HARARE– Zimbabwe marked its 42nd independence anniversary on Monday with President Emmerson Mnangagwa presiding over the national celebrations in the second largest city of Bulawayo, the first time in the history of the country that such celebrations have been held outside the capital Harare.

Mnangagwa said the main event in Bulawayo, in fulfillment of the government’s decision to decentralize the national celebrations, was historic and extraordinary. 

The celebrations also carried an added significance in that it was the first time since the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic that the nation held a large, physical gathering in Bulawayo and other provinces throughout the country to commemorate Independence Day, Mnangagwa said. 

While forging ahead with efforts to build the nation for common prosperity, Mnangagwa stressed the need for national unity for Zimbabwe to achieve its development goals.

 “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 wholeheartedly serve and work hard for the development and prosperity of our beloved motherland, Zimbabwe,” Mnangagwa said. 

He said in unity, Zimbabwe is rising with no one and no place being left behind as the country marches forward towards its vision of a prosperous and empowered upper-middle-income country by 2030.

Mnangagwa said the country’s independence from Britain in 1980 was achieved through the collective effort by all the people of Zimbabwe, including the gallant heroes and heroines who sacrificed their personal freedoms in order to liberate the country. 

“Let us not grow tired but keep marching forward with joy, great optimism, determination, zeal and focus on unity, peace and freedom. Good times lie ahead and the fruits of our labor will be there for all to enjoy,” Mnangagwa said. 

He said despite various challenges over the past 42 years including sanctions, Zimbabwe had made tremendous progress in many areas of which it is proud.

The country had also learned invaluable lessons from its 42-year journey which will make its actions more targeted for coordinated and balanced development, the president said.

Mnangagwa said more economic production was required and to this end, the Zimbabwean government will remain unwavering in its commitment to creating opportunities in agriculture, mining, manufacturing, tourism, infrastructure, healthcare, education, sciences and information communication technologies, among other sectors.

Zimbabweans at home and abroad, Mnangagwa said, have a sacred obligation and responsibility to help in building the nation, riding on the abundant business and investment prospects in the economy. 

Zimbabwe hoped for an adequate grain harvest this year despite mixed fortunes due to the impact of mid-season drought and recurrent tropical cyclones in some provinces.

Mnangagwa said it was important for Zimbabwe to lay a sound infrastructure base for sustainable socio-economic development, and as such infrastructure development and expansion were being speeded up across all provinces.

The mining sector had immense potential to spur socio-economic development and due to responsive strategies, Zimbabwe was on course to achieving the target of a 12 billion U.S. dollars mining industry by 2023, the president said.

“Recently, our country assumed the Vice Chairmanship of both the Kimberly Process Certification Scheme and the African Diamond Producers Association, subsequently becoming Chair in 2023. These portfolios will be leveraged to achieve maximum value from our diamond mining sector,” Mnangagwa said.

He said the development of rural industrialization is being prioritized, leveraging the various unique resources within communities.

Total exports were projected to grow by 10 percent this year, Mnangagwa said, adding that the number of foreign airlines coming into the country had increased from three in 2017 to 17 in 2022.

Mnangagwa urged the nation to remain alert to the COVID-19 pandemic, adding that in order to protect children from the pandemic, parents and guardians should facilitate the vaccination of children from 12 years and above.

The celebrations ran under the theme: “Zimbabwe @ 42, Leaving No One and No Place Behind.” – Xinhua