THE CURIOUS CASE OF MUGABE HOLIDAY | The declaration of President Robert Mugabe’s birthday as a holiday is yet to be formalised, with the latest Government Gazette not recognising it among 2018’s national holidays calendar.
Last month, Home Affairs minister Ignatius Chombo, also the ruling Zanu PF’s secretary for administration, announced the declaration of 93-year-old Mugabe’s birthday — 21st February — as a national holiday.
However, in a September 1, 2017 government gazette, Chombo recognised the 13 traditional Zimbabwean holidays for 2018, curiously leaving out the Mugabe birthday holiday, proposed to be named “Robert Gabriel Mugabe National Youth Day”.
“It is hereby declared in terms of section 2(1) of the Public Holidays and Prohibition of Business Act (chapter10:21) that the days listed in the schedule will be public holidays in 2018,” Chombo said in the general notice 491 of 2017.
However, he said “the list does not include any days which the president may declare to be public holidays in terms of section 2(2) of the Public Holidays and Prohibition of Business Act (Chapter 10:21)”, leaving room for Mugabe to officially declare his birthday a holiday.
Among the holidays gazetted by Chombo is New Year’s Day, Easter, Workers’ Day, Independence and Christmas.
He did not mention any holiday in February, the month in which Mugabe’s birthday falls.
While comment could not be obtained from Chombo, as his phone went unanswered, his deputy Obedingwa Mguni said he was not aware of the issue.
“Why don’t you get hold of (Dr) Chombo himself, I am down in Plumtree I am not sure,” Mguni said.
Addressing a press conference last month, Chombo said the Robert Gabriel Mugabe National Youth Day, which the Zanu PF youths had been clamouring for, had been approved by Cabinet.
The holiday was created in terms of section two of the Public Holidays and Prohibition of Business Act.
“We have called this press conference to announce the designation of 21st February as a national public holiday which shall be called the Robert Gabriel Mugabe National Youth Day. This is with effect from 21st February, 2018,” Chombo said then.
“This declaration comes as a culmination of years of advocacy and lobbying initially made by the founders of the 21st FebruaryMovement and subsequently by the Zanu PF national youth league.
“The youths are acknowledging the unparalleled, visionary, persistent and principles of the president and first secretary of Zanu PF and honouring him for the peace, tranquillity, harmony and quiet prevailing among the people of Zimbabwe.
Chombo said the Youth, Indigenisation and Economic Empowerment ministry would now take over the organisation of the annual 21st February Movement commemorations, but would be working closely with the Zanu PF youth league.
This means the event would now get State funding, further straining the already lean fiscus.