All roads lead to the Great Zimbabwe Monuments in Masvingo today for the 30th edition of the 21st February Movement celebrations to honour President Mugabe who turned 92 last Sunday.The celebrations have since been renamed 21st February Movement Youth Day.
Established in 1986, the 21st February Movement encourages Zimbabweans, especially youths to emulate President Mugabe’s revolutionary ideas, charismatic leadership and selfless policies.
The President, who is the patron of the movement, will be guest of honour at the event and will give a key note address.
A record 50 000 delegates from all corners of Zimbabwe are expected to convene at the historic monuments, with zanu-pf secretary for Administration, Cde Ignatius Chombo, yesterday praising the Masvingo political leadership for displaying unparalleled team spirit in preparing for the festivities.
Delegates started trooping into Masvingo yesterday, turning the sleepy town into a hive of activity.
Hotels and lodges were fully booked.
The pre-celebrations hype continued to build up in Masvingo yesterday, with schoolchildren and college students carrying out a clean-up campaign across the city.
At the venue, workers were busy putting final touches.
Speaking after touring the venue alongside zanu-pf Masvingo Politburo member Cde Josaya Hungwe, zanu-pf Youth League chairperson Cde Pupurai Togarepi and senior officials from zanu-pf Headquarters, Dr Chombo hailed the Masvingo political leadership for doing a great job.
“I think the 21st February team led by Cde (Pupurai) Togarepi has done a great job and we also need to appreciate the role played by the Masvingo provincial leadership to coordinate all the various players who were involved in the preparatory work. I have had the opportunity to tour the venue of the celebrations and we have never seen something like what we saw here. I have never seen the tentage similar to what I have seen today. During our zanu-pf congresses, we normally put about 15 000 people under one roof, but here we have tentage for 50 000 people. The Masvingo leadership has put 50 000 chairs and that is a record.’’
The zanu-pf secretary for Administration said the Masvingo political leadership led by Cde Hungwe deserved a pat on the back.
“The province (Masvingo) has 50 beasts to feed people who will come to the birthday celebrations and that is a record and people can only do such things when they are united. I am very happy and excited about the preparatory work. I can’t wait for tomorrow (today) and we want to commend the Masvingo political leadership for displaying team spirit.”
Cde Hungwe said Masvingo was ready to receive and look after the 50 000 people.
“These will be the biggest ever celebrations to date and there is excitement all over because the people of Masvingo are eagerly waiting to welcome the President and join him in celebrating his birthday,’’ he said.
“I want to commend the effort of all the people of Masvingo in everything they are doing to prepare for the President’s birthday. Everything that is happening on the ground shows that something will happen and that is President Mugabe’s birthday celebrations,’’ added Cde Hungwe.
He rubbished suggestions that the Masvingo political leadership was divided stressing that the province was united as ever behind the sole one centre of power President Mugabe.
“Those who suggest otherwise are day-dreamers. Everyone can see that there is friendliness and tranquillity, and there is togetherness among the people and the leadership, ahead of tomorrow (today) which is a great day,’’ said Cde Hungwe.
Cde Togarepi told The Herald: “We have prepared a top shelf celebration for the giant of Africa.” He also said that after consultation with President Mugabe, it was agreed that the 21st February Movement be renamed 21st February Movement Youth Day.
This was after the youths initially proposed that the day be declared a public holiday and named Robert Mugabe Day. “After advice from His Excellency the President, it was agreed that the day be named 21st February Movement Youth Day,” said Cde Togarepi.
He said they were proposing other avenues to honour President Mugabe’s splendid work both in the country and in Africa including to have his picture on money. Cde Togarepi said the proposals were being pushed through various Government departments and they were yet to inform the President formally.
The build-up to the festivities continued yesterday with a Miss 21st February Movement beauty pageant pitting 20 beauties from all the country’s 10 provinces fighting it out for the coveted crown last night. An all-night musical gala is also in the offing after the celebrations at the Great Zimbabwe Monuments.