Mashudu Netsianda in Gwanda
TRUE to its symbolic name, Matabeleland South, which has been dubbed the “Rainbow” province yesterday proved to be worth its name, as thousands of people from diversified ethnicity and cultures thronged Pelandaba Stadium in Gwanda to witness the sixth Presidential Youth Interface Rally.
The venue of the rally reverberated with cheers and song as President Mugabe arrived shortly after 2pm. He was subsequently driven around the packed stadium in a police open truck. The President waved at the cheerful crowd, which had been eagerly waiting for his arrival as they shouted “Gushungo, Gushungo, Gushungo.”
Traffic jams were the order of the day with euphoric youths blowing horns in apparent excitement as they drove through the streets of the usually quiet Matabeleland South provincial capital. Delegates were drawn from the province’s seven districts of Matobo, Beitbridge, Gwanda, Umzingwane, Insiza, Bulilima and Mangwe. Some of the delegates mainly youths said they travelled from far areas such as Dombodema in Bulilima and Beitbridge as they could not miss the chance to interact with the party’s First Secretary President Mugabe.
The Deputy Minister of Women Affairs, Gender and Community Development, Cde Abigail Damasane joined the police band and mesmerised the crowd with her well choreographed dances. The band kept guests on their toes as it belted out familiar liberation songs, which captured the mood of the Heroes’ Day which the country will commemorate tomorrow.
President Mugabe, in his address, was equally amazed at the huge gathering. He applauded the leadership in the province for successfully hosting the sixth Presidential Youth Interface Rally. Despite what President Mugabe described as a “hard geographical struggle” in terms of organising the rally, the event went on well.
President Mugabe commended the people of Matabeleland South for being united, urging them to follow in the footsteps of the late Vice-President Joshua Mqabuko Nkomo who came from the province’s Matobo District. He passionately spoke about the province, reminiscing the days of the liberation struggle when he worked with the then youthful Dr Dumiso Dabengwa, the late national heroes Cdes Jason Ziyapapa Moyo and Sikhwili Khohli Moyo. Dr Dabengwa is from Matabeleland South, so were the two late national heroes.
“Matabeleland South has a long history of supporting the liberation struggle and the party. This is a clear sign that the spirit of late Vice-President Joshua Mqabuko Nkomo is still in us…” said President Mugabe.
Matabeleland South is also home to other late national heroes such as Cdes Naison Khutshwekhaya Ndlovu, Stephen Jeqe
Nkomo, Lookout Masuku, George Silundika, Sydney Malunga, Enos Nkala and Mark Dube, among others. Other late nationalists who also came from the province were Cdes Boysen Mguni and Vote Moyo.
Zanu-PF Matabeleland South chairman Cde Rabelani Choeni said due to logistical challenges some people failed to make it.
“The event was well organised and I must say we are a bit worried because some people could not make it because of transport problems and lack of communication. Our province is the rainbow of the country because of the many languages and cultures,” he said.
As the President waved the youths good bye after a speech that was laden with wise words, one could not mistake the smiles on many people’s faces as they digested the day’s events.
“I wish we could host the President every month, anywhere given a chance I will be back in December during the Conference to witness this spectacle again. Zanu-PF is strong,” these were the words of 24 year- old Lameck Sibanda who said he travelled from Insiza for the Interface Rally. After the official programme, Gwanda residents watched in amazement as cars meandered from the stadium into the town centre. @mashnets