Bongani Ndlovu Bulawayo Bureau
COVID-19 tests will not be required from vaccinated ordinary people wishing to attend Independence Day main celebrations to be held at Barbourfields Stadium in Bulawayo on 18 April.
Only those in the VIP and the VVIP area should be tested, while the general public should only produce proof of vaccination at entrances.
Eighteen artistes will perform at the Independence Gala at the main venue’s B arena and these include artistes mostly from Matabeleland region.
These are some of the outcomes of an Inter-Ministerial Committee on State Occasions meeting that was held yesterday in Bulawayo as part of preparations for this year’s 42nd celebrations.
President Mnangagwa will lead the prime proceedings, to be held outside Harare for the first time since 1980 under the theme: “Zimbabwe at 42: Leaving no one behind.”
This year’s theme dovetails with the Second Republic’s drive towards promotion of national unity, devolution and decentralisation.
Chairing the meetings was Local Government and Public Works Minister July Moyo, on behalf of the chairperson of the Cabinet Committee on State Occasions, Vice President Constantino Chiwenga.
Other ministers present were, Minister of Information Publicity and Broadcasting Services, Senator Monica Mutsvangwa, Home Affairs and Cultural Heritage Minister, Kazembe Kazembe, Minister of Higher and Tertiary Education, Science and Technology Development, Professor Amon Murwira, Minister of Primary and Secondary Education, Dr Evelyn Ndlovu, Bulawayo Minister for Provincial Affairs and Devolution Judith Ncube and Deputy Minister of Environment, Climate, Tourism and Hospitality Industry, Barbara Rwodzi.
Among artistes scheduled to provide entertainment are; Jeys Marabini (Afro Jazz), Madlela Skhobokhobo (Rhumba), Sandra Ndebele (Afro Pop), Chase Skuza (Rhumba), Prudence Mabhena (Afro Fusion), Mani9ne (Zimdancehall), Iyasa (Afro Dance), Mthokozisi Sidubweli (Poet) and LMG (Chimurenga/Umvukela).
Others include Zimdancehall duo Fantan & Levels, Andy Muridzo (Afro Fusion), Sulumani Chimbetu (Dendera), Chief Wenje (Chimurenga/Umvukela), Agatha Murudzwa (Gospel), Bruce Machingura (Chimurenga/Umvukela), Herman (Urban Grooves), Greatman (Sungura) and Mainato (Chimurenga/Umvukela).
In the afternoon, during the Independence Day Celebrations, Songs of Lozikeyi, which blew away delegates at the Dubai Expo last month, will take the stage along with Sandra Ndebele and Jeys Marabini.
In his opening remarks to the meeting earlier, Minister Moyo said there was no need for people to be tested for Covid-19, save for those who will be in the VIP and VVIP enclosure.
“Those who will be coming to the stadium must be people who have been vaccinated so that we protect ourselves from the scourge that is still with us up till today,” he said.
“Except for those who’ll be going to State House for the State reception and the children who will be going to State House, and those of you who will be sitting around the VVIP and VIP areas, the rest don’t need to be tested as has been pleaded by colleagues, who thought that it will create a bottleneck for people to come into the stadium.”
Minister Moyo said this was an opportunity to boost the country’s on-going vaccination programme.
“Let’s take this opportunity also as we mobilise people for the independence celebrations to mop up the vaccination that we need,” he said.
“I know that Bulawayo is leading in the number of people who have been vaccinated, but that’s not enough. Let’s continue to encourage people to be vaccinated so that they don’t miss the big game that is going to take place between Highlanders and Dynamos. That big game will be a crowd puller but we want to come out of the celebrations with our health intact,” said Minister Moyo.
He said on Sunday, April 17, Zimbabwe football giants Highlanders and Dynamos will hold a joint road show around the city to show unity and that independence is for all Zimbabweans.
Minister Moyo said the children’s party will be held at the State house on April 17 and 1 050 children from across Zimbabwe are expected to attend.
“Last time we were here, we toured around, all of us, and we went to three places; the Hockey Stadium and two at the ZITF Centre. The few of us who remained behind then made a third tour to another place, for which we thought it was better,” he said.
“Last year’s children’s party under virtual conditions was held at State house in Harare. His Excellency the President and Cabinet has accepted that the children’s party is going to be held at State House in Bulawayo.
“We were wrangling with figures of 550, or 1090, we can confirm that the children’s party will be 1050. That is the major change,” said Minister Moyo.
After the meeting, Minister Mutsvangwa said Covid-19 protocols will be adhered to during the celebrations.
“We are encouraging people to be vaccinated and also to be wearing their masks as they come to the venue.
“We will make sure of all the protocols such as sanitising their hands and temperature checks. But we want all Zimbabweans to enjoy this day,” she said.
“There is a lot of excitement especially in the Matabeleland region that after 42 years the independence celebrations have moved to Bulawayo. This is the beginning of devolution and decentralisation in the spirit of inclusiveness, devolution and decentralisation.
“This is the second time that the Cabinet Committee is meeting right here in Bulawayo to go through all the preparations. We want to make sure that we don’t leave any stone unturned.”
Sen Mutsvangwa said the committee has consulted with the Ministry of Energy and Power Development to make sure that there are no power outages during the celebrations.
She added that the Ministry of Transport and Infrastructural Development will ensure that the road from Khami Ruins, where the independence torch will be lit by a grouping of yet to be chosen chiefs, is spruced up so that those who want to follow proceedings from there can do so.
Minister Mutsvangwa also encouraged Zimbabweans to stay awake for the fireworks display at midnight April 17, the eve of the country’s independence.
The Inter-Ministerial Committee on State Occasions toured venues around Bulawayo, such as The Natural History Museum, Khami Ruins and Barbourfields Stadium.
On the independence eve, a group of chiefs will light up the torch at Khami Ruins, which will be taken to the Natural History Museum in Bulawayo.
The next day, another procession will be held and this time the torch will move through the city centre, through Makokoba, then Mzilikazi and finally to Barbourfields Stadium. There President Mnangagwa will light the Independence flame as per tradition.
At Barbourfields stadium the committee was satisfied with the progress made to the structural adjustments to accommodate VIP and VVIP delegates and general sprucing up of the main venue.
An army band was also busy with rehearsals while Highlanders FC, who will lock horns with fellow giants, Dynamos for the Independence Trophy, were busy with training.
Coach Mandla Mpofu, his assistants Joel Luphahla and Bekithemba Ndlovu were planning the downfall of Cranebone Bullets FC in a Premier Soccer League match tomorrow at the venue.