By Moses Matenga, Lorraine Muromo and Harriet Chikandiwa
Government yesterday said the National Youth Day gazetted in November 2017 in honour of the late former President Robert Mugabe, no longer has anything to do with his legacy, but was now a day to “share with youths the successes and future programmes of the new dispensation”.
Mugabe’s birthday was February 21 and the day had traditionally been dedicated towards celebrating his political achievements.
Celebrated each year since 1986 under the banner of 21st February Movement in honour of the now late former Zanu PF leader who died last September, the day was only officially declared a public holiday the same month he was toppled by his former confidante Emmerson Mnangagwa in a November 2017 military coup.
But yesterday, Information permanent secretary Nick Mangwana said the day had nothing to do with the late Statesman, adding that it was just a coincidence that the holiday fell on his birthday.
“Today is not Mugabe’s day, it is a day for the youths. It is a national youth day and the Minister of Youth (Kirsty Coventry) gave a statement yesterday (Thursday),” Mangwana said.
“The whole point is that it is a national youth holiday which obviously coincides with the birth of the late former President Robert Mugabe, but the holiday is a national youth day. If you want to focus on people’s birthdays, did you call me when it was President Mnangagwa’s birthday?”
In her speech, Coventry said the day was meant for government to share with the youths the successes and future programmes of the Mnangagwa administration.
But in 2016, then Zanu PF youth leader Pupurai Togarepi proposed the Robert Mugabe Day “in recognition of the immense contributions he has made to Zimbabwe.”
Then Mugabe was revered and idolised by his Zanu PF followers who even implored him to continue in power despite his advanced age.
After his ouster, Mugabe broke ties with his ‘tormentors’ and died a bitter man, culminating in his private burial at his rural Kutama home as his widow, Grace, refused to have his remains interred at the National Heroes Acre.
Yesterday, the Mugabe family snubbed government officials and held a private memorial service dubbed 21st February memorial service at their Blue Roof residence in Borrowdale, Harare where only close family members were invited.
“There is a function, but is a private family function though,” Mugabe family relative and former Epworth Member of Parliament Zalera Makari said while confirming the Blue Roof event.
Mugabe’s legacy continues to divide the nation with his rivals still blaming him for the country’s current economic and political instability, while others continue to idolise him.
Former Harare Zanu PF provincial commissar Shadreck Mashayamombe and die-hard Mugabe supporter said the late leader was in a class of his own and people were beginning to miss him.
“Gushungo you were not holy, but you have proven that you were much better than what is here with us today. Most people are now saying you were better.
“The prayer of the people of Zimbabwe was or is to have someone better than you. People want to enjoy in their own country, have peace and joy,” he said.
Former Local Government minister Saviour Kasukuwere said those who took over from Mugabe had failed to take his vision forward.
“Do they even know what a vision is? For one to talk of vision, you should know what a vision is. It is about deeply thinking on how to take the country forward, how I should behave, but now we see a huge crisis, queues all over,” Kasukuwere said.
MDC youth leader Obey Sithole said : “When we talk about Mugabe, we reflect of a man who presided over the murder of several Zimbabweans. He led to the destruction of our industries leading to high joblessness, a predicament that we are still battling with.” NewsDay