93-year-old President Robert Mugabe started the celebration on Monday when he spent some time with school children gathered at an indoor sports centre in Harare.
“You must remember that we took our land back from our erstwhile colonisers … you are the inheritors of it,” he told the children at their party.
Mugabe, who has been caught on camera at several high-profiled occasions dozing off, told the children to “remember to guard against dozing off during lessons”. “You should not feel tempted to turn lessons into a siesta,” he was reported to have said jokingly.
Ahead of the major celebration at the National Sports Stadium, opposition leaders and supporters have expressed disdain towards the celebration.
“We commemorate and not celebrate because the stinking poverty around us and the extreme suffering of the people is not worth celebrating. Our current sad national predicament is not commensurate with the sacrifice we made as a nation in the brutal struggle for our independence,” leader of the opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC-T) party, Morgan Tsvangirai said in a statement.