SIRONKO – Ugandan President Yoweri Kaguta Museveni has presented Zimbabwean Counterpart Emmerson Mnangagwa with the most excellent Order of the Pearl of Africa, the Grand Master medal and also thanked him for accepting to visit Uganda.
“We are honoured that President Mnangagwa accepted the invitation to be our guest of honour. His Excellency Mnangagwa was last here in 1963 when he was being smuggled for military training in China. I saw he had not been here for a long time and I decided to invite him and he agreed,” Mr. Museveni said.
“Thank you, President Mnangagwa, for accepting our invitation. If you invite a brother to a party and he comes, the relationship is strengthened,” he added.
The ceremony took place on Wednesday during the occasion to mark Uganda’s 57th Independence day anniversary held at Sironko District headquarters playground.
The Most Excellent Order of the Pearl of Africa (Swahili: Nishani Ubora wa Lulu ya Afrika) is the highest civilian award of the Ugandan honours system and is awarded to heads of state and government leaders. Previous beneficiaries of the award include Rwandan President Paul Kagame and Theodore Obiang Nguema Obasago of Equatorial Guinea.
Thanking President Museveni for the recognition, Mnangagwa said, “I feel extremely humbled by the honor you have bestowed not on me but to my country.”
“This is in respect of the journey that we have traveled as a people, as a country to where we are today. Committed to develop our country, to integrate with the rest of the region and the African continent,” he added.
He noted that Uganda has today on the 57th anniversary of her independence and freedom given recognition to Zimbabwe. “I humbly accept on behalf of my country. I thank you” said Mnangagwa.
This years’ Independence Day is being commemorated under the theme ‘Consolidation of National Unity, Security, Freedom and Prosperity’.
Earlier, in his speech, President Museveni congratulated Ugandans upon reaching the 57th Independence anniversary and went on to highligh some of the NRM government achievements over the years.
“In 33 years, we have been able to recover minimum economic recovery, build a strong army and start the process of development and address the issue of social services while the population increases to 44M from 14M since 1986,” Museveni said.
Adding that, “We shall construct roads in major tourist areas, roads leading to the oil fields and work on our irrigation systems.”
Mr. Museveni also paid tribute to Mugabe (former Zimbabwean leader), describing him as a liberator.
“I want to use this occasion to extend the condolences of the Ugandans and of myself again to Your Excellency on the death of our elder and comrade freedom fighter Mzee Robert Mugabe,”
“Mzee Mugabe made a historic contribution to the liberation of Zimbabwe. He spent 10 years in prison on account of that.” (A minute of silence was observed as a tribute to the fallen statesman).
The colorful Independence day celebrations were also attended by among others, the Vice President, H.E Edward Kiwanuka Sekandi, the Speaker of Parliament, Rebecca Kadaga, the FDC Secretary General Nandala Mafabi, cultural leaders, Members of Parliament and the diplomatic corps.