Mugabe birthday holiday misnamed

Mugabe birthday holiday misnamed
Published: 22 February 2018 (357 Views)
The reaffirming by government recently that the 21st of February is the Robert Mugabe National Youth day has sparked mixed reactions from a cross section of society.

Robert Mugabe was removed from power by the military in a move dubbed 'Operation Restore Legacy' which resonates more with the desire to restore the political and economic integrity of a nation with over 85 percent youth unemployment rate. For the first time in 37 years, ZBC TV aired events other than Mugabe's birthday celebrations. On 21st ZBC TV screened live National Railways of Zimbabwe launch of a new passenger train and President Emmerson Mnangagwa graced the event.

 In an interview with the press, youths in Harare said the youths have little to celebrate from his governance that ruined the economy and rendered the productive populace including graduates turned destitute and vendors.

"The holiday is named Robert Mugabe National Youth day...What did Mugabe do for the youths? Even in his youthful days did he do anything outstanding for the youth? Has he sought to promote the youth in anyway, did he subscribe to giving youth better recognition? All these questions have a no answer...it is a misnamed holiday given some veneer of legitimacy with the national youth day.

 "The fact that the government proclaimed the holiday via a statutory declaration on 24 November shows President Mnangagwa is keen on upholding the Mugabe legacy", Pascal Kunyeda, Great Zimbabwe University (GZU) journalism and Media study student said.

A Kuwadzana youth Privildge Nyamayaro said, the holiday should have been named Mugabe day, not Robert Mugabe National Youth Day.

"I am confused they call it a youth day yet they are talking about someone's illustrious work it does not make sense though ,anyhow I do not see anything to be hyped up about the day, check out the position of the youths themselves in the country", he said.

Farai Mugaviri IT student at the National University of Science and Technology said although some would like the former president to be remembered as a revolutionary icon who was a pan African revolutionist who advocated for black empowerment and have always wanted empowerment policies to benefit the youths. A stock take of his policies will reveal that his politics of patronage benefited those in the Zanu PF party especially those who supported his style of governance that disempowered many youths and benefited a few in government.

"Former president is arguably one of the most hated people in the history of the country. Hearing people speak, his reign, his legacy is more on the negative than positive. Do we need a youth day? Yes, on his birthday? No.

 "There is need for a better criterion, other than just Zanu Pf people just choosing it. If they just want to make it a public holiday, they need to leave the youth out of it", Mugaviri said.

The general perception is that the Robert Mugabe National Youth Day should serve the interest of the youth giving them a platform to consider their position in the political, social and economic history of the nation. The holiday may not be imposed to serve patronage interest or to create an opportunity during this campaigning period.

However some youths argued that people need to applaud Former president Cde Robert Mugabe's contribution to the liberation as well as to this nation at large.

"I think 21st of February it is just a day that we should celebrate, despite his mistakes. Robert Mugabe was and still is a pillar of our democracy. It is important to have the day though at least we know we exist somewhere within the crowd.

"What is so disappointing about the youth themselves is that they are not being innovative, crying out about jobs yet tertiary institutions aim at providing relevant skills someone has to use in his or her career. These days should empower themselves not rely on handouts," Shamiso Mutero a youth from Harare added.

The day was previously commemorated as the 21st February Movement by the party in celebration of the "principles and ideas" of the former president. However government on 24 November 2017 published statutory instrument 141 of 2017 which proclaimed every 21st of February as a public holiday under the public Holidays and Prohibition of Business act.


- Trevor Sagota in Harare

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