By Jeffrey Moyo
Zimbabwe marks its 38th independence anniversary on Wednesday, the first celebration without former President Robert Mugabe, who was toppled from power last year.
And for the first time, the opposition parties were invited by President Emerson Mnangagwa’s government to be present at the celebrations.
Despite the Independence Day being a national event, the country’s ruling Zimbabwe Africa National Union Patriotic Front (Zanu-PF) supporters came donning their party regalia.
Asked why they wore their party apparel, one of the party supporters, 45-year-old Sarudzai Keche, said: “We were just given the uniforms as we arrived here, but I should say I’m happy about the independence celebrations; that’s all I can say.”
But the opposition party leaders, in attendance at the celebrations for the first time, expressed excitement at being part of the event.
The opposition parties are attending this event a few months ahead of the country is scheduled to hold its “transparent and harmonized elections”, as Mnangagwa put it several weeks ago.
Officiating at the celebrations, President Mnangagwa said: “Together, we embark on a new journey of nation building, irrespective of creed, language, age, religion or political persuasion. In unity, peace and harmony, guided by the love of our country and informed by a desire to build a better tomorrow, we are rekindling the pride in being Zimbabweans.”
Nelson Chamisa, the president of the country’s largest political party, and President Mnangagwa arrived at the venue of the celebrations together to rapturous applause, the giant National Sports stadium, where an estimated number of 60,000 people had gathered to celebrate the country’s independence.
This is the first Independence Day celebration Mr. Mnangagwa is officiating after his former boss left office unceremoniously last year in November in a military operation code-named Operation Restore Legacy.
Welcome Shumba, the president of the opposition the Suffering Voice of Zimbabwe, said: “As an opposition leader, I’m happy to be here; this is a national event, not a party event.”
Henry Mutasa, the president of the Kambizi Party, also said he was in attendance because independence was not only for Zanu-PF. “It is for all Zimbabweans. We are all benefiting from independence. This is not a day for Zanu-PF; it’s a day for Zimbabwe, for everybody.”
Even other opposition political parties such as the New Patriotic Front (NPF), attended the celebrations.
“We are just here to be with other Zimbabweans to show the world that the ruling Zanu-PF party did not fight for independence alone. What I can say is that by inviting opposition parties to this day, Mnangagwa is being all-inclusive, but he should be quick to put new faces to his ministerial posts,” said Tendai Munyanduri, the NPF president.
For Lyold Katiyo, representing Maat Zimbabwe, another opposition party, the presence of all the opposition leaders “is the beginning of the new era; all Zimbabweans should celebrate this day; we give credit to the ruling party for inviting opposition parties to be at these celebrations.”
During the reign of Mugabe, independence celebrations were exclusive events attended only by members of the ruling Zanu-PF party. Opposition parties used to be prohibited from attending the gatherings.Anadolu Agency website contains only a portion of the news stories offered to subscribers in the AA News Broadcasting System (HAS), and in summarized form. Please contact us for subscription options.