ZIMBABWEANS turned out in their thousands yesterday to commemorate Heroes Day countrywide with the main celebrations at the National Heroes’ Acre in Harare. Provincial governors and resident ministers officiated in the provinces where they read the President’s speech and laid wreaths at provincial heroes acres within their jurisdictions.
The grandstand at the National Heroes Acre failed to contain the multitudes who spilled over into the surrounding hillsides and treetops to follow proceedings.
Cheers, dancing and singing punctuated proceedings, paying tribute to Zanu-PF’s resounding victory in the harmonised elections.
The crowd went into delirium once President Mugabe’s motorcade arrived at the shrine.
Chants of “Gushungo, Gushungo, bhora mughedhi” reverberated at the national shrine.
As early as 7am, people had begun streaming into the National Heroes Acre with those interviewed hailing the sacrifices of the heroes and heroines who liberated Zimbabwe.
Zanu-PF spokesman Cde Rugare Gumbo paid tribute to the huge crowd, describing the turnout as tremendous.
“We are pleased and excited with the turnout. This is tremendous and expected following our victory,” he said.
Zanu-PF House of Assembly member-elect for Norton Cde Christopher Mutsvangwa said the huge turnout was a reflection of the party’s election victory.
“There is clear reconnection of national mood with the sacrifice of the heroes lying here whose only goal was for Zimbabwe to have bountiful opportunities in the land of their birth,” he said.
Ms Nyengeterai Mahofa said she joined thousands others to commemorate the day because of the selfless sacrifice of the national heroes and other freedom fighters.
“This is an important day for us all. It makes us reconnect with the liberation struggle going forward,” she said.
Reverend Obadiah Musindo echoed similar sentiments, saying MDC-T leader Mr Morgan Tsvangirai lost the harmonised polls because he had once visited the national shrine where Zimbabwe’s founding fathers are interred.
“Tsvangirai cursed himself the day he visited this acre because the spirits of the fallen heroes are against his agenda,” he said.
Cde Getrude Takawira, daughter of the late national hero Cde Leopold Takawira, said her family was happy to join other Zimbabweans in celebrating Heroes’ Day because, “Our father had love, was bold, fearless and selfless for the sake of the rest of us”.
She said it was rare to share such celebrations with the whole nation.
Mrs Ferbie Mandina said she was at the national shrine to honour fallen freedom fighters.
“The heroes lying here gave us independence. This is the reason we voted resoundingly for Zanu-PF. We will never let Zimbabwe go,” she said.
Cde Sydney Msika said the Msika family had attended in large numbers to mark the day.
“He was our family icon. What makes the family happier is the resounding victory posted by Zanu-PF in the harmonised elections. I am sure his soul is resting in peace following the victory,” he said.
Cde David Parirenyatwa, son of the late national hero and first black Zimbabwean medical doctor Cde Samuel Tichafa Parirenyatwa, said the hero’s family will always cherish the day.
“This day is dear to us. We come here solidly as a family. Our father died very young at the age of 37,” he said.
Brother to national hero Cde Eddison Zvobgo, Professor Rungano Zvobgo said the National Heroes’ Acre was like a second home to the Zvobgo family whose other member, wife to Cde Eddison Zvobgo, Cde Julia Zvobgo was also interred at the national shrine.
Cde Walter Mzembi said the huge turnout was a befitting tribute to the massive Zanu-PF win that saw the party reclaim its majority status in local politics.
Chief Fortune Charumbira, his deputy Chief Mtshane Khumalo and Chief Chiduku, paid tribute to the huge crowd and implored Zanu-PF to continue with empowerment programmes.
Outgoing Deputy Prime Minister Arthur Mutambara was among the guests who included Namibian Defence Forces chief Lieutenant General Epaphras Denga Ndaitwah and members of the diplomatic corps.
MDC-T leader Morgan Tsvangirai and his party senior members did not attend the celebrations along with MDC leader Professor Welshman Ncube, both apparently still smarting from the heavy drubbing they received in the just-ended harmonised elections.
Senior Zanu-PF officials among them Cde Didymus Mutasa, Cde Ignatius Chombo, Cde Simon Khaya Moyo, Cde Emmerson Mnangagwa, Cde Webster Shamu, Cde Chris Mutsvangwa and Cde Sydney Sekeramayi were in attendance along with their spouses.
Families and surviving spouses of departed national heroes came in their numbers and were available to lay wreaths and flowers on the graves of their relatives. Others swept by the gravesides while some held prayers.
The crowd displayed posters that told of the Zanu-PF victory in no uncertain terms.
Some of the posters read “Learn to Lose with Dignity’’, ‘’Which African Country has the West ever Developed?’’, ‘’Well Damned Yet Still Damned!’’, ‘’Ulani Lakho Enkukhwini Yesethekeleni?” ‘’Is Zesn larger than Sadc, Comesa, AU, Third World?”, ‘’There is Honour in Conceding Defeat’’ among other posters with telling messages.
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