By Gracious Madondo
Former Zimbabwe President Mugabe, who resigned last November after almost four decades at the helm of the country, celebrated his 94th birthday last Wednesday, a day declared a public holiday by the current administration.
President Mnangagwa recently gazetted 21 February as the Robert Mugabe National Youth Day in recognition of the former leader’s contribution in promoting and safeguarding the aspiration of youths.
However, for the first time in as many years, 21 February was just a low key day without the public pageantry traditionally associated with the day.
The late former Zanu-PF secretary for youths, Josiah Tungamira, was the one instrumental in making 21st February a youth movement in 1986 where young people from all the country’s provinces used to gather to commemorate the birth of the former leader.
The 21st February Movement was consummated as a way of making youths emulate Mugabe’s revolutionary leadership and selfless policies.
Since 1986, the former president has been the patron of the movement with annual celebrations held in the country’s provinces on a rotating basis.
Persistent pressure from the Zanu-PF youth league for the former president’s birthday to be declared a public holiday finally paid off this year when President Mnagngawa gazetted the day as a public holiday with respect to public officers on November 24 in Statutory Instrument Number 143 of 2017.
Speaking earlier this week at an ideological training seminar at the University of Zimbabwe, Zanu-PF youth league secretary Pupurai Togarepi said youths in the country will mark the day by doing charity work and sharing views on developmental issues.