The National Sports Stadium in Harare, where the main Independence Day celebrations will be held, has been primed to play host to multitudes who are expected to converge to commemorate the 38th anniversary of self-rule, which political analysts say is even more relevant under the new political administration.
The military launched Operation Restore Legacy in November last year to correct a deteriorating social, economic and political environment, which forced the resignation of former President Robert Mugabe.
Minister of State for Harare Provincial Affairs Mrs Miriam Chikukwa yesterday urged Zimbabweans across the political divide to attend the celebrations, which run under the theme “Zimbabwe at 38: Social Economic Restoration and International Re-engagement”.
“We have secured 30 buses to ferry people to and from the venue of the celebrations in Harare, while Bulawayo will have five buses. All other provinces will have a bus each. Buses will pick up people from their usual pick-up points to and from the venue of the event from as early as 6am,” said Minister Chikukwa.
“Gates will also open at the same time and entertainment has been lined up as we wait for the arrival of the guest of honour,” she said.
Zimbabwe’s national soccer team will play Botswana for the Uhuru Trophy.
Similar celebrations are taking place countrywide.
In Mashonaland West Province, provincial administrator Mrs Cecilia Chitiyo said the celebrations will be held at Chinhoyi Stadium.
After listening to the President’s speech, attendees will be treated to traditional dance before an Independence Trophy soccer match between Chinhoyi Stars Football Club and Chegutu Stars.
There will also be a netball match between Jaguar Queens and Chinhoyi Queens.
In Mashonaland Central Province, the main celebrations will be held at Chipadze Stadium.
Speaking after touring the venue, provincial administrator Mr Cosmas Chiringa said they will be hosting visitors from Mozambique for the event.
“This is a great occasion for us and we are happy that our visitors from Mozambique are already in the country and will be with us for the main celebrations.
“This is our first independence in the new political dispensation and we urge people to throng to Chipadze Stadium and other district venues in their thousands,” said Mr Chiringa.
He also thanked individuals and companies who donated towards the event.
Students from various institutions in Mashonaland Central yesterday received a public lecture at Bindura University of Science Education.
War veterans in Mashonaland East said people should use this year’s commemorations to reminisce over Operation Restore Legacy.
The province’s war veterans chairperson Cde Daniel Sigauke said this year’s celebrations could mark a major turning point for the country as the new President Cde Mnangagwa pursued economic prosperity.
“Following the success of Operation Restore Legacy last year, the country has transformed in all spheres.
“Politically, the environment is peaceful and our leaders are preaching the mantra of unity. As we head for elections, the message has been clear from the onset, we want free and fair elections,” said Cde Sigauke.
“Zimbabwe is open for business with every country on the globe. Look at the strides that the administration has made to lure investors. We are talking about billions of dollars earmarked for the country’s development,” he said.
In Masvingo, the main celebrations will be at Mucheke Stadium.
Provincial administrator Mr Mr Fungai Mbetsa said Masvingo could not wait for the big day.
He said the occasion would be bigger and better, driven by the hope people have in the new dispensation.
“This year’s independence celebrations will be like the one in 1980 when we conquered the oppressors. We expect the stadium to be a full house. If you are in Masvingo and not found at Mucheke today, I do not think you will have any other day when you will be happy because this is day that God chose for the people of Zimbabwe,” said Mr Mbetsa.
In the Midlands, provincial information officer Mr Edwill Moyo, who was part of the committee overseeing preparations, said they expected 20 000 people to attend the event.
“It’s like we are under a new Zimbabwe with a new leadership and the preparations have raised a lot of excitement,” said Mr Moyo.
“In November last year, the country was ushered into a new dispensation and we are celebrating a new Zimbabwe again,” he said.
It was the same in Manicaland province, where provincial administrator Mr Edgars Seenza said they would host the governor of Mozambique’s Manica Province Cde Cde Alberto Ricardo Mondlane.
“We cannot talk of Zimbabwe’s independence without mentioning the role played by our eastern neighbours. Mozambique played an essential role in the liberation struggle that gave birth to Zimbabwe’s independence,” he said.
Today’s celebrations were preceded by a pre-independence art exhibition held at the National Arts Gallery in Mutare last week, as well as a music gala that was held last night (Tuesday) at the Mutare Agricultural Showgrounds.
In Matabeleland South, the main independence commemorations will be held at Pelandaba Stadium in Gwanda, where the Minister of State for Provincial Affairs, Cde Abednico Ncube, will lead the event.
Cde Ncube said they had covered a lot of ground in terms of preparations and that they were expecting a huge crowd.
“All has been set and we call on people to gather at all the identified venues as we celebrate the country’s 38th independence anniversary under a new political dispensation led by President Mnangagwa,” he said.