Zimbabwean President Emmerson Mnangagwa preached peace and unity as the country commemorated 42 years of independence.

By Jeffrey Muvundusi and Rutendo Ngara

ZIMBABWEAN President Emmerson Mnangagwa says national unity, peace and harmony remain key catalysts for the country’s economic development.

Addressing thousands of people who gathered at Barbourfields Stadium in Bulawayo yesterday to celebrate Independence Day, Mnangagwa also said it was important to deal with divisive elements in society.

“As we celebrate 42 years of our country’s independence, let us never allow divisive tendencies, greed and the pursuit of unpatriotic self-centered political gains to weaken our bond of unity, peace, love and harmony.

“Individually and collectively, we have a duty to whole-heartedly serve and work hard for the development and prosperity of our beloved motherland, Zimbabwe.

“Let us not grow tired but keep marching forward with joy, great optimism, determination, zeal and focus in unity, peace and freedom,” Mnangagwa said, as the main independence bash was being held outside Harare for the first time since 1980.

“Good times lie ahead and the fruits of our labour will be there for all to enjoy.

“As a diverse but one nation that is united under one national flag, we re-affirm and reinforce our unity, love and harmony for one another and for our great country.

“We refuse to be divided. The cords that bind us are much stronger than any differences which we may ever encounter,” Mnangagwa added.

He also praised Zimbabweans living in the diaspora for their contribution to the country’s economic development, while reiterating his government’s commitment to facilitating their investments in all sectors of the economy.

And in an apparent reference to the growing resentment of Zimbabweans abroad, especially in South Africa, Mnangagwa said Zimbabwe remained the home of all citizens and they would always be welcome in the country.

“In the meantime, I urge our citizens in the diaspora to remain resolute in spite of the many challenging circumstances they may face in their host countries.

“As your president, rest assured that our arms as your fellow countrymen and women remain out-stretched to welcome you back to our free, independent land of opportunities and sovereign home, Zimbabwe,” he said.

This comes amid growing concerns about rising Afrophobia and xenophobic attacks in neighbouring South Africa.

It also comes as Zimbabwean Elvis Nyathi — who was slain by thugs in Diepsloot township, just outside Johannesburg — was buried at an emotionally-charged wake in Bulawayo on Saturday.

Bulawayo Provincial Affairs minister, Judith Ncube, revealed at Nyathi’s burial that his death had pained Zimbabweans, including Mnangagwa, whom she said had been left speechless.

“I remember in Zimbabwe around the ’80s there were issues of violence, especially in Matabeleland. If we had no visionary leader like Joshua Nkomo (the late revered vice president), the whole country would have gone into a civil war.

“Now that this country has gained independence, let us put our heads together for the betterment of the nation.

“The death of Nyathi was very painful. When we told President Mnangagwa he was speechless and failed to say anything. He agreed and allowed a State sponsored funeral (for Nyathi),” Ncube said then.

Meanwhile, South African President Cyril Ramaphosa has expressed his regret for the death of Nyathi.

“We regret the loss of life of a Zimbabwean and I am also pleased that the police, together with the minister, have been on the ground and have been stabilising the situation and there are investigations now under way.

“Of course we deplore any action that is taken against anyone to a point where they are killed,” he said.

During yesterday’s Barbourfields address, Mnangagwa said the government was working hard to develop the economy and attain Zimbabwe’s vision of a prosperous and empowered upper middle income country by 2030.

He said this was despite encountering obstacles and difficulties such as the economic sanctions that were imposed by Western countries.

Meanwhile, the opposition yesterday graced the independence celebrations in Bulawayo, departing from their previous boycotts of national events.

Among those who were in the bumper crowd were opposition leader Douglas Mwonzora, Citizens Coalition for Change (CCC) interim secretary general Chalton Hwende and National Constitutional Assembly (NCA) leader Lovemore Madhuku.

MDC spokesperson Witness Dube said his party would participate in all national events going forward.

“We are going to attend all non-partisan events and this doesn’t mean we are endorsing each other. We may differ politically but national events are meant for everyone to celebrate,” he told the Daily News.

CCC national spokesperson, Fadzayi Mahere, said there was need for unanimity on national events regardless of divergent political events.

She added that her party acknowledged the effort and sacrifices of liberation heroes who contributed to the attainment of independence.

“Whereas  there are political  differences  there is  no debate about our honour  respect and acknowledgement  of all national institutions ….independence  day belongs  to us all as Zimbabweans  citizens.

“We encourage all citizens to participate in such national processes and events  without tainting them with partisan  conduct,” Mahere said.

However, ZAPU said although they recognised the importance of the Independence Day, they did not celebrate the day.

ZAPU spokesperson Msongelwa Ndlov, also said the sacrifices made by nationalists like Nikita Mangena, Lookout Masuku, Josiah Tongogara and others deserved to be commemorated.

“We commemorate the day because of the ink that inscribes it … However, we do not celebrate the day because those presiding over our state have hijacked the revolution and commercialised it for personal and family benefit,” he said.

Yesterday’s celebrations attracted a bumper crowd, forcing many who couldn’t find seats at Barbourfields Stadium to follow the proceedings from a big screen outside the venue. – Daily News