By Andrew Kunambura
President Robert Mugabe’s deification crusade moved a notch higher on Friday, with government creating a new public holiday in his honour.
The Robert Gabriel Mugabe National Youth Day, which restless Zanu PF youths have been clamouring for, will be commemorated annually on his birthday, February 21.
Addressing a press conference in Harare yesterday, Home Affairs minister Ignatius Chombo said the holiday was approved by Cabinet on Wednesday.
The holiday was created in terms of section two of the Public Holidays and Prohibition of Business Act.
“We have called this press conference to announce the designation of 21st February as a national public holiday which shall be called the Robert Gabriel Mugabe National Youth Day. This is with effect from 21st February, 2018,” Chombo said.
“This declaration comes as a culmination of years of advocacy and lobbying initially made by the founders of the 21st February Movement and subsequently by the Zanu PF national youth league.
“The youths are acknowledging the unparalleled, visionary, persistent and principles of president and first secretary of Zanu PF and honouring him for the peace, tranquillity, harmony and quiet prevailing among the people of Zimbabwe.
“The youth league had resolved every year from 2012 that the 21st February be declared a national public holiday. The past three Zanu PF conferences passed a resolution asking government to declare 21st February a national public holiday. The same resolution was also made by several Zanu PF congresses,” he said.
Chombo said the main objective behind the holiday was “to highlight the values and principles so brilliantly displayed by the president …which have resulted in an exemplary life which our youths want to emulate.”
He said the Youth, Indigenisation and Economic Empowerment ministry would now take over the organisation of the annual 21st February Movement commemorations but would be working closely with the Zanu PF youth league.
This means the event would now get State funding, further straining the already lean fiscus.
Although he acknowledged the pressure piled by current Zanu PF secretary for youth affairs Kudzanai Chipanga, Chombo denied that he had expedited the declaration following threats by the firebrand youthful politician that they would chase him away from next year’s 21st February Movement celebrations if he did not do so.
“Chipanga is just 34 and there have been calls for this day to be declared a public holiday for the past 22 years.
“It is only a coincidence that it’s being declared during his tenure. I am not in any way responding to Chipanga,” Chombo said.
The press conference was attended by Youth, Indigenisation and Economic Empowerment minister Patrick Zhuwao; Agriculture, Irrigation and Mechanisation minister Joseph Made; Information, Media and Broadcasting Services minister Chris Mushohwe, Deputy Tourism and Hospitality minister Annastasia Ndlovu and former Zanu PF national political commissar Webster Shamu. Daily News