Masvingo Province today hosts the 21st February Movement celebrations at the Great Zimbabwe Monuments. The celebrations are coming against the backdrop of suspensions and counter-suspensions within the zanu-pf Masvingo provincial executive that is driving the preparations. This has raised fears the fights might cast a shadow on the celebrations. Our Masvingo Bureau Chief George Maponga (GM) speaks to zanu-pf Masvingo provincial political commissar Cde Jappy Jaboon (JJ) on the state of the province’s preparedness to host the celebrations. Below are the excerpts:
GM: How ready is Masvingo Province to host this year’s 21st February Movement celebrations to be held at the historic Great Zimbabwe Monuments?
JJ: We are very ready, 100 percent prepared to host President Mugabe’s birthday celebrations at the Great Zimbabwe Monuments. The organising team, which I am a member of, has managed to sort out all the things such as accommodation and fuel to ferry all the people wishing to join President Mugabe to celebrate his 92nd birthday anniversary. We have lined up about 54 buses and scores of kombis and small lorries to ferry people and I am happy to say that all these were donated by well-wishers so that we celebrate President Mugabe’s birthday in style. In terms of food we have enough, we have so far slaughtered 30 beasts out of the 54 that were donated together with five tonnes of game meat, it’s all systems go. Water has also been connected at the Great Zimbabwe Monuments to cater for the huge crowd that we are expecting while tents for VVIPs, the President and the First Family, the Vice Presidents and the 21 February Firsters and other high- ranking people such as traditional leaders, Cabinet ministers and Zanu-PF Politburo members are in place. There are also tents and chairs to accommodate over 40 000 people at the venue where we have also installed 100 mobile toilets and connected Wi-Fi for easy internet access. The venue will be under floodlights that have since been installed and we are happy Zesa has assured us of uninterrupted power supplies. We are ready to roll!
GM: How many people are you expecting to attend the celebrations at Great Zimbabwe?
JJ: We are expecting plus or minus 50 000 people to grace President Mugabe’s birthday bash at Great Zimbabwe Monuments and people will start arriving at the venue at 6am on Saturday and by between 10am and 12 noon we expect the crowd to have swelled to about 50 000 people. We have adequate security in place to make sure there are no disturbances at the celebrations in honour of our icon and the founding father of our nation President Mugabe.
GM: What motivated the choice of Great Zimbabwe Monuments to host the 21st February Movement celebrations in Masvingo and what do you think is special about this year’s celebrations?
JJ: Firstly, I think for one to reach 92 years that’s a pure gift from God and we are lucky to have a revolutionary leader who led us through all the epoch-making stages of our history starting long before the birth of modern- day Zimbabwe. We are lucky to have the wisdom of a leader who has travelled such a long journey in life like President Mugabe.
Ninety-two years of age is a milestone that should be celebrated. On the issue of hosting the celebrations at the Great Zimbabwe Monuments, I think it is common cause that the place is historic and has a very central place in the history of our nation just like our President. The Great Zimbabwe Monuments used to be the home of all great kings who founded Zimbabwe and it only befitting to host the President’s celebrations there. The imposing walls at the monuments that formed the defence fortress at the ancient Great Zimbabwe state symbolise the fortitude and strength exuded by President Mugabe in defending his country against imperialist aggression and the scourge of sanctions. The walls at Great Zimbabwe still stand, so does our President and our country today even in the face of hideous illegal sanctions imposed by the West.
GM: Are there any foreign dignitaries who will grace the celebrations at Great Zimbabwe?
JJ: We have many dignitaries from friendly countries that I cannot name save to say that they started arriving in the country yesterday and their accommodation was secured and these are people from countries who truly understand the value of President Mugabe’s leadership to the people of Zimbabwe and felt it necessary to be with us during our happiest hour.
GM: What activities did the province line up to raise the pre-celebrations hype and whet the appetite of the people of Masvingo ahead of this day?
JJ: We held a carnival that started on Thursday where over 3 000 youths, drum majorettes, traditional dance groups, school- children and college students from in and around Masvingo and members of the Zanu-PF Women’s League accompanied by the ZCC Mutendi Brass Band held a street party from Mucheke Stadium to the Civic Centre. The carnival drew hundreds of onlookers who flooded road sides to catch a glimpse of what was happening. We are the first province to hold a street carnival to raise awareness in the run-up to the 21st February Movement celebrations. We also carried out a clean-up exercise yesterday (Friday) starting at Mucheke Stadium to the Civic Centre before hosting a Miss 21st February Movement 2016 beauty contest where 20 beauty queens from all the country’s 10 provinces battled for honours in the evening. The people of Masvingo showed that they are proud to host President Mugabe’s birthday and scores of kombi operators offered us to transport some of our people to the celebrations and all they want from us is fuel and they marketed the celebrations very well by carrying stickers about the celebrations.
GM: Recently there were suspensions and counter-suspensions along factional lines within the Zanu-PF provincial executive in Masvingo. Has this not impinged on the preparations for the 21st February Movement celebrations?
JJ: I must tell you that the majority of our people are united behind the able leadership of President Mugabe here in Masvingo. Yes, of course, it’s unfortunate that we might have one or two leaders who might want to work against the cardinal rule of one centre of power (in President Mugabe) in Zanu-PF but I am happy that there is general agreement that President Mugabe deserves memorable birthday celebrations from the people of Masvingo. There is general unanimity within the Zanu-PF leadership that President Mugabe is the sole centre of power in the party and I am happy that most of the comrades, even those who were suspended, have been actively supporting preparations for the celebrations which is an indication that there is unity of purpose. After all, Masvingo is a reputable “one-party state” which is traditionally known for its unyielding love for the President, so everything is on course for the best ever celebrations in honour of President Mugabe’s birthday.
GM: The MDC-T and other opposition parties have been urging their supporters in Masvingo to disrupt President Mugabe’s birthday bash, what is your take on that?
JJ: There is a general misconception from some uninformed people that the President’s birthday is funded from State resources, that is a big no. President Mugabe’s birthday is bankrolled by donations from his many admirers and well-wishers who appreciate his positive contribution in making Zimbabwe what it is today. After all, the MDC-T is no longer in existence; the party’s is dead and no one will heed (MDC-T leader Mr Morgan) Tsvangirai’s hallucinations. His party has crumbled and no sane person will listen to a man who is notorious for womanising. (Mr) Tsvangirai will be busy womanising while his party is crumbling and only a handful thugs and drunkards will take heed of what he says and not even the most foolish of drunkards will dare disrupt an event where over 50 000 people will be in attendance, that will be daydreaming.
GM: Your message to the people of Zimbabwe on this special occasion?
JJ: The biggest birthday present the people of Zimbabwe, particularly in Zanu-PF, can give our President is by heeding his call during his recent State of the Nation Address where he implored for an end to factionalism and infighting within the party. Zimbabweans should focus on building their nation while those in Zanu-PF should stop bickering in the full knowledge that there is one one centre of power, President Mugabe, and that the highest office is the land, the Presidency, has no vacancy.