The Sunday News
Vusumuzi Dube and Bongani Ndlovu, Sunday News Reporters
PRESIDENT Mnangagwa arrived in Bulawayo yesterday ahead of the official opening of the Bulawayo Arts Festival (Baf) and the launch of the Heritage Corridor in the city.
The President will tour the Heritage Corridor in the morning where he is expected to visit the Inxwala Grounds, the Hanging Tree, Dr Joshua Nkomo’s Statue, St Mary’s Basilica, Joshua Nkomo Museum and the Natural History Museum.
In the afternoon, President Mnangagwa will make a keynote address during the Baf Conference at the Large City Hall.
Baf started on Tuesday and will end on Saturday under the theme: “We Own Winter (WOW).”
The festival was birthed after the launch of the National Arts, Culture and Heritage Policy in 2019 by President Mnangagwa during the Cultural and Creative Industries Indaba held at the Bulawayo Rainbow Hotel.
Yesterday, the President landed at the Joshua Mqabuko Nkomo Airport, accompanied by the ministers of Defence Oppah Muchinguri-Kashiri and Women Affairs, Community and Small and Medium Enterprises Development Sithembiso Nyoni.
He was met at the airport by ministers Judith Ncube (Provincial Affairs in Bulawayo Metropolitan Province), July Moyo (Local Government and Public Works), Kazembe Kazembe (Home Affairs and Cultural Heritage), Nqobizitha Mangaliso Ndhlovu (Environment, Climate, Tourism and Hospitality Industry), Owen Ncube (State Security) and the Deputy Minister of Industry and Trade Raj Modi.
In the afternoon before the President’s arrival, the ministers and senior Government officials such as deputy chief secretary, Reverend Paul Bayethe Damasane visited the Inxwala Site and the Hanging Tree to see progress of preparations ahead of President Mnangagwa’s tour today.
The local coordinator of the event, National Arts Council of Zimbabwe executive director Mr Nicholas Moyo said some sites in Bulawayo will be declared as heritage sites.
“The places that the President is going to see, are the Joshua Mqabuko Statue and the memorial museum which is expected to drive traffic there. The President is launching a Heritage Corridor and saying to people lets go and visit these places.
“Some of the places are going to be declared and gazetted as heritage sites. Especially places such as the Hanging Tree and the St Mary’s Basilica; dossiers have been processed and we are happy that Government is gazetting. We are also looking forward to the Inxwala Grounds being declared a heritage site. We are grateful that the city of Bulawayo that all these years they have left this place untouched and making it ready to be declared as a heritage site,” said Mr Moyo.
He said this was in line with the President’s focus on cultural heritage sites around the country.
“The President was very excited because his focus is on cultural heritage places, such as in Pupu-Shangani Memorial site which is a national monument and the declaration of General Mtshana Khumalo as a hero. All those things in the last two years, we have seen things to do with Heritage sites. We have seen recently the erection of the statue of Mbuya Nehanda in Harare. So, the coming in of the President is consistent with the vision to ensure that cultural heritage issues are brought to the fore of our development as a nation, in order to unlock our identity and talk about it, to promote development in terms of who we are, our values and to promote unity and cohesion as a country,” said Mr Moyo.
He said the President’s visit also cemented the relations he built during the arts interface in 2019 in Bulawayo with artistes.
“The genesis is the interface of the President with the arts sector in 2019. Then the birth of Bulawayo Arts Festival brought in the identification of cultural heritage sites in and around Bulawayo, because they are of cultural of significance but above all they are areas that can be developed to become tourist attractions and education,” said Mr Moyo.
The BAF conference will run today and tomorrow.