Zimbabwe turns 34
Hebert Zharare and Lloyd Gumbo
Queen Elizabeth II of the United Kingdom and US president Barack Obama yesterday congratulated Zimbabwe on the occasion to mark its 34th Independence Day today as hundreds of thousands of Zimbabweans from all walks of life gather at various centres across the country to commemorate the event.
In a statement sent through the British Embassy in Harare yesterday, Queen Elizabeth II wished the country happiness and prosperity.
“It gives me great pleasure to send the people of Zimbabwe my congratulations on the celebration of your National Day, together with my best wishes for your happiness and prosperity in the coming year,” she said.
The Queen sends congratulatory messages to Zimbabwe every year.
Quoted in online newspapers Mr Obama said: “The United States remains committed to the people of Zimbabwe and will continue to support them as they work to build a society that responds to their needs and honours their democratic choices. May the coming year bring progress toward a healthy and prosperous Zimbabwe.”
The main independence celebrations would be in Harare at the National Sports Stadium where President Mugabe will address the nation.
Ministers of State for Provincial Affairs in the other nine provinces will deliver President Mugabe’s speech at provincial celebrations while district administrators will do so at district level with some wards also gathering to commemorate the event.
This year’s celebrations will be held under the theme: “Zimbabwe @34: Defending Our Sovereignty and Providing an Enabling Environment for Sustainable Economic Empowerment and Social Transformation.”
Chairman of the Independence Organising task force, who is also Local Government, Public Works and National Housing Minister Ignatius Chombo yesterday, said all was set for the celebrations.
“Our teams are busy putting final touches on the preparations as we speak,” he said.
“The Ministry of Information, Media and Broadcasting Services is putting in place a PA system that should be able to get everyone in and around the stadium to hear clearly.
“The place has been spruced up, repainted and it’s looking ready for the big bash tomorrow (today). We have three huge generators on standby just in case Zesa acts up. We also have engineers from Zesa who are on standby just in case something occurs.”
He said sungura ace, Alick Macheso and Suluman Chimbetu among other popular artistes would entertain the anticipated bumper crowd at the National Stadium.
Minister Chombo urged Zimbabweans from all walks of life to attend the celebrations throughout the country as a way of honouring and respecting gallant sons and daughters who sacrificed their lives so that the country would be independent.
During the Inclusive Government era, no-one would attend the celebrations wearing party regalia.
But Minister Chombo said this year people would be allowed to dress decently as long as it did not offend others.
Provincial Ministers of State who spoke to The Herald yesterday said it was all systems go for the celebrations that will be marked by entertainment and food for everyone who will attend at provincial, district and ward levels.
“In Mashonaland East province we have managed to get 700 beasts and 1 000 goats that will be slaughtered for the celebrations throughout the province,” said Provincial Minister of State, Simbaneuta Mudarikwa.
Bulawayo Minister of State, Eunice Sandi-Moyo said the celebrations would be preceded by the Charity Ball to raise funds for the underprivileged.
“Buses are going to be picking up people taking them to White City Stadium where we have the celebrations.
“Logistics for the commemorations are already in place. People from other political parties have indicated that they also want to attend and our message is that every Zimbabwean is welcome because these celebrations have nothing to do with political party affiliation,” said Minister Sandi-Moyo.
Mashonaland West Minister of State, Faber Chidarikire, said everything was in place.
“Our teams throughout the province have assured me that everything is in place. We are now waiting for the day. We have a number of activities lined up like entertainment. The main celebrations will be held at Chinhoyi Stadium,” he said.
His Midlands counterpart, Minister Jason Machaya, said the main celebrations would be held at Mkoba Stadium while districts and some wards would also host the celebrations.
“We expect an eventful day throughout the province because everything is in place. We will have celebrations from the village up to the provincial level,” said Minister Machaya.
Matabeleland North Minister of State, Cain Mathema, said the province was ready for the commemorations where the main celebrations would be held at Somhlolo Stadium in Lupane.
Meanwhile, MDC-T yesterday congratulated Zimbabwe on attaining 34 years of independence.
“There was death on the two occasions by both our Lord Jesus Christ and the sons and daughters of Zimbabwe for us to attain both our human and spiritual freedom.
“Not only are we cherishing the work of our sons and daughters who lost life and limb so that the whims of future generations could walk again in Zimbabwe, but we also glorify Jesus Christ this Easter holiday for having died so that the entirety of human-kind could have eternal life.
“As Zimbabweans, we respect Independence Day, a day when we undid a century of racism, exploitation and oppression in the country of our birth.
“Through a protracted armed liberation struggle, we brought about our independence and hoisted a new national flag,” said the party in a statement.