and "Independence and Sovereignty for all times."
However, the voice of Cde Simbaneuta Mudarikwa — who had performed the duty of master of ceremony at independence celebrations since 1980 — was the only missing part.
Cde Mudarikwa was recently elected Member of the House of Assembly for Uzumba and has since been replaced as master of ceremony.
The crowds were kept entertained by mass displays staged by about 1 000 schoolchildren, the police, the army’s Parachute and Commando regiments and the Airforce of Zimbabwe Traditional Dance Troupe.
Sulumane Chimbetu and the Orchestra Dendera Kings, among others, provided musical entertainment.
In his remarks introducing President Mugabe, the chairman of the independence celebrations organising committee Cde Ignatius Chombo said Zimbabweans should remember that the country’s independence did not come on a silver platter and should be guarded jealously.
Cde Chombo, the Minister of Local Government, Public Works and Urban Development, said it was imperative to keep alive the memory of the bruising struggle that led to democracy.
"The venue where we are gathered is significant for a number of reasons. Gwanzura Stadium is adjacent to Zimbabwe Grounds, which we all know was the place where Cde Mugabe made his historic speech in 1980.
"Furthermore, this place is walking distance from Cde Mugabe’s home in New Canaan and so by all means this is what can be called the cradle of our liberation," said Cde Chombo.
"It is imperative to rekindle the memory of the protracted and bruising struggle that brought independence and ushered in democracy. Independence did not come on a silver platter. Many people were massacred by the cowardly Rhodesian regime and the loss of all this blood should not be in vain. We laud the determination of our heroes and admire their courage and pluck.
"Our leader, His Excellency Cde Mugabe spent 11 years in jail and many more at the forefront of the liberation struggle with other luminaries like Cde Chitepo, Cde Joshua Nkomo and Cde Muzenda among others.
"Cde Mugabe’s tenacious defence of the dignity of the people of this land and 28 years later he is still standing strong in defending our heritage."
Among the dignitaries in attendance were Government ministers, service chiefs, diplomatic, senior civil servants, Zanu-PF Politburo and Central Committee members and judges of the Supreme and High Courts.
In Chomoio, Mozambique Zanu-PF Women’s League Secretary Cde Oppah Muchinguri urged youths to remain patriotic and remember that Zimbabwe’s independence came through bloodshed and should be jealously safeguarded.
She was addressing about 800 delegates mostly youths, who were visiting the former liberation war camp in Chimoio where at least 2 000 men, women and children who perished while on a mission to free Zimbabwe were buried.
The visit was part of the independence commemorations.
"We want to leave the heritage to you the youth our future leaders but you have to be guided. You should not forget where you came from and you should always remember that thousands of gallant sons and daughters perished at Chimoio fighting for the independence of the country," Cde Muchinguri said.
Zanu-PF Youth League deputy secretary Cde Saviour Kasukuwere said youths should not take independence for granted but jealously guard against re-colonisation.
A sombre atmosphere engulfed the former liberation war camp as some of the delegates broke down after touching narrations by surviving cadres of the Chimoio bombing of November 1977 by Rhodesian forces.
In Bulawayo, scores of residents gathered at White City stadium to commemorate Zimbabwe’s Uhuru.
Bulawayo Metropolitan Province Governor Cde Cain Mathema, first inspected a guard of honour before he read President Mugabe’s speech.
The celebrations started in the morning with a parade of soldiers, policemen and prison officers accompanied by drum majorettes which marched from the intersection of Luveve Road and Nketa Drive turning into Hyde Park Road before moving to the White City Stadium where Cde Mathema inspected a guard of honour.
The entertainment menu included drills by drum majorettes, performances by traditional music and dance groups and the famous Light Machine Gun choir.
The Minister of Information and Publicity, Dr Sikhanyiso Ndlovu, the Bulawayo Zanu-PF Provincial Chairman, Cde Macloud Tshawe, Politburo and Central Committee members, service chiefs from the province and Government departmental heads attended the commemorations.
Also in attendance was former Politburo member Dumiso Dabengwa, who was among the dignitaries on the high table.
Dabengwa left the ruling party after he lent his support to independent presidential candidate Simba Makoni — also a former Politburo member — just before last month’s elections.
In Umguza, hundreds of people thronged Nyamandlovu Primary School to celebrate the country’s independence from colonial bondage.
The Minister of Industry and International Trade, Cde Obert Mpofu, who was also re-elected as the House of Assembly representative for the constituency during the March 29 harmonised polls, was the guest of honour.
Cde Mpofu read President Mugabe’s speech which was well received by the people, most of them newly resettled farmers from the constituency which was predominantly a white commercial farming area before the land reform exercise to correct the racially skewed land ownership imbalances, which were a legacy of the colonial era.
War veterans toyi-toyied and performed various drills.
This year’s celebrations in the Midlands were held at the traditional venue, Mkoba Stadium in Gweru.
