The Sunday Mail
Kuda Bwititi Chief Reporter
COMMEMORATIONS to mark Heroes Day and Defence Forces Day tomorrow and Tuesday, respectively, will for the first time since 1980 be held with neither public gatherings nor festivities due to rising cases of Covid-19.
Instead, President Mnangagwa will address the nation tomorrow and again on Tuesday, as the Government continues to take precautions to curb the spread of coronavirus.
Heroes Day and Defence Forces Day are two highly regarded national holidays in Zimbabwe, which are held on the second Monday and Tuesday of every August, respectively.
The former is associated with public ceremonies where people gather in different parts of the country to remember and honour the country’s departed heroes and heroines, while the latter is usually characterised by pomp and fanfare to celebrate the heroic works of the defence forces.
However, with the spike in Covid-19 cases, authorities are not taking any chances.
In an interview with The Sunday Mail yesterday, Information, Publicity and Broadcasting Services Minister Monica Mutsvangwa urged the nation to follow the President’s live national address that will be broadcast during the two days.
“As directed by Cabinet, we are not going to have any public events for the Heroes and Defence Forces holidays. The celebrations will instead be held virtually, with the main event being the addresses on both days by His Excellency, the President, to the nation,” she said.
“We urge all citizens of and indeed all Zimbabweans living outside the country to watch or listen to the President’s messages that will touch on a number of issues, including the significance of these days to our nation.”
Minister Mutsvangwa said the Government had made a conscious decision to put aside public events in light of the rocketing Covid-19 cases, which were pegged at 4 451, with 102 coronavirus deaths as at Friday.
“We decided that we need to take maximum precaution to contain the spread of the virus.
“The rate of local transmission is a cause for concern and as Government we cannot take any chances,” she said.
“We are mindful that these holidays cannot be postponed that is why in addition to the President’s address there will be a lot of activities on the national broadcaster, ZBC, to honour our heroes and defence forces.
“This is why we urge people to stay home and commemorate these two days with their families.”
Minister Mutsvangwa said the holidays also give the nation an opportunity to reflect on the progress made by President Mnangagwa’s administration.
“I am very much aware of the negativity that has gripped our people because of the myriad of challenges that we are facing as a country.
“Some people have been quick to judge the Second Republic while ignorant of the many achievements that our President has made. Zimbabweans need to understand that the current challenges are temporary.
“The future looks so much brighter. Recently, the President toured power projects in Hwange where we saw that by 2030 the country will be able to provide over 5000MW of power,” she said.
“Only yesterday (Friday) we saw the progress that is being made on the Beitbridge road, and this is the first time that this has happened after years of failure. Agriculture production is also on the up and mining is heading in the right direction with the US$12 billion 2023 vision on track. So as you can see, these are the things that we need to reflect on as opposed to the negativity that some people tend to give priority to.”
In a statement, the Ministry of Defence and War Veterans said this year’s Defence Forces Day will be held under the theme “The ZDF: Celebrating 40 years of Excellent Service to the People”.
“Since there will be no public gatherings to mark the holiday, the major highlight of this year’s event will be His Excellency, the President and Commander in Chief of the Zimbabwe Defence Forces, Comrade ED Mnangagwa’s address to the nation which will be conducted using virtual platforms.
“On the same day, ZBC-TV will also be airing two documentaries titled ‘ZDF Today’ and the ‘ZDF’s role in the fight against Covid-19’.”
As per tradition, the ZDF has also been conducting its community assistance week by engaging in various voluntary programmes to help the people, albeit under strict Covid-19 prevention guidelines.
The Ministry of Home Affairs and Cultural Heritage said the theme for the 40th anniversary of the Heroes Day commemorations is “Remembering Our Heroes”.
“On this day, we remember the gallant sacrifices made by both living and fallen heroes and heroines in the liberation of our country.
“This year’s Heroes Day commemorations will be held virtually, in line with His Excellency, the President and the Commander in Chief of the Zimbabwe Defence Forces Comrade ED Mnangagwa’s directive.
“The major highlight of this year’s event will be the address by President Mnangagwa.
“ZBC-TV will be airing a number of documentaries which include, ‘Chronicles of the Second Chimurenga’, ‘The Attack on Grand Reef Airbase (in Mutare)’ and ‘The Meaning of the National Heroes Acre to The Liberation Struggle’, among others.”