ON Wednesday morning Zimbabwe woke up to the sad news on the untimely death of Cde Perrance Shiri a decorated hero of the liberation struggle, dedicated soldier having risen to the rank of Air Chief Marshal (Retired) and Minister of Lands, Agriculture, Water, Climate and Rural Resettlement.
Cde Shiri who died at the age of 65 after a short illness was deservingly immediately accorded National Hero status for his outstanding contribution to pre and post- independent Zimbabwe.
The Zanu-PF Politburo which met on Wednesday also unanimously agreed that Cde Shiri be declared a National Hero.
Cde Shiri died at a time when his ministry was initiating a number of measures to boost the country’s agricultural sector to make the nation food self-sufficient even in times of drought.
In his recent visit to Hwange, President Mnangagwa said Cde Shiri’s ministry and that of Mines and Mining Development played a key role in the revival of the country’s economy and towards the achievement of Vision 2030.
The President expressed confidence that Cde Shiri was the right man for the job as he was up to task with what he was expected to achieve in the Ministry.
In his condolence message on Wednesday, President Mnangagwa said he had learnt with great shock and sadness the death of Cde Shiri.
“I have learnt with utter shock and a deep sense of grief of the death early this morning of Air Chief Marshal (Rtd) Perrance Shiri, our Minister of Lands, Agriculture, Water and Rural Resettlement after a short illness.
“A stalwart of our war of national liberation, Cde Shiri ranked high among our leading Zanla field commanders whose contribution to the national Liberation Struggle was simply valiant and outstanding.
“His commitment to the liberation of his country and his people amply showed when he alongside our Vice President General (Rtd) Constantino Chiwenga abandoned his studies at Mount Saint Mary’s Mission School in Wedza in 1973, and defied all odds to join the Liberation Struggle at a very tender age,” he said.
The President said after having been fully trained and battle hardened, Cde Shiri rose through the ranks to become the overall commander of Tete province, one of the hottest fronts during the fierce country’s war of independence.
He said under his command, several spectacular missions against the enemy were carried out among them the 1978 blasting of oil tanks in Salisbury, itself the heart and citadel of the settler power.
“Indeed, that military action which was undertaken by a specialised Zanla Unit which he mentored reverberated well beyond the immediate theatre of war and proved a turning point in our struggle for National Liberation.
“After the struggle, he would continue serving his country in the military including playing a salutary role in the integration process by which erstwhile warring armies were reoriented and re-moulded into cohesive Zimbabwe National Army. Later, he would be redeployed to the Air Force of Zimbabwe, becoming our second indigenous Air Force of Zimbabwe Commander after the late Cde Josiah Tungamirai.
“While he discharged his onerous command duties he still found time to further his education in the process acquiring several professional qualifications and two masters degrees in the fields of business and development. Always focused, hardworking and hands on, the late Minister Shiri was key to revamping our food security. Barely a month ago, we launched an agricultural equipment initiative he concluded with an American company John Deere. We were before his untimely demise, planning to launch yet another of his many initiatives on mechanisation this time with the republic of Belarus,” he said.
“It was also during his short-lived ministerial tenure that he reached out to and opened negotiations with former white commercial farmers with a view to breaking the impasse over the age-old national land question. Only this morning we signed a historic agreement with the former farmers itself a crowning moment for his tireless efforts. Sadly, as fate would have it, he would not live to witness this historic moment.”
Cde Shiri leaves a legacy of selfless dedication and hard work that should be emulated by all patriotic Zimbabweans.
As the nation trudges on towards the attainment of economic prosperity espoused in Vision 2030, the best way to honour Cde Shiri’s memory is to be united by one goal of taking the nation forward.
Rest In peace Gallant Son of the Soil.