Cde Peter Chanetsa who died on Monday in Harare will take his place at the National Heroes’ Acre in Harare today among dozens of other distinguished men and women who dedicated themselves in serving their country.
The former Mashonaland West Resident Minister and Governor was declared a national hero on Thursday. The first black chief of protocol at independence died at Parirenyatwa Group of Hospitals aged 70 due to heart failure.
We are saddened by his passing on and urge his wife, Beatrice, their children and the entire Chanetsa family to be strong.
Cde Chanetsa deserves his place at the National Heroes’ Acre because of his contribution in the struggle for independence and after. He underwent military training in Tanzania in the 1970s and was tasked with protocol duties, a specialty he maintained for many years later.
As chief of protocol, Cde Chanetsa was a very senior civil servant, working closely with President Mugabe for 16 years post-independence.
Acting President Emmerson Mnangagwa told mourners at the Chanetsa family’s Harare home on Thursday night:
“I phoned the President telling him about the death and he told me that he had learnt about it through the First Lady who had read about it on the Internet. I told him that Mashonaland West province had indicated that it was sitting down to deliberate on his history and make recommendations. The province finally sat down and forwarded its papers but we had two days before coming back to you. As leadership here we had sat down but many Politburo members are out of the country and we had to consult everyone. Most of them responded in favour of your recommendation. We sent the details to the President and this morning while in Bulawayo, I managed to talk to him. He had left China for Singapore and he said tell the relatives that I am in agreement. So, Cde Chanetsa has been granted national hero status. It is now official everything from now will be done by the Government through the Ministry of Home Affairs.”
Born on 15 July 1946 in Chinhoyi, Mashonaland West young Chanetsa had his education in that area but later moved to Mabvuku in the then Salisbury. He then went to Mwanza, Tanzania, where he later received military training. He is survived by wife Beatrice and three children.
When he retired from civil service, Cde Chanetsa continued serving his country as he did before 1980. The President showed confidence in Cde Chanetsa when he appointed him Mashonaland West Resident Minister and Governor in 1996. He worked in that office for seven years, the last three of which were key not only for him and his province, but also for the entire country as that was during the formative years of the land reform and redistribution programme.
Any provincial governor who was in office during that time had to be a person of sterner stuff. The white farmers were refusing to move to make way for indigenous people. They approached the courts, in some cases they used violence to resist eviction. As head of Government in the provinces, provincial governors still had the mandate to make sure that the policy was implemented and people had to get land. It was not an easy task for Cde Chanetsa in a province whose economy is generally agricultural and therefore was in the hands of a few whites.
However, he did well in laying a foundation that his successor used to further prosecute the land reform programme.
He left government service to concentrate on his businesses and his party Zanu-PF as a Central Committee member until Monday.
Minister of Lands and Rural Resettlement Dr Douglas Mombeshora, who is also a ruling party Politburo member and comes from Mashonaland West said: “As a province we felt that our hero has been granted so highly. It is evidence of the work that he did throughout the time he lived.”
Cde Chanetsa played his part in serving the motherland. He fought against white colonialism, won and continued working until his death. We thank him for that. The top honour he received from the Government is thus richly deserved.