April 19, 2024

Record crowd attends Independence celebrations

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Zvamaida Murwira 

MORE than 70 000 people yesterday thronged Murambinda B Secondary School in Buhera District, Manicaland Province, for the 44th Independence celebrations that were presided over by President Mnangagwa.

Large numbers of people started arriving from as early as 5am at the Uhera Stadium, the venue of the event, illuminating the usually quiet Murambinda Growth Point.

The celebrations were only the second to be held in a rural environment since 1980, after Mt Darwin District in Mashonaland Central Province hosted the event last year.

But overall, this was the third Independence Day celebrations to be held outside Harare, again since 1980, after the 2022 celebrations were held in Bulawayo, in line with the Second Republic’s thrust of leaving no place and no one behind.

By 8am queues leading into the venue snaked as long as 3km while vehicular traffic could be seen parking over one and a half kilometres away from the venue, as the area close to the venue was already full.

President Mnangagwa together with his two Vice Presidents, Constantino Chiwenga and Kembo Mohadi, and Cabinet ministers, were some of the dignitaries at the event.

Information, Publicity and Broadcasting Services Minister Dr Jenfan Muswere and Local Government and Public Works Minister Winston Chitando were co-directors of ceremony.

Some members of the opposition also attended the event, in a show of unity around the national cause.

Those present included CCC acting president Professor Welshman Ncube, the party’s interim secretary general Senator Sengezo Tshabangu, National Constitutional Assembly leader Professor Lovemore Madhuku and CCC chief whip in the National Assembly, Mr Shakespeare Hamauswa.

In an interview, Prof Madhuku said Independence Day was a national event, and not a preserve of one political party or leader.

“It supersedes political differences. The oneness of a country is demonstrated by attending Independence Day, so we have attended the celebrations to demonstrate the fact that it’s a national event not for a political party or leader,” said Prof Madhuku.

Sen Tshabangu said everyone has a duty to attend national events despite their political persuasion.

“This is not a Zanu PF event, but a national event for all patriotic citizens,” said Sen Tshabangu.

The decision by the Second Republic to decentralise the hosting of the event, particularly in rural areas, seems to have hit the right chord as villagers from neighbouring areas such as Muzokomba, Chirozva, Mutiusinazita, Bhegedhe, Bangure, Betera, Dorowa and Gwevo, among others, flocked to the venue.

Organisers of the celebrations had to open more entrance points to expedite the movement of people into the venue.

The commemorations started in earnest after the grand arrival of President Mnangagwa, who got a standing ovation from the crowd upon his entrance.

There were two flypasts by the Air Force of Zimbabwe, as the national anthem was played, to mark the official start of proceedings.

President Mnangagwa then inspected a guard of honour mounted by the Zimbabwe Defence Forces, the Zimbabwe Republic Police and the Zimbabwe Prisons and Correctional Services.

Later, he lit the Independence Flame, before the crowd was treated to scintillating drills by members of the security forces.

President Mnangagwa delivered his address, which focused on major achievements of the Government and its future objectives.

There were further entertainment displays by the Zimbabwe Republic Police and drum majorettes.

The crowd was also treated to an entertaining match between Dynamos and Highlanders, with the Harare giants winning 1-0.

This year’s commemorations were held under the theme, “Zimbabwe at 44: Unity, Peace and Development towards Vision 2030”.

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