Thousands of people yesterday thronged various centres in Matabeleland, Masvingo and Midlands provinces to commemorate the country’s 33rd Heroes Day anniversary. In Bulawayo hundreds attended the event at the Bulawayo Provincial Heroes’ Acre in Nkulumane.Thousands of gallant sons and daughters died, hundreds disappeared and countless others were maimed fighting for the country’s freedom. Conspicuous by their absence at yesterday’s commemorations were the leaders of the two MDC formations. This did not deter the huge crowd from uniting to enjoy the day.
The event started with entertainment by the Zimbabwe National Army Brass Band.
The LMG Choir took to the stage with a song they composed in 1978 after settler forces bombed Mukushi Liberation Fighters Camp in Zambia and killed scores of freedom fighters. The song, entitled Akulahlwa Mbeleko Ngokufelwa, encouraged the liberators to continue fighting despite the huge blow. It was well received by the crowd.
By the time Amakhosikazi Enthuthuko from Zanu-PF Bulawayo’s Women League danced to a song encouraging Zimbabweans who are in self imposed exile abroad, to return home, the crowd was celebrating in one accord.
Two inmates from Khami Prison took the crowd down memory lane with a highly emotive poem reminding Zimbabweans of the atrocities and degrading treatment their parents and ancestors were subjected to by successive settler regimes.
Groups that included Mqabuko Revolution and Ziliwaco also danced to catchy tunes that reminded the crowd about the importance of uniting as Zimbabweans and celebrating the freedom and sovereignty the country enjoys because of the sacrifices of its heroes and heroines.
Ndux Junior, the son of the late iconic Kalanga musician Ndux Malax wound up the entertainment with an apt song, the anthemic Unity is Number One penned by his father.
The Governor and Resident Minister of Bulawayo Metropolitan Province, Ambassador Cain Mathema, who also read President Mugabe’s speech, paid tribute to the committee that was set up to spruce up the Heroes’ Acre.
“The committee, working with businesses and other organisations, which include PG, Davies Granite and the National Museum and Monuments of Zimbabwe, recently rehabilitated 120 graves at the provincial shrine.
“A total of 38 more graves will be rehabilitated in the coming weeks,” said Ambassador Mathema.
Cde Mathema later led senior civil servants and members of the uniformed forces in laying wreaths at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier.
Gwanda Provincial Heroes’ Acre in Matabeleland South provincial capital Gwanda also saw hundreds of people paying tribute to the fallen heroes and heroines. Guest of honour, Matabeleland South Provincial Governor and Resident Minister Angeline Masuku arrived at the shrine at around 11am accompanied by service chiefs, Officer Commanding Police Matabeleland South Senior Assistant Commissioner Munyaradzi Goodwill Musariri, Zimbabwe National Army Bulawayo District Commander Lieutenant Exebious Vusa Tshuma and Officer Commanding Zimbabwe Prison Services in Matabeleland South, Chief Superintendent Social Ndanga.
Governor Masuku read the Presidential speech at around 11.30am. She took the opportunity to commend people of Matabeleland South for maintaining a peaceful environment before, during and after the 31 July harmonised elections. She said this year has been a good year for Matabeleland South as people in the province voted overwhelmingly for President Mugabe and Zanu-PF in the just-ended harmonised elections which saw the party taking all the 13 parliamentary seats in Matabeleland South.
“Our fallen heroes and heroines lying at this shrine and those at the National Heroes Acre in Harare are today happy that Zanu-PF won the elections with a very wide margin just like it did in 1980,” said Governor Masuku.
She said Zanu-PF would now spearhead development projects and fulfill other promises it pledged during its campaigns.
“Let me remind you that the struggle continues. We should start preparing for the 2018 election so that the country remains in our hands. Let us stand united in building the country’s economy and address issues pertaining to health service delivery, poverty alleviation and the creation of employment,” she said.
She hailed President Mugabe for assisting the people in Matabeleland South Province with food during the drought period.
