ZIMBABWEANS yesterday thronged various venues across the country to commemorate Heroes’ Day.
This year’s celebrations were held under the theme; “Lest we forget.”
In Bulawayo, scores of people, including service chiefs, war veterans, senior Government officials and Zanu-PF supporters converged at the Provincial Heroes’ Acre in Nkulumane suburb to pay tribute to the country’s fallen heroes and heroines for their supreme sacrifices.
People started arriving at the venue as early as 7AM and the occasion officially began shortly after 11.30AM with the Zimbabwe National Army (ZNA) brass band leading the crowd in singing the National Anthem.
Bulawayo Provincial Affairs Minister Judith Ncube inspected a quarter guard mounted by the members of ZNA 1 Infantry Brigade.
She read the President’s speech shortly after mid-day.
Minister Ncube laid a wreath on the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier before she was joined by the Commander of ZNA 1 Infantry Brigade, Brigadier-General Josphat Kudumba, the officer commanding police in Bulawayo Metropolitan province, Commissioner Patton Mbangwa and his counterpart from the Zimbabwe Prisons and Correctional Service (ZPCS), Senior Assistant Commissioner Lambet Janah.
Bulawayo provincial chairman of the war veterans, Cde Cephas Ncube, laid the flowers on behalf of the war veterans, war collaborators, ex-detainees and ex-restrictees.
Family members of the heroes and heroines also had an opportunity to lay flowers on the graves of their departed beloved ones.
Some of the relatives of the fallen heroes and heroines who spoke to Chronicle yesterday commended the Government for honouring their loved ones.
“We really appreciate the gesture by our Government for honouring our relatives who died for the liberation of our country. However, sadly most of the graves have no tombstones and we urge the relevant authorities to address this challenge so that there is uniformity,” said Ms Thembile Sodinda whose brother was buried at the provincial shrine in 2000.
Mr Charles Maphosa whose brother Maxwell Maphosa was also buried at the Nkulumane shrine, also commended the efforts by Government. He called on authorities to improve the state of the Provincial Heroes’ Acre.
“I am happy that Government honoured our relatives who contributed to the liberation struggle by creating this shrine. We note that the area needs a perimeter fence to protect it and we are urging the Government to look into that,” he said.
The event was marked by scintillating performances from Bambanani and ZPCS Imbube dance groups which captivated the audience through their well-choreographed dances while the ZNA and Premier High School brass bands captured the mood of the occasion through their soothing music.
Among those who attended the event was Deputy Minister of Industry and Commerce and Bulawayo South MP, Cde Raji Modi, Ambassadors Zenzo Nsimbi and Jerry Ndlovu and Bulawayo Town Clerk, Mr Christopher Dube.
Senior Government officials, war veterans and residents were also part of the gathering.
In Matabeleland North, the Heroes’ Day commemorations were held at the Provincial Heroes’ Acre in Lupane.
Proceedings started at about 11:30AM. Minister of State for Provincial Affairs in Matabeleland North, Cde Richard Moyo, read the President’s speech.
Prior to reading the President’s speech, Cde Moyo commended the people in the province for coming in their numbers to honour the living and departed heroes.
He hailed the people from Lupane East for voting for Zanu-PF in the recently held elections where Cde Mbongeni Dube emerged victorious.
Service chiefs, senior Government officials, politicians from various political parties and community members attended the provincial heroes’ commemorations.
Cde Moyo toured the graves of the fallen heroes and heroines and interacted with their relatives.
He asked them whether they had received Government’s funds that are meant for their families.
In areas where the families were saying they were not getting the funds, he promised to intervene. In Matabeleland South Province scores of people gathered at the provincial shrine located in Gwanda to commemorate Heroes’ Day. Districts in the province also held their commemorations at various locations.
Minister of State for Provincial Affairs, Cde Abednico Ncube read the President’s speech.
After delivering the speech Cde Ncube laid a wreath on the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier followed by other Government officials.
In attendance were service chiefs, heads of government departments and community members. Gwanda Prison inmates, Vumbachikwe Band, Sabiwa Traditional Dance Group, ZNA brass band, local artistes and community members kept the crowd entertained with various performances.
A capacity crowd thronged Masvingo Provincial Heroes’ Acre for the 39th Heroes’ Day celebrations where Minister of State for Provincial Affairs Ezra Chadzamira read President Mnangagwa’s key note speech after inspecting a quarter guard mounted by the 4 Infantry Brigade.
Minister Chadzamira led the Joint Operation Command (JOC) and other senior dignitaries in laying wreaths on the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier.
Later it was time for relatives of departed heroes to lay wreaths on the tombs of their relatives led by Minister Chadzamira and members of the provincial Joint Operation Command who also had an opportunity to talk to heroes’ relatives.
In an interview on the sidelines of the celebrations, war veterans provincial chairman Cde Tendeukai Chinooneka said Heroes’ Day was a befiting honour to the fallen heroes and heroines who sacrificed their lives to liberate the country from bondage by a few white supremacists.
“This is a very important day as it presents people in Masvingo an opportunity to pay homage to cadres who selflessly sacrificed their lives to liberate the country. As a war veteran, this is a very important day for me and I would also want to say to my fellow comrades who are lying here, ‘May you Rest in Peace,’” said Cde Chinooneka.
In Midlands, thousands of people thronged the Midlands Provincial Heroes’ Acre in Gweru and other shrines across the province’s seven districts to commemorate the sacrifices made by fallen heroes to liberate the country.
Minister of State for Midlands Provincial Affairs Larry Mavima read President Mnangagwa’s speech, which was well received by those in attendance.
The proceedings started at 9AM with the singing of the national anthem followed by solidarity speeches from war veterans, collaborators and other groups.
Minister Mavima delivered the speech concurrently with the President.
He also assured the province that Government had adequate food in stock to sustain the province and the nation until the next harvesting period.
Minister Mavima laid a wreath on the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier before touring graves at the heroes’ acre together with the families of the people buried at the provincial shrine.
Also in attendance was Gweru Mayor, Councillor Josiah Makombe.
Clr Makombe said his presence at the shrine represented the entirety of Gweru residents in commemorating the day.
Zimbabwe National Liberation War Veterans’ Association (ZNLWVA) Midlands chairperson Cde Virginia Mpaso said Heroes’ Day should serve as a reminder to every Zimbabwean citizen for the selfless dedication shown by the country’s gallant sons and daughters who lost their lives fighting for freedom.
She said it was incumbent upon Zimbabweans to protect the gains of the revolution and pass on the treasure to forthcoming generations.
“The liberation struggle is engraved in the history of this country. This day reminds us of those who fought to break the enslaving chains and the evil shackles of colonialism. Youths are therefore obliged to be patriotic and jealously guard the gains and interests of the revolution,” she said.
Widows and families of the departed heroes received food hampers from River Valley Properties.