Thousands of Zimbabweans from all walks of life thronged the National Heroes Acre in Harare and various other shrines throughout the country yesterday to celebrate the lives and sacrifices made by heroes and heroines of the liberation struggle.
President Mnangagwa, who is the Commander-in-Chief of the Zimbabwe Defence Forces, presided over the main event in Harare, while Provincial Affairs Ministers led proceedings in their respective provincess.
In Harare, the event was attended by Vice President Kembo Mohadi, ministers, diplomats accredited to Zimbabwe, religious groups, service chiefs and Zanu-PF supporters.
Harare Mayor Councillor Herbert Gomba also attended.
Members of Johanne Masowe Apostolic sect, who have traditionally attended the event, were also present.
Proceedings started in the morning with thousands of people from different parts of the city and surrounding areas thronging the national shrine.
Terraces at the national shrine were overflowing with people, with others perched on treetops.
The President read his speech before conferring awards to individuals, corporates, multilateral agencies, diplomats and traditional leaders for their efforts in providing assistance to victims of Cyclone Idai.
Zimbabwe National Liberation War Veterans’ Association (ZNLWVA) secretary-general Cde Victor Matemadanda, who is also Defence and War Veterans Affairs Deputy Minister, said: “Independence is precious. We got it through loss of lives, precious young girls and boys, men and women who sacrificed their lives. Once we get it, it must be preserved and protected and this duty is mainly done by the Zimbabwe Defence Forces.”
Zanu-PF Deputy Secretary for the Youth League Cde Lewis Matutu said; “We appreciate and understand what they did for us all and it is because of their efforts and contributions that we enjoy the peaceful environment including opportunities in life.”
In the Midlands, thousands of people thronged the Midlands Provincial Heroes’ Acre in Gweru and other shrines across the province’s seven districts to commemorate the sacrifices made by fallen heroes to liberate the country.
Minister of State for Midlands Provincial Affairs Cde Larry Mavima read President Mnangagwa’s speech.
Proceedings started at 9am, with the National Anthem being sung, followed by solidarity speeches from war veterans, war collaborators and other affiliates.
Minister Mavima assured the province that Government had adequate food in stock to sustain everyone until the next harvest.
Minister Mavima laid a wreath on the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier before touring other graves at the shrine alongside families of heroes and heroines buried there.
Also in attendance was Gweru Mayor Councillor Josiah Makombe.
ZNLWVA Midlands chairperson Cde Virginia Mpaso said Heroes’ Day should serve as a reminder to every citizen for the selfless dedication shown by the country’s gallant sons and daughters who lost their lives fighting for freedom.
In Masvingo, hundreds of people thronged Masvingo Provincial Heroes Acre to join the rest of the nation in celebrating Heroes’ Day.
Pomp and fanfare characterised the main celebrations at the provincial shrine.
Festivities to honour the gallant sons and daughters of the soil who sacrificed their lives for Zimbabwe’s autonomy were also marked across the seven administrative districts of Masvingo.
The main celebrations at Masvingo Provincial Heroes Acre began with drum majorettes and war veterans accompanied by the Zimbabwe National Army band marching from Pangolin suburb to the shrine, drawing cheering crowds by the roadside.
At the provincial Heroes Acre, the crowd was entertained by drum majorettes and traditional dance troupes while waiting for the arrival of Minister of State for the Province, Cde Ezra Chadzamira who presided over the celebrations.
Minister Chadzamira arrived at the shrine and inspected a quarter guard mounted by 4 Infantry Brigade.
He then read the Presidential Speech before leading service chiefs, war veterans provincial chairman, Cde Tendeukai Chinooneka and provincial council member, Retired Major General Gibson Mashingaidze in laying wreaths at the tomb of the Unknown Soldier.
Masvingo mayor Councillor Collins Maboke also joined Minister Chadzamira in the laying of wreaths.
The celebrations continued with the crowd being entertained by drum majorettes and upcoming sungura groups from around the city.
Speaking on the sidelines of the celebrations, Cde Chinooneka said: “We should remain vigilant and use occasions like today (yesterday) to reflect on the sacrifices made by our heroes and heroines to bring majority rule in this country”.
Minister of State in Vice President Kembo Mohadi’s office, Cde Davis Marapira, 4 Infantry Brigade Commander Brigadier General Exobious Tshuma, Masvingo Police Officer Commanding (Propol), Senior Assistant Commissioner Patson Nyabadza, ZPCS Masvingo Officer Commanding Assistant Commissioner Social Ndanga, and other senior Government officials, attended the celebrations.
In Mashonaland West, Provincial Affairs Minister Mary Mliswa-Chikoka led hundreds of residents who thronged the Chinhoyi Provincial Heroes Acre to mark the Heroes Day, a special event which also celebrates the Chinhoyi Seven.
The Chinhoyi Seven is a group of liberation war fighters that sneaked into Rhodesia from Zambia and on April 28, 1966, the fighters were intercepted by Rhodesian Forces in Chinhoyi and the first battle of the Second Chimurenga erupted.
The battle was effectively the first military action against the Ian Smith regime after his infamous and illegal Unilateral Declaration of Independence (UDI) of November 1965.
The seven battled the Rhodesian forces for the whole day until they ran out of ammunition and were all killed.
Minister Mliswa was accompanied by Justice, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs Minister Ziyambi Ziyambi, Local Government, Public Works and National Housing Deputy Minister Jennifer Mhlanga, Chinhoyi mayor Mr Dyke Makumbi, legislators and members of the Provincial Council during the celebrations.
She opened the ceremony by inspecting a Quarter Guard mounted by the 2.3 Brigade Combat Group before proceeding to lead the observation of a minute of silence in honour of the gallant sons and daughters of the country.
The Provincial Affairs Minister also read President Mnangagwa’s speech before meeting families of the 62 heroes and heroines interred at the provincial shrine, among them Cde Simon Chimbetu, Chinhoyi’s first black mayor Cde Edgar Kwenda and Cde Alex “Mujubheki” Nharara.
In Manicaland, hundreds of people thronged the Manicaland Provincial Heroes Acre for the 39th commemorations of Heroes Day.
Minister of State for Manicaland Dr Ellen Gwaradzimba read the Presidential speech.
The event was graced by service chiefs, Zanu-PF provincial leadership, traditional leaders, war veterans as well as families of the 311 liberation war heroes and heroines interred at the shrine.
Entertainment was provided by inmates from the Zimbabwe Prisons and Correctional Services and poems from school children.
The province also held the Heroes Day Sendekera Music Piece competition which saw choirs from six primary schools in Mutare battle it out.
Chisamba Primary School won the competition and walked away with $500 cash prize and a trophy. Zamba Primary School came second.
Hundreds of people from Mashonaland Central’s eight districts yesterrday thronged the provincial Heroes Acre in Bindura for the commemorations.
Minister of State for Mashonaland Central Provincial Affairs Senator Monica Mavhunga led proceedings and read the President’s speech.
Relatives and spouses of late heroes and heroines buried at the provincial shrine came with flowers, a sign of love and remembrance for their loved ones.