THE country yesterday commemorated its 41st Independence Day with a difference in accordance to Covid-19 prevention protocols.
For the second year running Covid-19 has restricted the traditional Independence Day commemorations as members of the public were urged to celebrate at home.
The majority of Zimbabweans followed the main programme at State House in Harare, where President Mnangagwa presented his Independence Day speech, virtually while a few officials were in attendance.
In provinces, Ministers of Provincial Affairs and Devolution and some delegates followed the proceedings from selected locations where there was observation of Covid-19 prevention protocols.
Security chiefs, representatives from the business sector, religious leaders, politicians and other social groups participated in the hybrid Independence Day commemorations.
In Bulawayo the commemorations were held at United College of Education as opposed to the White City Stadium where the celebrations are usually held.
Bulawayo Provincial Affairs and Devolution Minister Judith Ncube said despite the Covid-19 pandemic, it was important for the country to mark Independence Day.
“From the President’s message, he was very clear that although the country is facing challenges, Government has not stopped to address issues that touch citizens lives. Government is implementing socio-economic development projects. We are happy with the way we held our Independence Day celebrations as we managed to converge even in small numbers to mark the country’s independence because of Covid-19. I therefore, want to say to Bulawayo and Zimbabweans amhlophe on attaining 41st Independence anniversary,” said Minister Ncube.
Zimbabwe Christian Alliance director Reverend Useni Sibanda who also attended the provincial celebration said President Mnangagwa’s Independence Day message calls for self-reflection if the country is to prosper.
“The President’s message was very encouraging. It’s helping us as Zimbabweans to reflect on the journey that we have gone as a country 41 years later. Also, he touched on issues that affect communities like child abuse. He also made a call for all of us to work together.
Sometimes we always say, what can my country do for me and I think the call is what can I do for my country. For me this is what was striking from the President’s message,” said Rev Sibanda.
In Matabeleland North, people followed proceedings virtually with 50 delegates at each centre in six districts while Lupane hosted the provincial gathering at Lupane State University (LSU).
Present at LSU were Provincial Affairs and Devolution Minister Richard Moyo, Primary and Secondary Education Minister Cain Mathema, Chief Mabhikwa of Lupane, Service chiefs, the Provincial Development Co-ordinator Mrs Sithandiwe Ncube, Lupane East and proportional representation legislators Mbongeni Dube and Molly Mnkandla respectively.
Minister Moyo commended the President saying his speech touched all the aspects of the country’s development.
“The President’s speech was very clear on the country’s trajectory. He touched on projects that are in the hearts of people in Matabeleland region such as Gwayi Shangani Dam, power generation at Hwange Unit Seven and Eight and has launched emergency road rehabilitation projects. Even the Intwasa/Pfumvudza programme. These are issues that touch our people and have created a lot of optimism among the people of Matabeleland region,” said Minister Moyo.
He expressed gratitude to the country’s liberators saying Zimbabwe is able to chart its path because of their contributions.
“No nation can decide for us how we should move as a country. This is one of the benefits of attaining independence hence, we want to thank our fathers, brothers, mothers and sisters who participated in the liberation struggle. We are able to map our future without being apologetic to any nation,” he said.
Chief Mabhikwa said while holding virtual celebrations may have meant that majority of elderly missed out on this year’s event, the successful following on the proceedings from various centres showed the country had embraced technology.
“Independence is a reflection of how this country came about and for us to know our forefathers’ sacrifice to go into the bush and shed blood fighting colonial rule. As Matabeleland we were meant to benefit because Bulawayo was supposed to host this year’s rotational event which would have been a good thing knowing the Second Republic is decentralising for everyone to feel the importance of national events.
“We have elders who may have wanted to be part of the celebrations but couldn’t but for those that came now believe the country has embraced technology and it was good to listen to plans of the Second Republic on developmental issues including mining, devolution, building of schools and roads,” he said.
In Matabeleland South, the provincial celebrations were held at the Governor’s Boardroom at Provincial Development Coordinator offices in Gwanda where Government officials followed proceedings via national broadcaster ZBC TV.
Matabeleland South Minister of State for Provincial Affairs and Devolution Abednego Ncube led the proceedings which were attended by Environment, Climate, Tourism and Hospitality Industry Minister Nqobizitha Mangaliso Ndlovu, Primary and Secondary Education Deputy Minister Edgar Moyo, Chief Masuku, service chiefs among other members of the public.
Speaking after President Mnangagwa’s address Minister Ncube said the people in Matabeleland South should take heed of President Mnangagwa’s message including being vaccinated against Covid-19.
He said information should be spread across the rural communities which are the majority of the province’s population.
“The ball is now in everyone’s court that as leaders of local authorities, go to your people and conscientise them on the vaccination programme. The pandemic needs each and every one to come together and fight it,” said Minister Ncube.