8. July 2009

Zimbabwe: President Hails Malawi Freedom

Harare — President Mugabe has congratulated Malawi for attaining 45 years of freedom saying the independence anniversary was historic to Zimbabwe's own struggle for self-rule.

Speaking at a State banquet hosted by President Bingu wa Mutharika on Sunday night ahead of yesterday's independence celebrations, President Mugabe said Malawi's 45th anniversary reminded him of the road Zimbabwe travelled to freedom drawing both support and inspiration from its neighbour.

He said this was the reason he felt compelled to attend the 45th independence celebrations despite a busy schedule.

Before self-rule, Zimbabwe (Southern Rhodesia), Malawi (Nyasaland)and Zambia (Northern Rhodesia) were administered by Britain as the Federation of Rhodesia and Nyasaland.

"I have been associated with the leadership of Malawi for over 45 years and regard Malawi as a second home. I found it a great honour indeed to come and be present, it's a great joy to join you and rejoice with you over this great day.

"Historically, I feel it is an reincarnment of what happened here in 1964. I was then secretary-general of Zanu which had been formed a year before in 1963 and that party had been formed with the assistance of Dr Hastings Kamuzu Banda. I was here in 1964 when independence was celebrated and people were rejoicing a new dawn because they now owned Malawi," said President Mugabe.

The President said on that day he wondered whether the joy of freedom that had engulfed Malawi would also be experienced in Zimbabwe in the near future.

However, Zimbabwe had to wait for 16 years to gain its own independence which was made possible by the assistance it got from countries such as Malawi.

President Mugabe said the first Land-Rover Zanu owned was donated to the party by Malawi and the late Dr Kamuzu Banda and Ghana's founding president, the late Kwame Nkrumah helped facilitate the training of the liberation movement's first guerillas to fight British colonial rule.

It was this invaluable contribution that helped Zimbabwe eventually become independent in 1980 and the migration of some Malawians to work here that built the strong bonds between the two countries.

"Look at us as we are now in Zimbabwe, we have Bandas in Government, the private sector, we have marriages that have taken place among us. So who is he, what is he who would say to Bingu wa Mutharika don't help Mugabe?"

President Mugabe said it was such unity that the region required as freedom "makes us masters of our own destiny".

He hailed President wa Mutharika's leadership and his vision to introduce a fertilizer subsidy that has seen Malawi realise a maize surplus in the past few years and made it the talk of the region and the world at large.

"You do not lead for yourself, you lead because the people have asked you to lead them. Bingu has been famous by his policy to give inputs to peasant farmers and the results have been phenomenal."

He also congratulated President wa Mutharika and the ruling Democratic Progressive Party for winning May's presidential and parliamentary elections.

President Mugabe said the elections were free and fair as declared by Malawians themselves but warned against Western interference in African elections.

Speaking at the same occasion, President wa Mutharika said President Mugabe had shown great and true friendship by flying to Malawi on the same day he arrived from Libya where he attended the African Union summit.

He said the gesture showed Zimbabwe was a good neighbour.

Yesterday President Mugabe and his delegation joined the people of Malawi in commemorating their 45th anniversary at Kamuzu Stadium in Blantyre.

The colourful festivities were marked by military displays, song and dance performed by the DPP women members, choirs and traditional groups.

The Government of Malawi conferred President wa Mutharika with the Grand National Achievers Award while former president Dr Kamuzu Banda and a former member of his government Mama Cecilia Kadzamira among other Malawians were honoured for their contribution to the growth and development of the country.

In his address, President wa Mutharika implored his countrymen and women to continue working hard in all spheres of their economic and social life to consolidate the success Malawi has achieved in the past.

President Mugabe and his delegation returned home late yesterday afternoon. (ALL AFRICA)

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