Zvamaida Murwira in Harare and Pamela Shumba in Bulawayo
The wife of national hero and late Vice President Cde Joseph Msika, Maria, has died.
She was 89.
Gogo Maria Msika died at her residence in Harare yesterday morning.
Acting President Emmerson Mnangagwa visited the residence last night to pay his condolences.
He was accompanied by several Cabinet Ministers, Chief Secretary to the Office of the President and Cabinet, Dr Misheck Sibanda, his deputy Dr Ray Ndhlukula, Zimbabwe Defence Forces Commander General Constantino Chiwenga, Airforce Commander, Air Marshal Perence Shiri, Commissioner General of Zimbabwe Prisons and Correctional Services, Retired Major General Paradzai Zimondi and Deputy Director General in the President’s Office Mr Aaron Daniel Nhepera, among other senior Government officials.
Addressing mourners, Acting President Mnangagwa said they had since submitted a detailed report to President Mugabe who is in New York attending the United Nations General Assembly.
“We have prepared a report to the President and we are expecting a response soon, possibly tomorrow. The President now knows what has happened here,” he said.
“Let us be united while we wait to hear from the Government on the way forward. We will be together during this time of bereavement and we have asked the Office of the President and Cabinet to continue to be with you. We need as Government to be united with you during this period,” said Acting President Mnangagwa.
He said Gogo Msika had looked after several people during and after the liberation struggle.
She remained with the family while her husband was incarcerated by the Rhodesian regime.
Family spokesman Mr Jonathan Mapfumo said Gogo Msika had not been well for the past six years.
He said she had been feeding through a catheter and breathing with the aid of machines.
“She has been in and out of hospital until this morning when the Lord decided to promote her at around 0600hrs,” said Mr Mapfumo, who is a nephew.
In an interview earlier in the day, Zanu-PF secretary for information and publicity Cde Simon Khaya Moyo described Gogo Msika as a dauntless mother figure.
He said Gogo Msika fended for the family while VP Msika languished in prison during the liberation struggle.
“The passing on of Gogo Maria Msika early this morning is a tragedy not only to the family but to Zanu-PF and the nation at large,” said Cde Moyo.
“She gave tremendous support to her late husband Vice President Joseph Msika while he was languishing in various prisons, detention and restriction centres across the country during the liberation struggle. She fended for the family on her own for many years with tremendous determination until freedom day.”
He added: “She was a mother figure of great humility, courageous, a down-to-earth, kind hearted personality and was solid in all her deeds. Such people never die but depart for higher responsibility. The nation is poorer without her. Her pleasant deeds however live forever. She has left a rich legacy of service, dedication, commitment and patriotism to all of us and generations to come. May her soul anchor and rest in eternal peace.”
Gogo Msika is survived by three children, Lucia, Shelton and Maxwell, eight grandchildren and three great grandchildren.
Cabinet Ministers who consoled the family at the residence included Defence Minister Dr Sydney Sekeramayi, Information, Media and Broadcasting Services Minister Dr Christopher Mushohwe and Cde Khaya Moyo.
Zanu-PF Politburo member Cde Joshua Malinga described Gogo Msika as a caring and motherly woman.
“Mrs Msika was not a politician but she was a quiet, caring and motherly woman who worked hard and supported the liberation struggle. She was one of the influential drivers who worked behind the scenes to bring freedom to the people of Zimbabwe.
“I knew Mrs Msika from the 1950s when she was at Usher Mission School and she had always been the loving mother that she was. She is one of the women who should be buried where other heroes are buried,” said Cde Malinga.
The Minister of War Veterans, War Collaborators, Ex-Political Detainees and Restrictees Retired Colonel Tshinga Dube said Gogo Msika’s death was a sad loss, describing her as a loving woman.
“I knew Mrs Msika very well as we used to visit their lovely home often. She loved people and had so much love for everybody. Her husband was always away due to detentions during the liberation struggle and national duty and she took care of their children while her husband was away.
“All her children were educated although most of them unfortunately died when they were still young. Mrs Msika did her part as a mother and made sure they were all educated,” said Rtd Col Dube.
He added that Gogo Msika was a peaceful woman, who played an influential role in managing disputes between her husband, other people and the media.
“Being a politician and holding a powerful position, it was natural for the late Vice President to be in the papers most of the time. Sometimes he would get furious over false reports and threaten to confront the media.
“I still remember how Mrs Msika would stop her husband from retaliating. She always emphasised on the importance of being peaceful and avoiding fights as they brought no benefits. She really played a good role in that respect,” said Rtd Col Dube.
Mourners are gathered at Number 11 Nigel Lane, Highlands, Harare.—@pamelashumba1