Midlands Governor, Cde Cephas Msipa, newly-elected Mberengwa Senator and Zanu-PF Politburo member, Cde Richard Hove, and the provincial service chiefs started arriving at 9:45am.
Cde Msipa inspected the guard of honour before reading President Mugabe’s speech at 11am.
Before reading the President’s speech, Cde Msipa thanked the people for attending the celebrations and urged them to always remember the importance of commemorating the anniversary.
"Many people sacrificed their lives for us to enjoy the independence, we have today. A lot happened, we had orphans, widows and the maimed that came out of the protracted war for the liberation of the country. That is why, I always say we should cherish this day (independence anniversary) in honour of the gallant sons and daughters of the country, who perished during the liberation struggle,’’ he said.
After the formal proceedings, the public was treated to entertainment from the army with its helicopter displays and the police weighed in with its dog displays.
In Lupane, thousands of people braved the scorching heat to attend the Matabeleland North provincial independence celebrations at Somhlolo Stadium.
People began gathering at 10am but the official proceedings only started at midday.
Matabeleland North Governor Cde Sithokozile Mathuthu inspected the guard of honour, which was mounted by four detachments from the ZNA, Police and Prison Services.
She read the President’s speech and thereafter the public was treated to drill displays by the security forces.
In Masvingo, people thronged Mucheke Stadium to commemorate Independence Day.
Proceedings to mark the day began in the morning with detachments from the Zimbabwe National Army, Prison Service and the Zimbabwe Republic Police marching from Chikato Police Station to the stadium.
Drum majorettes marched in unison with the uniformed forces.
At the stadium, Masvingo Governor Cde Willard Chiwewe first inspected a guard of honour mounted by the security forces.
After the inspection Cde Chiwewe read President Mugabe’s speech.
Thereafter the security forces entertained the crowd with their drills.
The celebrations continued until late afternoon.
Celebrations were also held in all Masvingo’s seven administrative districts.
In attendance at Mucheke were top Government and Zanu-PF officials among them party provincial chairman Retired Major Alex Mudavanhu, his deputy Cde Clifford Mumbengegwi, provincial war veterans’ leader Cde Isiah Muzenda, Masvingo South Member of the House of Assembly Cde Walter Mzembi, Zimbabwe Council of Chiefs president Chief Fortune Charumbira and service chiefs.
In Beitbridge, scores of people gathered at Zimbabwe Prisons Grounds to celebrate independence.
The army, the police dog section, drum majorettes, and schoolchildren who recited poems, traditional dance groups, entertained the crowd.
Home Affairs Minister Cde Kembo Mohadi read President Mugabe’s speech.
Addressing the same gathering Senator for Beitridge Cde Tambudzani Mohadi urged people to maintain a unity of purpose and complement the Government in its efforts to revive the country’s economy.
"As Zimbabweans we need to join hands and complement the efforts being made by the Government to address the economic challenges the country is facing", She said.
The main celebrations in Mashonaland Central were held at Chipadze Stadium in Bindura where people were treated to various forms of entertainment.
Mashonaland Central Governor Cde Ephraim Masawi inspected a guard of honour before reading the President’s speech.
Bindura residents interviewed by The Herald said they cherished the freedom fought for by gallant cadres.
Rudhaka Stadium in Marondera was the venue of the main celebrations in Mashonaland East province.
The crowd was treated to spectacular military and police displays and perfomances by poets and choirs.
Mashonaland East Provincial Governor Cde Ray Kaukonde read President Mugabe’s speech after reminding Zimbabweans that the independence they enjoy today was a result of a protracted liberation war.
"Many people are now selling out as they forget the bitter armed struggle that was fought. Ngatisakanganwe chezuro nekuda kwehope. We should defend our land and resources," said Cde Kaukonde.
He said Government prioritises the welfare of civil servants and in Marondera it facilitated the building of 143 houses by the National Social Security Authority in Rusike high density area.
In attendance were Marondera East Member of the House of Assembly Cde Tracy Mutinhiri, Mashonaland East provincial administrator Mr Cuthbert Ndarukwa and service chiefs.
Matabeleland South Provincial Governor, Cde Angeline Masuku paid tribute to people in the province for rallying behind Zanu-PF and President Mugabe in the 29 March harmonised elections.
Addressing people gathered at Pelandaba Stadium in Gwanda to mark the country’s 28th Independence Anniversary, she said support for the ruling party in the province had dampened the country’s detractors.
Cde Masuku said by voting for President Mugabe they had showed that they still had confidence in his leadership.
She said the President had a track record in politics dating back to the days of the liberation struggle, which brought Independence on 18 April 1980, and thus had proven leadership qualities.
"I thank you for voting for ubaba uMugabe, which really shows that we still like his leadership role. That is a positive thing indeed," said Cde Masuku.
ZEC is yet to pronounce the winner of the presidential election since the results are still going through the collation and a verification process as well as the intended recount today.
Cde Masuku said although the Zanu-PF Government had made mistakes, significant strides had been made in developing the country, since the attainment of Independence from the colonial bondage of the British-exactly 28 years ago.