State Media|THE iconic Barbourfields Stadium in Bulawayo will play host to the 40th Independence celebrations next month, the first time since 1980 that the main programme is being held outside the capital, Harare.
Preparations for the historic celebrations are already at an advanced stage with various committees set up to make sure the celebrations are a success.
In an interview yesterday, Bulawayo provincial coordinator Mrs Khonzani Ncube said Barbourfields was selected because it can accommodate many people that include visitors from the other nine provinces.
“We have started preparations for the celebrations for the main Independence Day celebrations that will be held in Bulawayo and for the first-time outside Harare. The committees are working flat out to make sure that the celebrations are a success. We have included an additional committee to deal with accommodation to cater for visitors from outside Bulawayo,” said Mrs Ncube.
“We settled for Barbourfields because it has a bigger capacity compared to White City Stadium and again, we considered the catchment from Makokoba, Mzilikazi, Nguboyenja suburbs among others close to the stadium.”
Mrs Ncube said residents living far from Barbourfields would be provided with transport to the venue and back.
“We are also expecting visitors from the other nine provinces who are coming to join us in celebrating this milestone. Bulawayo is known for its hospitality and we will pull all stops to make sure that everyone feels welcome,” she said.
“We are greatly honoured to be the first province to host the celebrations out of Harare, it doesn’t put any pressure on us but it is an inspiration for us hence we want to make the celebrations historic and memorable.”
Matabeleland North Provincial Affairs Minister Richard Moyo said they will provide transport to those living close to Bulawayo.
“We will be holding our own provincial celebrations but will assist those who live in areas close to Bulawayo like parts of Umguza district with transport so that they join others in Bulawayo for the celebrations,” he said.
The Matabeleland South provincial coordinator, Ms Thandiwe Ncube, yesterday said they will hold a meeting today to discuss modalities.
The Government last year resolved to rotate among provinces the holding of the main programme of the Independence Day celebrations that had since 1980 been held in Harare in a move to further promote unity and inclusivity.
Speaking during a meeting with civil society organisations from Matabeleland region at State House in Bulawayo last month, President Mnangagwa said this year’s main Independence Day celebrations will be held in Bulawayo for the first time in recognition of the role the city played in the liberation war history.
“We have already made a decision that beginning this year we will be holding our National Independence Day celebrations outside the City of Harare. For 39 years, independence main celebrations were held in Harare but I realised that Independence is not for Hararians. As a result of that we have now chosen to celebrate our 40th year of independence in the City of Bulawayo,” he said.
“The nationalism of this country was here, the likes of Burombo (Benjamin) were from here.
“Furthermore, Bulawayo is the second largest city in our country. I’m counting on all stakeholders in Bulawayo and the greater Matabeleland region to ensure that our 40th Independence Day celebrations are historic and a memorable success.”