Addressing thousands of Zimbabweans who thronged the National Sports Stadium Wednesday to mark the country’s 32nd independence celebrations, Mugabe said: “All violence, all fights, all struggles that are of a violent nature, they should not be allowed to interfere with the happiness of our groupings, no.”
“When we look back, we say to ourselves, we have done wrong to ourselves because we have been violent amongst ourselves. We were fighting.”
“It is now in our political organisations that we must take absolute care and caution and ensure that the fights of yesterday are buried in the past and that we must organise ourselves on the basis of free belonging, free choice of membership,” he said.
“Membership is not forced, should never be forced. People must freely belong to their own choice and freely vote for a party of their own choice,” he said.
Mugabe said the West should stop meddling in the country’s domestic affairs through the imposition of “illegal economic sanctions”. He attributed Zimbabwe’s economic collapse in the past decade to the embargo.
Mugabe however said his country will not bow to such pressure insisting “Zimbabwe will never be a colony again”.
He called on the country’s security forces to protect all citizens from political violence, something he and his government have been accused of failing to do.
“As leaders and as ordinary citizens that the security and welfare of every citizen needs to be guaranteed at every stage of our development …and also guaranteed by the security arms,” said the 88 year old veteran leader, who was speaking as if he was losing his breath.
Prime Minister and Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) leader Morgan Tsvangirai also attended the celebrations held at the national sports stadium which was filled to capacity. Scores of people had to be turned out as space had run out.
Crowds were treated to colourful displays from the police and army. A football match between Motor Action and Platinum FC was set to add the icing on the cake later in the afternoon.
Meanwhile in Chinhoyi plain clothes police were on Wednesday forcing residents to attend independence celebrations in the town.
The central business district was deserted as public transporters were forced off the road and vendors were forced to attend celebrations which were officiated by Governor Faber Chidarikire.
A mini-bus driver, Dennis Machira told Radio VOP: “We have been told to stay off the road by the police and we have to wait for them to clear us to do our business.”
“We are being forced to attend the celebrations,” said Partison Mukumbi, a vendor.