Bongani Ndlovu, Chronicle Reporter
PREPARATIONS for the main Independence Day celebrations to be held at Barbourfields Stadium in Bulawayo are ongoing, with the Inter-Ministerial Cabinet Committee on State Occasions set to meet in the city tomorrow.
For the first time since 1980, the main celebrations will be held outside Harare under the theme: “Zimbabwe at 42: Leaving no one behind.”
Independence Day is on April 18, and this year the country celebrates 42 years of freedom and majority rule.
The theme dovetails with the Second Republic’s drive towards promotion of national unity, devolution and decentralisation.
President Mnangagwa will officiate at the proceedings, which will include a football match between fierce rivals Highlanders and Dynamos.
After the football match, members of the public will be treated to a music gala, with performances from various artistes.
Before the main event, President Mnangagwa will host a children’s party at the Zimbabwe International Trade Fair on April 17.
Yesterday, ground staff were busy at Barbourfields Stadium, mowing the lawn inside and outside at the B Arena where the gala is pencilled to be held.
A stage has already been erected at the VIP section by engineers where dignitaries and the main ceremony will be held.
Huge screens will also be erected outside the stadium at the B Arena for people that fail to fit into the stadium to follow proceedings live.
Bulawayo Provincial Affairs and Devolution secretary Mr Paul Nyoni said all was moving according to plan and a meeting with the Cabinet committee is set for this Thursday.
“The Inter-Ministerial Cabinet Committee on State Occasions will be in Bulawayo on Thursday to meet on the progress of the preparations. They will tour the venues to assess the progress there with the local organising committee,” said Mr Nyoni.
Chief director in the Ministry of Youth, Sport, Arts and Recreation Dr Benson Dube said they were finalising the list of artistes that will perform at the Independence Gala.
“I cannot confirm the artistes that will perform because they are still signing contracts with us. Mass displays and the like will be there. We are trying by all means and trying to scout around Bulawayo for artistes that are appealing and crowd pullers. We have a meeting on Thursday with the ministers and we are going to be discussing the finer details,” said Dr Dube.
Bulawayo City Council director of health services Dr Edwin Sibanda said they will test everyone entering the stadium for Covid-19.
“All attendees will be tested, and all Covid-19 protocols will be observed. Vaccination is available at all clinics and central hospitals for free and QR codes on vaccination cards are being activated at the Tower Block,” said Dr Sibanda.
The children’s party, which takes place on Independence Day eve, will be attended by children selected from all the country’s 10 provinces.
Cabinet approved 540 learners selected from primary and secondary schools to attend the event.
Bulawayo was initially scheduled to host the 40th Independence Day celebrations in 2020, but it was postponed after Government declared a National Disaster and enforced a lockdown as part of measures to contain the Covid-19 pandemic.
The celebrations and other public events were cancelled in March of that year as part of measures to contain the spread of the pandemic, which had started claiming lives globally.
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