Zimbabwe upbeat ahead of Heroes Day commemorations despite political tensions

Voters in Zimbabwe
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On Monday, Zimbabwe will commemorate Heroes Day. The relatives of those who participated in the armed struggle say the pending constitutional case, in which the MDC is challenging elections results, will not stop them from joining celebrations.

Thousands of Zimbabweans are expected to gather at the country’s national shrine the Heroes Acre in Harare as they celebrate men and women who fought for the liberation of Zimbabwe.

Every year, families of those who sacrificed their lives celebrate their heroic deeds. But the all-important day for this country is happening at a time following Zimbabwe’s historical 2018 elections.

The mood in the country is tense after the opposition the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) Alliance lodged papers at the Constitutional Court challenging the outcome of the poll, putting a halt on the inauguration which was expected to be held on the 12 August.

But in the midst of the political problems, determined family members say they want a better Zimbabwe and will continue to remember their heroes.

“We feel respected by the government. We are so happy to visit this place. It is the day where we are going to see the graves of our late husbands, brothers, sisters and cousins. We feel grateful for this day. We always remember our relatives on such a day. Thank you so much to the government for such an event,” says Pamela Takere who is the widow of Edgar Takere one of the founding members of Zanu-PF.

Other families of those who led the country after independence also share the same sentiments.

“Zimbabwe should never, never again go back. History cannot repeat itself. We want Zimbabwe to remain where it is,” says the widow of the first Foreign Affairs Minister, Eben Magwende.

Some young relatives of Zimbabwe’s heroes also say they are optimistic about the country’s future, despite the political developments.

“Basically, I feel the day gives us a reflection of where we came from, like where we get to celebrate our heroes. The heroes that brought our freedom; the freedoms we enjoy today. In my case, particularly my grandfather, my late grandfather, the late vice president. It has now been what 14, 15 years now, and then last year, we recently lost my grandmother. So, this is the first year without her. I’m coming to just basically be with her. I believe the future is bright. There’s hope for us, the young generation. If we manage to work together; if we manage to look forward, I believe there is a future for Zimbabwe,” says Zenzo Ngcobo, the grandchild of the country’s former Vice President Simon Muzenda.

It is not clear whether former President Robert Mugabe will attend the commemoration.

Sunday Times Bureau Chief in Zimbabwe, Ray Ndlovu says a surprise attendance by Mugabe is unlikely.

“The events of election eve were very straightforward in terms of his support, and how he has turned his back on Zanu-PF and turned his back on the current administration. So, I don’t foresee where he would then attend the celebrations and be part and parcel of grouping. I think it’s very clear in terms of where he stands; what he thinks of them; his views, and it’s now out in the open. It stands to be seen how relations go and proceed from here on.”

On Tuesday, the country will celebrate Defence Forces’ Day and on Wednesday. The Electoral Commission is expected to respond to the MDC Alliance’s court challenge. Mbali Thethani