Huge crowds, brilliant displays as Zimbabwe celebrates Defence Forces Day 

Source: Huge crowds, brilliant displays as Zimbabwe celebrates Defence Forces Day | The Chronicle

Huge crowds, brilliant displays as Zimbabwe celebrates Defence Forces Day

Chronicle Writers

HUGE crowds yesterday thronged various stadia around the country to celebrate the 43rd Zimbabwe Defence Forces (ZDF) Day, which was punctuated by scintillating military displays.

This year’s celebrations were held under the theme: “Brick by Brick, Stone upon Stone- Zimbabwe Defence Forces: Creating a Conducive Environment for the Attainment of Vision 2030”.

The commemorations are held annually to honour the Defence Forces for their unwavering role in the defence of the national flag as well as several community help assignments such as disaster mitigation. President Mnangagwa, who is also the Commander-in-Chief of the ZDF), presided over the main ZDF Day celebrations at the National Sports Stadium in Harare while Ministers of State for Provincial Affairs and Devolution officiated at provincial celebrations.

In Bulawayo, thousands of people from in and around the metropolitan province gathered at White City Stadium to join the rest of the country in celebrating the day.

Bulawayo Provincial Affairs and Devolution Minister Judith Ncube inspected the guard of honour before reading the President’s speech.
Minister Ncube also presented nine war collaborators with Presidential Independence Bronze Medals for the role they played during the liberation struggle.

Cde Herbert Gapare (59), a recipient of the bronze medal, said he felt honoured with the gesture and could not hide his joy as he received the award.
“I am part of the Mjiba and Chimbwido association. I worked in Masvingo during the liberation struggle and I was under ZANLA forces. I am happy that the President appreciates our efforts during the liberation struggle,” he said.

Cde Gapare said their main role during the liberation war was to facilitate a smooth movement of guerillas from one point to the other. He said they also acted as spies who gathered information on the whereabouts of the enemy forces and passed it on to liberation fighters.

Another recipient, Cde Ruth Thakaza said: “I am happy to be honoured by President Mnangagwa and this means a lot to me as it is a reflection of recognition for my contribution in the liberation struggle.”

White City Stadium was teeming with people from all walks of life who braved the chilly weather to witness the ZDF celebrations which were punctuated by thrilling military drills by the Zimbabwe National Army (ZNA)’s One Infantry Brigade and Premier High School brass band.

By 8am, scores of people had already gathered at the venue.

Among the special guests were Finance and Economic Development Minister Professor Mthuli Ncube, Industry and Commerce Deputy Minister Raj Modi and service chiefs.Proceedings started with the singing of the National Anthem before Minister Ncube inspected the guard of honour mounted by members of the ZNA One Infantry Brigade.

In the Midlands, scores of people from across the province thronged Mkoba Stadium for the Defence Force Day celebrations. The gathering which included children as schols are closed, was treated to drills and displays by the uniformed forces.

The proceedings started at 11am when Midlands Provincial Affairs and Devolution Minister Larry Mavima arrived at the venue.
Minister Mavima who was the reviewing officer, inspected a military parade followed by the slow and quick march by members of the ZNA and the Air Force of Zimbabwe which mounted three detachments.

Minister Mavima read the President’s speech at around midday.

A local prominent miner, Cde Marufu Sithole who was part of the people gathered for the celebrations commended the dedication of the country’s uniformed forces and their commitment to protecting national sovereignty and upholding peace in the country.

“I am involved in mining and many families are benefiting from that and it was not going to be possible if we didn’t have a dedicated and committed Defence Force. We owe it to them and therefore there is a need to celebrate this day with them,” he said.

Minister Mavima also presented nine non-combatant cadres and war collaborators with Presidential Independence Bronze medals for the role they played during the liberation struggle.

Cde Medury Chitsungo (61), a recipient of the medal, said she was forced to join the liberation struggle in 1977.
This was after the Rhodesian government shut down her school among others in Mberengwa district.

“I was forced to join the gallant sons and daughters who were determined to join the liberation struggle to free the country from colonialism after my school, Masase Secondary in Mberengwa was shut down by the Ian Smith regime in 1977,” she said.

Cde Chitsungo made two attempts to cross the border into Mozambique to join liberation fighters but was told to work from home looking after freedom fighters.

“I was one of the war collaborators who worked during the armed struggle while operating in Mberengwa from 1977 until 1979. I was in the Chizungu area and we used to look after the freedom fighters by cooking food for them and washing their clothes,” she said.

“We would also take the clothes and food to them at bases in the Mahlebadza and Mutevaidzi areas in Mberengwa.”
Cde Chitsungo said they were first oriented hence they knew why they were participating in the liberation struggle.

“Remember we were not allowed to travel at night by the Ian Smith regime but that was the time we would travel to cater for the needs of the freedom fighters,” she said.

Cde Chitsungo said she never imagined that one day she would be honoured by the President for the role she played during the liberation struggle.
“I feel highly honoured by the gesture from the Second Republic under the leadership of President Mnangagwa,” she said.

Others who received the priceless medals were Cdes George Hungwe, Ndolisia Ncube, Clever Masarakufa, Joseph Nyikadzino, Kushupika Maramba, Simbarashe Davira, David Chiondegwa and Chapupu Duve.

In Matabeleland North, scores of people from across the province gathered at Somhlolo Stadium in Lupane to celebrate the day.
People drawn from all seven districts in the province started arriving at the venue as early as 8am.

Matabeleland North Provincial Affairs and Devolution Minister Richard Moyo presided over the celebrations and read President Mnangagwa’s speech after inspecting a guard of honour mounted by the Hwange-based 1.2 Infantry Battalion.

Among those who attended the event were heads of various Government departments, service chiefs, Zanu-PF leadership, Chief Menyezwa of Lupane.

Entertainment was provided by a local poet Jonathan Moyo better known as Umntakagogo and a local traditional dance group, Imbube.
In the afternoon there was a soccer match between Lupane City and ZDF Select and a netball match pitting local teams.

In Matabeleland South, the day was celebrated at Phelandaba Stadium in Gwanda where scores of residents gathered in recognition of the contributions made by the ZDF.

The proceedings started with members of the ZDF marching through the streets of the provincial capital to the stadium. This was followed by the arrival of the service chiefs.

Matabeleland South Provincial Affairs and Devolution Minister Abedinico Ncube arrived at the venue at 11am marking the commencement of the proceedings.

Minister Ncube inspected the parade. The ZDF troops kept the crowds mesmerised by their military drills and Minister Ncube later read President Mnangagwa’s speech.