ZIMBABWEANS today turn up in their numbers at different shrines in the country for the Heroes Day commemorations to honour the gallant sons and daughters of the land who sacrificed their lives to liberate the country.
The main commemorations will be held at the National Heroes Acre in Harare presided over by President Mnangagwa.
Provinces will also hold commemorations at the respective provincial shrines led by Ministers for Provincial Affairs and Devolution who will read the President’s speech.
Tomorrow, the President will also headline the Defence Forces Day at the National Sports Stadium while the Provincial Ministers preside over the provincial celebrations.
This year’s commemorations are special in that they come at a time when the Government has relaxed Covid-19 regulations and expectation is that many people will turn up at the shrines.
The Minister Information, Publicity and Broadcasting Services Monica Mutsvangwa on Saturday said gates will be opened to the public at 7AM today while Government will provide transport to ferry the families of all national heroes to the National Shrine.
“It’s good to be back physically honouring illustrious sons and daughters of this great nation after the Covid-19 induced hiatus. The main events will happen at the National Heroes Acre.
His Excellency, the President will give the national address at 10.35am.
“Thereafter, the Presidium will lay wreaths on the tomb of the Unknown Soldier.
The President will handover flags to families of heroes who were declared after they had been buried. Families of heroes will be taken from their homes and brought to Harare,” she said.
As Zimbabweans commemorate these two special days, let us heed President Mnangagwa’s calls for unity in the country.
Writing in his weekly column, published in the Sunday News and The Sunday Mail, President Mnangagwa said the 1987 Unity Accord is a key pillar of national peace and stability, and should never be challenged, breached or compromised.
He said the Heroes Day Commemorations and the Defence Forces Day rehash bitter memories of the liberation struggle, all of them encapsulated and embodied in the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier.
The President said while there were political disturbances in the early years of the country’s independence, peace prevailed after the Unity Accord was signed by the late President Cde Robert Mugabe and the late Vice President Dr Joshua Nkomo, bringing together political parties that fought colonialism, Zanu-PF and PF-Zapu.
“True, they were fratricidal disturbances in the early years of our Independence, but reason prevailed in the end, as our leaders met, talked and embraced, to give us a legacy of peace and stability we enjoy to this day, and which we have a duty to bequeath to posterity.
“The Unity Accord which our leaders struck, is a key pillar of National Peace and Stability. It should never be challenged, breached or compromised by whomsoever,” he said.
President Mnangagwa said more than 100 000 souls were lost in the liberation war, with almost all families across the country having lost someone during the war in pursuit of freedom.
The 15-year war for National Liberation also claimed the unarmed: defenceless men, women, children, orphans and refugees lost both in the rear and inside the country, as there was wanton carnage and senseless reprisals by the Rhodesian army in its vain bid to forestall the overwhelming quest for freedom.
“Many of us carry wounds from that past, wounds that evoke bitterness which we struggle to assuage. We recall moments of betrayal by those we mistook for comrades-in-arms.
“We re-live tragic moments when fellow comrades fell in battle, some even dying in our arms, their precious blood mixing with bitter tears of irreparable loss. Many of these we could not honour with decent burials or rites.
“We were in a brutal war, and in war, terrible things do happen. Heroes Day Commemorations thus rehash those bitter memories, all of them encapsulated and embodied in the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier.”