By Tendai Kamhungira
Opposition political parties have said they will be attending a rally marking Zimbabwe’s 38th independence anniversary celebrations in Harare tomorrow, saying it was a national event.
Zimbabweans remember the anniversary of their country’s independence from British colonial rule on April 18 yearly.
It will be the first celebrations since independence in 1980 that will not feature the 94-year-old former ruler, Robert Mugabe, who was forced to step down after the military seized power in November in a soft coup.
Mugabe’s successor, the new leader of the ruling Zanu PF party, Emmerson Mnangagwa, will preside over this year’s celebrations. The new head of State, who has been preaching inclusive politics, is expected to address a crowd tomorrow at the National Sports Stadium in the capital, Harare.
During the celebration, the government holds its usual ceremonial speeches and military parade along with the public air exhibition of fighter planes in the sky at the Chinese-built 60 000-seater stadium.
Releasing white doves has become a tradition during the holiday symbolising peace across the nation while singing Zimbabwe’s national anthem.
MDC president Nelson Chamisa — the presidential candidate of the largest opposition coalition, MDC Alliance — told thousands who attended his recent rally in Bulawayo that his party has declared the whole of April independence month.
The war of independence killed 30 000 people in the years before the former British colony of Rhodesia became Zimbabwe.
Chamisa said it was important to redefine why the independence struggle was fought and how the new generation can embrace the celebration of independence as equals knowing they too fought for the independence of this nation.
The 40-year-old said independence was attained so that people could lead a better life, not the constant struggles people endure in this generation.
“We did not attain independence to see the problems we face this day. We did not attain independence for the suffering and fracturing we are seeing in this country.
“We did not attain independence to victimise people,” Chamisa said. His comments come amid a worsening cash crisis in the country of more than 13 million, which has for months now witnessed people sleeping outside their banks to be able to get money.
Former vice president Joice Mujuru’s National People’s Party said it will attend the event.
“This is a national event where people do not have to be invited and Zimbabweans across the political divide are expected to attend irrespective of colour or creed.
“We have no problem in attending the event because we are Zimbabweans above everything else. As a party, we will attend, but we have a history of being abused in this country at such events,” Nyandoro said.
Mugabe used such events to attack the opposition and western countries that had imposed sanctions on Zimbabwe as retaliation against his hostile policies. Such rhetoric, had turned such events as the Independence Day into a circus, with the opposition boycotting.
The Welshman Ncube-led MDC’s spokesperson Kurauone Chihwayi, said their party members are free to attend tomorrow’s event as it is a national day.
“We have not been officially invited by the ‘outgoing’ Zanu PF government but those willing to attend can do so without hesitation. Zimbabweans cannot seek clearance to attend national events. In our view this is not a Zanu PF day or event, it’s a national day that Zanu PF has failed to respect or understand.
“We are urging …Mnangagwa to separate national events from Zanu PF. Zimbabweans are still living in fear 38 years after gaining independence because of people in Zanu PF who abused office to lie about national events and changed the meaning of national days.
“We are not going to force people to attend the Independence Day celebrations. Those interested can attend but all of us will take time to reflect on our past and future. This is our stock take day.
“What I know is that everybody will celebrate this day in different places, it will be celebrated in homes, farms, stadiums and even churches not only at the stadium,” Chihwayi said.
Obert Gutu, who is the spokesperson of Thokozani Khupe-led MDC camp, said Independence Day is an important and historic day in the country.
“We urge all Zimbabweans to actively participate in the commemoration of this very important day on our national calendar. Zimbabwe is for all of us regardless of race, colour or creed.
“On that note, we also call upon the ruling party to desist from treating Independence Day as an exclusively Zanu PF event. Independence Day celebrations should be national and absolutely non–partisan,” he said.
Tendai Biti’s People’s Democratic Party spokesperson Jacob Mafume also confirmed to the Daily News that his party will be attending the event. DailyNews