Source: ‘ We’re one people’- Museveni | The Herald April 27, 2019
President Yoweri Museveni has said Ugandans and Zimbabweans are one people, saluting the latter for remaining in charge of their country 39 years after attaining independence, despite economic setbacks. The visiting Head of State, who was guest of honour at the official opening of the 60th edition of the Zimbabwe International Trade Fair (ZITF) here yesterday, went down memory lane as he recalled how Zimbabwe waged a protracted liberation struggle that brought independence in 1980.
Cde Museveni exhibited deep knowledge of the country’s history and revealed how he worked with Zanu-PF and former ZAPU cadres, alongside other revolutionary movements in the Southern African region to intensify liberation war efforts against colonialism.
He paid tribute to President Mnangagwa for inviting him to officiate at ZITF, saying this year’s prime trade showcase was a special anniversary for his earlier visit in 1989 when he was also guest of honour at the same event.
“I was here in 1989, exactly 30 years ago, so it’s an anniversary for being here,” said President Museveni.
“I am not a stranger to Zimbabwe, I have worked with Zanu-PF and other liberation movements in Dar es Salaam, Frelimo, ANC, MPLA, PSC, ZAPU in the 1960s and indeed in 1968 with the group of students some of whom were coming from Zimbabwe.
“I want to salute the people of Zimbabwe for their struggle. The struggle here was not easy.”
President Museveni said his country suffered a similar fate.
He explained how imperialist Europe had gone as far as dividing Africa into two, with some parts designated as protectorates while some were viewed as permanent settler colonies.
“There are parts of Africa where the colonialists did not want to stay forever and these were designated as protectorates,” said President Museveni.
“Uganda was a protectorate, of course the protection was not welcome, but that’s what they said.
“But there were other countries like Zimbabwe, Kenya and South Africa where they said ‘these are colonies’ where the Europeans will never leave.”
President Museveni recalled how the late Rhodesian Prime Minister Ian Douglas Smith said blacks were not going to rule Zimbabwe, not even in a thousand years.
“I hope those who are old enough will remember that statement,” he said.
“With my little mathematics, it is not a thousand years since that statement, but Smith is not here.
“This was all due to the fight for freedom by the people of Zimbabwe. There have been some attacks, which l was following in 1967. There was some incursion here by some of the groups and then there was another in Wankie. But the one that turned out to be sustained was at the end of 1972.
“I was also busy in Uganda doing some work underground, then I heard on BBC that the freedom fighters had been taken from Tete Province in Mozambique and had entered eastern Zimbabwe.”
President Museveni paid tribute to the former freedom fighters in the country for their brave stand, saying it was their sacrifice and commitment that made it possible for the African people to regain their freedom.
For that reason, he said, in 1980, he came to Zimbabwe as a minister representing Uganda to celebrate with Zimbabweans and attended victory festivities at Rufaro Stadium in Harare.
“I was there when the Union Jack (British flag) was being lowered and the Zimbabwe one was being raised,” he said. “From that time, you have had a lot of challenges, but l want to congratulate you, that you have gone through those challenges and that you are here in charge of your country.”