Lloyd Gumbo Senior Reporter
President Mugabe left Harare for Ghana early this morning to attend sub-Saharan Africa’s first independent country’s 60th uhuru celebrations later today.
Yesterday morning, Vice-Presidents Emmerson Mnangagwa and Phelekezela Mphoko welcomed President Mugabe when he returned home from Singapore where he had gone for a scheduled medical review.
Ghana gained its independence on March 6, 1957 under the leadership of Dr Kwame Nkrumah when he was famously quoted as saying: “The independence of Ghana is meaningless, until it is linked with the total liberation of Africa.”
Foreign Affairs Minister Simbarashe Mumbengegwi told The Herald that President Mugabe was attending the celebrations as a special guest.
“His Excellency, the President, was invited as a special guest and of course you know how we have always had close relations with Ghana as a country and of course, Ghana has that distinction of being the first Sub-Sahara African nation to achieve independence 60 years tomorrow (today),” he said.
“It’s an occasion to commemorate the start of the movement towards independence by the entire African continent. So, His Excellency, the President, decided to accept the invitation as a special guest.”
Presidential spokesperson and Information, Media and Broadcasting Services permanent secretary Mr George Charamba said Ghana was a torch- bearer of African independence.
“For us, Ghana is a symbol of African freedom struggles and independence and by going back to Ghana, His Excellency is associating himself with the politics and persuasion of Ghana in the context of Africa’s struggles for independence,” he said.
“Secondly, the President had a teaching stint in Ghana soon after its independence, so there is an emotional attachment in his return there besides the marital factor.
“Because of the President’s presence in Ghana at that critical time, he became a vector through which Ghana’s pan-African politics and instruments of the struggle were introduced into nationalist politics in the then Rhodesia.”
President Mugabe is on record saying the nationalist movement in the then Rhodesia learnt a lot from Ghana’s independence, including the women’s league concept through the late First Lady, Amai Sally Mugabe.
Mr Charamba also dismissed claims by some quarters who accuse President Mugabe of travelling a lot.
Opposition elements, including the private media, claim the President’s official engaments outside Zimbabwe are a drain on the fiscus.
“They are forgetting their mantra argument where they claim that His Excellency is very ill, yet he has touched down this (yesterday) morning and he is leaving later today to fulfil another State fixture,” said Mr Charamba.
“So, that puts paid to any claims that the President is very ill. In fact, he is so well that he beats even the youngest politicians. Secondly, what they should know is that diplomacy costs. It is a legitimate spending that makes nations states. Diplomacy does not come cheap, especially when it comes from a country of such significance as Ghana.”
Several other foreign Heads of State and Government or their representatives are expected to attend Ghana’s independence celebrations.
These are the first independence celebrations under President Nana Akufo-Ado of the New Patriotic Party (NPP).
The celebrations will be held at Black Square where President Ado was inaugurated recently.
Dr Nkrumah is one of the founding fathers of pan-Africanism.
He is remembered for some of his insightful statements about Africa and its liberation struggle.
Dr Nkrumah famously said, on the occasion of Ghana’s Independence Day,: “Today there is a new African in the world. This African is ready to fight his own battles and manage his own affairs.’
He was one of the founding fathers of the then Organisation of African Unity (now AU), as he advocated a pan-African union as a strong force to counter Western influence.