Patrick Chitumba, Midlands Bureau Chief
Gweru, previously known as iKwelo “The Steep Place” by the Ndebele people, witnessed a special occasion yesterday — conferment of the Freedom of the City to President Mnangagwa.
Despite the rains that fell on Thursday night, the programme proceeded without any interruptions. The conferment is the highest civic honour a council can bestow on a prominent man or woman for meritorious service, either of a national or local character.
The event was graced by several senior Government officials, including Vice-President Constantino Chiwenga, who congratulated President Mnangagwa for his excellent and visionary leadership that seeks to improve the lives of citizens and achieve an upper-middle-income economy by 2030. Zanu-PF Second Secretary Cde Kembo Mohadi, Zanu-PF National
Chairperson Cde Oppah Muchinguri Kashiri, the Speaker of Parliament Cde Jacob Mudenda also attended. The conferment was a celebration of the highest order and a symbol of confidence that the people of Gweru, the Midlands province, and
Zimbabweans in general have in President Mnangagwa’s leadership.
After unveiling the plaque, President Mnangagwa headed for the Town House where he attended the City of Gweru special full council meeting that was conducted at the Civic Centre grounds to accommodate all the people who came to witness the event.
Mayor Councillor Hamutendi Kombayi welcomed the members to the special full council meeting before acting town clerk Mr Livingstone Churu read the notice convening the special council meeting.
Mr Churu read the Scroll saying, “At a meeting of the Council, held in the Council Chamber 696 Ordinary Council meeting held in the Mayor’s parlour, Municipal offices, Civic Centre Gweru on Monday November 28 2022, it was resolved in pursuance of the provision of paragraph 52, of the second schedule of the Urban Councils Act (Chapter 29:15). That the Mayor, Councillors and Aldermen, on behalf of the citizens of the City of Gweru, do confer the First Honorary Freedom of the City of Gweru Upon His Excellency, the President of the Republic of Zimbabwe, Head of State and Government, The Commander-In-Chief of the Zimbabwe Defence Forces, Dr Emmerson Dambudzo Mnangagwa.”
He said this was a mark of the high regard that he is viewed by the Councillors, Aldermen and the residents of the city.
“His bravery in the execution of the war of liberation which saw him spending ten years in the colonial regime prisons and his release from prison that occurred in Zimbabwe and Zambia. As a person born in the Midlands Province, and Gweru being the capital of the Midlands Province we will forever cherish and honour the bravery to fight for independence and economic development,” said Mr Churu.
He said the people of Gweru commend President Mnangagwa’s excellent and visionary leadership as shown by his efforts to improve the lives of the citizens of Zimbabwe underpinned by Vision 2030 which seeks to eradicate poverty and endeavours to achieve an upper middle-income economy.
“We applaud the statesmanship he has exhibited in successfully maintaining unity, peace and prosperity in the country and for his effort in re-engagement and amalgamation within the international community of nations,” said Mr Churu. President Mnangagwa then signed the Freedom Roll and was presented with a Freedom of the City key much to the ululation and applause from the people present.
In his congratulatory message, VP Chiwenga said the conferment was a special honour to President Mnangagwa whom he said had contributed to the growth and development of Gweru.
“I am reliably informed that this is the second conferment in the history of Gweru to the Heads of State. The last was given to the late founding father of Zimbabwe former president Cde Robert Mugabe in 1992. The honour symbolises the confidence that the people of Gweru, the Midlands province and the generality of Zimbabweans have in your leadership,” he said.
VP Chiwenga said the conferment was not just an achievement but a celebration of the highest order in appreciation of the outcomes and impact that President Mnangagwa is making in improving the livelihoods of the people.
“To us privileged to work close to you on a daily basis, we are convinced that there is no better leader than you to take us to the Zimbabwe we all want and desire. The Lord must be smiling that the leader he has given to Zimbabwe has made great strides and has achieved many milestones in stabilising, growing consolidating and sustaining the social economic and political gains made since the advent of the Second Republic,” he said.
VP Chiwenga said Cllr Kombayi, his council, management and the people of Gweru have demonstrated the greatest love and affection to President Mnangagwa by bestowing him with this honour.
“We join them in appreciating this kind gesture,” he said.
VP Chiwenga said the fact that the conferment was done when the council was sitting in full session is a testimony of the overwhelming consensus that President Mnangagwa is a distinguished citizen being awarded for his servant leadership and astute statesmanship and deserves this very high hour.
“You stand high among great luminaries and this has made this great council place you in the annuls of strategists. I want to say to the people of Gweru and the Midlands that you have done today, demonstrate it in the coming general elections by observing peace, unity love and harmony. We are all Zimbabweans and this is our only motherland, we were born here and will die here,” he said.