Governor Masuku led in the laying of wreaths at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. She was followed by Senior Asst Comm Musariri, Colonel Tshuma, Chief Supt Ndanga and Cde Johns Nkomo who represented the war veterans.
She and other dignitaries toured the shrine and chatted with families of the 26 fallen heroes and heroines interred at the Gwanda Provincial Heroes’ Acre. Some families of the fallen heroes commended the sprucing up of the shrine saying it showed respect for the heroes.
In Gweru, people started arriving at the provincial heroes’ acre as early as 8 am and the majority were clad in Zanu-PF regalia.
Various entertainment groups took the people down memory lane through revolutionary poems and songs. WhaWha inmates dance group was the main attraction.
The guest of honour and Governor for the Midlands province, Jason Machaya arrived at 11.20 am. After reading President Mugabe’s speech, the Midlands Chimurenga Choir took the stage and serenaded the gathering with their hit song, Mira PaZanu-PF much to the delight of the crowd which started waving their hats in the air while singing along.
Governor Machaya then laid a wreath at the Tomb of Unknown Soldier. He was followed by service chiefs and commissioner of Gweru, Mr Clever Mandaza. War veterans Midlands chapter leader representative, Cde Reuben Mafika also laid a wreath on behalf of war veterans and was followed by Cde George Hungwe who was representing the Zimbabwe Liberation War Collaborators Association.
In an interview at the shrine, Governor Machaya said the high turnout was a clear message to the country’s enemies that Zimbabweans were united and aware of their history. He also thanked the people of Midlands province for voting for Zanu-PF in the recent harmonised elections.
“The high turnout is so impressive and it shows that as Zimbabweans, we know our history and the country’s enemies will not succeed in trying to divide us.
“People are still in a celebratory mood following the peaceful elections which saw Zanu-PF winning the elections resoundingly. I would want to thank the people of the Midlands province in particular for voting for the revolutionary Zanu-PF party,” he said.
Former Midlands Provincial Governor, Cde Cephas Msipa whose wife is buried at the shrine, said he was disappointed by the MDC formations’ decision to boycott the event. He said by boycotting the event, the MDC formations were isolating themselves from the people.
“Heroes Day commemoration is a national event. The MDC formations should not snub such events as they risk being isolated by the people,” he said.
The event in Lupane, Matabeleland North, was also highly subscribed. There are 24 graves at the provincial shrine and families of those buried at the shrine expressed concern over its state, saying it should be protected to avoid destruction by animals.
“I am happy that the country recognises the fallen heroes. I hope everyone will honour the fallen heroes and help take care of the children they left behind.
“However we hope that something would be done to protect this shrine because children play on the graves while animals are destroying the graves,” said Mrs Monica Ngwenya, the widow of former Zipra freedom fighter David Ngwenya, who died in 2007.
Matabeleland North Governor and Resident Minister, Thokozile Mathuthu read the Presidential speech and led in the laying of the wreaths on the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier.
Zimbabwe Republic Police Officer Commanding Matabeleland North Senior Assistant Commissioner Norman Sibanda, Officer Commanding Zimbabwe Prison Service in the province, Assistant Commissioner George Denya and the Deputy Commander One Brigade Colonel Brave Matavire also laid wreaths. Provincial war veterans chairman Cde Nkanyezi Sibanda also laid the wreath on behalf of war veterans.
A capacity crowd thronged the Masvingo Provincial Heroes’ Acre amid calls for people to pay homage to both living and fallen heroes.
Masvingo Governor and Resident Minister, Titus Maluleke read the President’s speech before leading service chiefs and other dignitaries in laying wreaths at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier.
In separate interviews dignitaries hailed people of Masvingo for appeasing the spirits of the fallen heroes by voting resoundingly for the revolutionary party. They said this year’s commemoration came at a time when people of Masvingo had rekindled the lost pride by voting for Zanu-PF in the just-ended harmonised elections.
Powered by WPeMatico