Mutare — Heroes Day seems to be losing significance in the eastern border city as ordinary people snubbed the commemorations at the provincial shrine and continued with their day to day business.
A survey conducted by this paper showed that it was business as usually as most local people were going about their businesses while a few relatives of the departed heroes and heroines and government officials attended the commemorations at the provincial shrine.
It was business as usual at City Flea Market, Sakubva Market and Forbes Border Post.
Locals interviewed said the day has lost its relevance as only a few people were benefitting from the country's independence while the majority, particularly in Manicaland were struggling with poverty.
"The day is no longer important to us because only a few who are connected to the ruling elite are enjoying the fruits of the liberation struggle. We are suffering. We can't even afford basics to survive," said Margaret Mawonde (45), a vendor at Sakubva.
Gilbert Bwawo (36), a foreign currency dealer at Machipanda Border Post, said there is nothing to commemorate as most youths were wallowing in abject poverty due to unemployment and a myriad economic challenges.
"There is nothing to commemorate as you can see I am in a foreign land trying to eke out a living. Those who went to war to fight the colonial system should be turning in their graves because their wishes to see a prosperous Zimbabwe were betrayed by a few corrupt individuals who are enjoying the gravy train," said Bwawo.
He said his wish was to see a prosperous Zimbabwe where citizens are accorded equal opportunities to achieve their goals and aspirations regardless of their political affiliation.
Grace Makuyana (35) who sells second hand merchandise at Sakubva flea market said she has respect for Zimbabweans who sacrificed their lives for independence but added the country has been hijacked by a few.
"Manicaland Province bore the brunt of the war and it contributed significantly to the liberation of this country but it has nothing to show for it. Our diamonds were looted and people are drowning in a sea of poverty. Those who waged the Second Chimurenga fought for equality and freedoms but 39 years now, things have worsened," said Makuyana.
Truck drivers interviewed at Forbes border post said they respected those who fought during the struggle but they believed it's high time war veterans pass the baton to the new generation to move the country forward.
"We have spent three days sleeping in queues at the border because our leaders are out of touch with reality. Those in positions of authority have lost touch with reality. It's so sad and unfortunate that they want to cling on to power but the truth is we are not going forward," said Michael Sabiti, a haulage truck driver.
Others urged President Emmerson Mnangagwa to engage his political rival and MDC Alliance leader Nelson Chamisa in meaningful dialogue to break the political impasse that is threatening to sink the country's economy.
"We are now in the 21st century; we need to strike a balance by fusing old and new ideas in the political leadership.
"We need a fusion of ideas. Zanu PF fought for this country but they also need ideas from the new generation to move the country forward," said Abel Alfonso a trucker.
Manicaland province produced some finest leaders in the brutal war against colonialism among them celebrated traditional leader Chief Rekayi Tangwena, former Zanu secretary general Edgar Tekere, founding president Ndabangi Sithole, iconic wartime national chairman Herbert Chitepo and former Defence Minister Enerst Kadungure.