Low Key Independence Celebrations As Service Chiefs Boycott Tsvangirai

HARARE – THERE was very little activity in the capital city, Harare on Saturday to show that people were celebrating the 29 th anniversary independence celebrations as most people went about their normal business.

There were no incidents of people being forced to attend celebrations at National Sports Stadium as had been the norm in the past. There were also no fears of rowdy party youths wearing either the Movement for Democratic Change, MDC, or Zanu PF T Shirts.

Bottle stores and hotels were almost empty with the few places open, selling goods at reduced prices. One could buy a beer for US$1 but at other places one could get two beers for the same amount in Harare.

However service chiefs were reportedly said to have shunned Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai as he arrived at the national sports stadium, the venue of this year’s independence celebrations.

The Service chiefs who in February boycotted Tsvangirai’s inauguration ceremony as Prime Minister, were said to have moved out of the national sports stadium when the master of ceremony Media Information and Publicity minister Webster Shamu announced the arrival of Tsvangirai ahead of President Robert Mugabe.  

Commander of the defense forces Constantine Chiwenga, Police commissioner General Augustine Chihuri and Prison Commissioner Paraddzai Zimondi moved from their seats at the time Shamu was announcing the arrival of Tsvangirai. They went to stand at the stadium entrance were they waited for President to arrive while Tsvangirai was taking his seat.

The service chiefs last year said they would not salute Tsvangirai even if he was elected the President of the country by the people of Zimbabwe.

Tsvangirai and his deputies Thokozani Khupe and Professor Arthur Mutambara attended the independence ceremony which was held under the theme "Restoring Zimbabwe’s Vibrancy."

 

The MDC had urged Zimbabweans from all walks of life to attend the ceremony which it said was coming amid a climate of new-found hope and better prospects for the country.

The MDC had previously not attended Independence Day celebrations because it said the national day had been privatized and parochialised by unilateral political interests.

"As a country, we waged a painful liberation struggle to bring back our dignity and respect for human rights that had been eroded through a century of colonialism," said the party on the official website of the Prime Minister.

"Our challenge as we celebrate this year’s Independence Day is to look back at the journey we have travelled and begin to carve out a new chapter where we say to ourselves never again should a people be subjected to terror, selective justice, poverty, lawlessness and fear by those that govern them.

This year’s celebrations must rekindle the nation’s hopes and aspirations; especially considering the consummation of the inclusive government in February 2009 which enabled Zimbabweans to open a new chapter of national rebirth.

"Independence means jobs, food, education, shelter, basic freedoms and better health care for everyone. We believe that the direction taken by the political leaders is an important step in the right direction in achieving these fundamentals."

"As a party, we believe this year’s celebrations must reflect the new era of inclusiveness. The Independence Day programme, the speeches and the general arrangements of this important day must reflect a diverse people working together for the betterment of the country of their birth.

The day must reflect the new-found camaraderie among erstwhile political protagonists in a new political atmosphere that engenders hope and prosperity for the people of Zimbabwe. The nation expects to hear speeches from the leaders of the various political parties who have decided to shelve narrow and partisan political interest for the national good.

"We believe the spirit of unilateralism, mischief and stubbornness by some political elements must be a thing of the past. Key institutions such as The Herald and The Zimbabwe Broadcasting Corporation (ZBC) should refrain from being inflammatory.

"In the same vein, we also call for the urgent resolution of  outstanding political hygiene issues which are undermining the health of the inclusive government.. These include the issue of provincial governors, the appointment of ambassadors and permanent secretaries and the unilateral appointment of the Reserve Bank governor and the Attorney-General."