Felex Share, Harare Bureau
The late Masvingo Provincial Affairs Minister Cde Shuvai Ben Mahofa was a certified politician whose national heroine status cannot be spoiled by anyone, Vice-President Phelekezela Mphoko said yesterday.
Addressing hundreds of mourners who gathered at the National Heroes’ Acres to bid farewell to Cde Mahofa, VP Mphoko said any attempts to use the names of national heroes and heroines for divisive politics was a betrayal to the gains of the liberation struggle.
Cde Mahofa, a Zanu-PF Politburo member from Masvingo province, died last Monday at Makurira Memorial Clinic after battling poor health for some time.
She was 76.
Cde Mahofa becomes the ninth heroine to be interred at the National Heroes’ Acre.
Said VP Mphoko: “In the late Mai Mahofa, we saw a political cadre who was straightforward, trustworthy and morally upright. She subordinated herself to the party leadership and embraced wholeheartedly the work and assignments she was given.
“She hailed from the generation of principled cadres who never hesitated to make sacrifices for the people. This is not something we can say about many today without risking contradicting ourselves. She was complete in herself. As such there is no need for anyone to spoil her status to seek to hijack it for the purpose to advancing any narrow or sinister agenda. National heroes and heroines like Cde Mahofa are by definition figures and rallying points of nationalism.”
Cde Mahofa was a founding member of the Zanu-PF Women’s League and at the time of her death, she was the wing’s secretary for security.
VP Mphoko said during the liberation struggle, Cde Mahofa distinguished herself as a trailblasing war collaborator and political commissar — feats not for the faint-hearted. “Being a war collaborator demanded as much courage, bravery, discipline and vision as a trained guerilla combatant,” VP Mphoko said.
“She worked in cahoots with the late Dr Simon Mazorodze to ensure that medical provisions, clothes, food and other accessories were received in the war front. I am told that in turn, the comrades trained her in the handling of array of weapons as she was also responsible for coordinating the carriage of weapons for the Zanla combatants. The freedom fighters relied heavily on the support and cooperation they received from the war collaborators.”
He added: “War collaborators were brave men and women, courageous boys and girls who were in the line of fire both from the enemy if they were caught assisting the freedom fighters and from the comrades if they sold them out to the enemy.
“She dared do what some men could not do, working in the line of fire as if things were normal. She experienced it all, seeing others lose their lives, limbs, the shedding of innocent blood by the enemy all for the sake of liberating this country. No price was too big to pay for Mai Mahofa, not even with her life if that was it would have cost her to liberate her country from the hands of the Rhodesian settlers.”
VP Mphoko said the portfolios Cde Mahofa held was ample testimony to her “impeccable” war credentials which later shaped her strong character as a public officer in Zanu-PF and Government.
“Politically, she rose through the party ranks to the Politburo level,” he said.
“In Government, she worked in Local Government as an officer in Gutu district before assuming ministerial appointments. She was appointed Deputy Minister for Women Affairs and Political Affairs and Minister of State for Masvingo Provincial Affairs. She has served as a legislator in both the lower and upper Houses of Parliament.”
VP Mphoko said the youths should emulate Cde Mahofa.
“All she asked of our youths and us all is to continue to guard jealously the country we call Zimbabwe and ensure that it remains free, independent and a sovereign country,” he said.
“It would be a great betrayal to Mai Mahofa and to all the heroes and heroines who lie here and elsewhere who sacrificed their lives for the liberation of their country. All they ask of us is that we keep our Zimbabwe and for the present and future generations. Independence has been bequeathed to us and it is economic independence that we have to fight for now. The economy has to be grown by us.”
Born in 1941 in Chivi, Cde Mahofa attended Chibi Mission and Morgenster Mission schools.
She attained a Diploma in General Nursing in 1960 after training at Morgenster Mission.
In 1973, she enrolled for a Diploma in Community Development at Domboshava Training Centre and was active in early nationalist politics that saw her joining the National Democratic Party before joining Zapu in 1960 and then Zanu in 1963.
She was the first woman council chairperson for Gutu District in the early 80s.
She was Gutu South Member of Parliament between 1985 and 2008.
She also served as the first Zanu-PF Women’s League provincial leader for Masvingo in the 1980s.