BY MOSES MATENGA
ZANU PF youths yesterday ignored the late former party leader Robert Mugabe during commemorations of the National Youth Day, a brainchild of the 21st February Movement.
Instead, ruling party youths yesterday chose to shower praises on President Emmerson Mnangagwa for implementing “youth-friendly policies”.
The day was officially declared a public holiday during the same month Mugabe was toppled by Mnangagwa in 2017 through a military coup.
Mugabe’s loyalists had since 1986 used the occasion to rever him, as it coincided with his birthday.
In his statement to mark the day, Zanu PF acting secretary for youth affairs, Tendai Chirau said: “Most importantly, it is the day we acknowledge the involvement of the youths in the rebuilding of this nation, and we appreciate what President Mnangagwa has done under the new dispensation, where we have a number of youths that were appointed as ministers and deputy ministers and also a number that are also MPs, as well as one permanent secretary.
“If it were not for COVID-19, we were going to sit with authorities and government officials to deliberate and celebrate the gains we have achieved in as far as youth involvement and participating in the political and economic spheres are concerned.”
Chirau said the National Youth Day was a day for the youth to look at the economic opportunities available for them, including issues to do with access to land.
He said the youths were looking forward to the government to finish its land audit, in order for them to benefit from the land that was lying idle and which is in the hands of multiple farm owners.
Exiled former Zanu PF political commissar and a strong Mugabe ally, Saviour Kasukuwere, paid tribute to the former leader and said it was sad that his former erstwhile comrades had chosen to ignore his legacy.
“Who fights a person from the grave?” Kasukuwere asked rhetorically. “Even if you ignore it, it doesn’t mean we will forget him. His achievements celebrate themselves.
“He shaped the policies on young people and their empowerment and it was for the empowerment of the majority of the people. Today, we have young people in farming and in mining because of his stance and we agreed in government to honour the man and what he is known for and those who are failing to do that and are ignoring his legacy should have opposed that, but they did not do that when the day is on the calendar and was declared a national holiday.”
Former Zanu PF provincial chairperson for Mashonaland West, who is now Norton MP, Temba Mliswa (Independent), said: “Today, we remember the birth of a great leader — like him or hate him, but you couldn’t ignore the late RG Mugabe. I’ll always be grateful for the courage he gave me to stand firm for what I believed in as a young, black man. He was an inspiration. Gone, but not forgotten.”
Mugabe’s family has been quiet since the toppling of the former strongman, choosing to privately honour the former leader from the confines of their Blue Roof mansion.
Government, through Youth, Arts, Sports and Culture minister Kirsty Coventry, yesterday said the day was to celebrate contributions by the
“The 21st February is a National Youth Day. The day was proclaimed and instituted by the government in 2017 in order for the nation to recognise and celebrate the contributions made by the youth throughout the history of the country as well as for the young people to recognise and emulate the leadership values,” she said.