Bulawayo residents have expressed mixed feelings over former President Robert Mugabe’s birthday, which has been declared a public holiday, which was celebrated on Wednesday, with some describing it as inconsequential to future generations, given the former leaders’ failure to address the youth’s concerns during his tenure.
BY SHARON SIBINDI/ ALEXIS SIBANDA
Residents said the day was an insult to the youth, as Mugabe neglected them, adding that celebrating his birthday would not bring food to their tables.
“It’s an insult to the youth. We cannot be made to celebrate the birthday of a man who stole our future in his entire reign. To actually declare his birthday a youth holiday is an insult of the highest degree. What is there to celebrate for the youth? Unemployment and all the challenges that punctuate the everyday lives of young people?” Ndumiso Sibanda, a youth activist said.
“The holiday is of no benefit to us as youth. There is no heroism in a man, who spent millions of dollars year in, year out on lavish parties against the background of a decaying economy.”
Nicholas Ncube said he was actually shocked that the day was declared a holiday.
“People do not know that it is a youth day and what are the youth doing? Why is it called youth day? I thought there would be youth activities throughout the country, but nothing happened,” he said.
“Instead of having youth day, the President came to commission the new railway wagons, which has nothing to do with the youth.”
Rawlings Zenasi said the holiday was an opportunity for young people to learn more about their icon, Mugabe.
“It’s actually a great day, we as youth, we get to know about our icon Mugabe, who fought for us. We are born frees because of him and we need to embrace the day,” he said.
“We expect the government embark on awareness campaigns for the youth, on drug abuse and many more in every province and rotating these campaigns each year like what was happening during the birthday of Mugabe.”
Thando Gwinji, managing director for the Youth for Innovation Trust, said a lot of youth said they were not celebrating the day, as it is the former President’s day.
“As an organisation, we acknowledge the day although the youth said they are not celebrating it as it is the former President’s birthday. We are still trying to find our space as the youth since this is the first youth day. We appreciate Mugabe for leading the youth,” she said.
February 21, Mugabe’s birthday, was declared Robert Mugabe Youth Day, and was first commemorated this year.