Nqobile Tshili, Chronicle Reporter
NATIONAL hero Cde Absolom Sikhosana will be buried tomorrow at the National Heroes Acre in Harare after a memorial service to be held at White City Stadium in Bulawayo today.
His body lay in state at his residence in Nkulumane suburb yesterday night following his death last Friday at the United Bulawayo Hospitals.
This morning, Cde Sikhosana’s body will be flown to his farm in Inyathi before being taken back to Bulawayo for the White City memorial service to be held from 11AM to 2PM.
The national hero’s body will be flown to Harare at 3PM for burial the following morning at the National Heroes Acre.
Representing Mr Aaron Nhepera, the Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Home Affairs and Cultural Heritage, a ministry official, Mr William Changwara, said due to Cde Sikhosana’s contributions,
Government saw it fit that he be buried at the national shrine among his revolutionary cadres.
Cde Sikhosana’s family had proposed that he be buried at Lady Stanley Cemetery in Bulawayo but accepted the decision that he be laid to rest at the National Heroes Acre in Harare.
“On the earlier plan to bury him here in Bulawayo, my superiors said it was no longer possible because of the works that Cde Sikhosana did. They said it is only befitting that he be buried at the national shrine with his comrades,” said Mr Changwara, as he delivered the Government position to the family.
Mr Changwara said Government had organised vehicles for 12 of the national hero’s relatives and three buses to take 96 mourners to Harare for the burial.
He said each bus will ferry 32 mourners to observe social distancing.
Bulawayo Provincial Affairs Minister Cde Judith Ncube it was prudent that the family and Bulawayo residents accept Government’s position.
“We have received an announcement that is coming from the highest offices. I would like to say, representing Bulawayo, we should accept what has been delivered to us. We might have come up with a limited position but our leaders see things differently. The President, after careful consideration, saw it fit that he be buried at the National Heroes Acre with his other comrades,” said Minister Ncube.
She said Cde Sikhosana will be buried alongside other national leaders including the late Vice-Presidents, Joshua Nkomo and Simon Muzenda.
Speaking on behalf of the family, Reverend Imon Ndlovu said Government’s decision had been welcomed by the family.
He said they had initially suggested that Cde Sikhosana be buried at Lady Stanley Cemetery to make it convenient for his two children affected by lockdown.
He said the two children were in South Africa and cannot travel due to Covid-19 regulations.
Rev Ndlovu said Government had assured them that they could easily visit the national shrine to pay their respects whenever they wanted.
“Cde Sikhosana worked closely with Government and as a family, we can’t be seen contradicting it. Government knows better the magnitude of his works. Again, if we as a family are allowed to access the National Heroes Acre, we don’t see any problem with the latest arrangement,” said Rev Ndlovu.
Cde Sikhosana was born on 26 October 1949 in Matobo District under Chief Masuku in Matabeleland South Province.
He attended Nduna Primary School from 1956 to mid-1958. He moved to White Water Primary School for Standard One to Three and that was between 1958 and 1960.
Cde Sikhosana also attended Lozikeyi Primary in Bulawayo for Standard Four to Six from 1961 to 1964.
In 1965 he moved to Mzilikazi Secondary School, then Mgandane, for his Form One to Four and in 1969 he attained a certificate in salesmanship from Rapid Results College and a Diploma in Public Relations from Ruskin College in the United Kingdom.
Cde Sikhosana worked as a Tally Clerk for the Bulawayo Clothing Factory (Charter Clothing) from 1970 to 1975. Between 1976 and 1977 Cde Sikhosana was elected regional organiser for the Rhodesian Clothing and Garment Workers Union. His movement from Charter Clothing to trade unionism was orchestrated by the political leadership to fill the gap left by the detention of the late nationalist Cde Enos Mdlongwa.
In 1977, Cde Sikhosana left the country for Zambia via Botswana to join the armed struggle and was trained at Camp of General Training (CGT) as an infantry cadre.
After demobilisation in 1982, he joined the Bulawayo Municipal Workers Union and became the organising secretary.
In 1992 Cde Sikhosana was seconded to the Public Service International Headquarters in Geneva, Switzerland.
In 1983 he was elected national secretary general for the Zapu youth wing. Between 1987 and 1989 Cde Sikhosana was instrumental in uniting the structures of the two liberation parties – Zapu and Zanu – after the signing of the Unity Accord in 1987.
He was elected youth publicity and information secretary for the united Zanu-PF at the inaugural Youth Conference in 1989. Cde Sikhosana later became the national deputy secretary for the Zanu-PF Youth League deputising the late national hero Chief Air Marshall Josiah Tungamirai.
Between 2000 and 2014, he served as Zanu-PF national secretary for youth affairs. In 2014, he became deputy secretary in the Department of Implementation of Indigenisation Policy in the Politburo.
In October 2019 he was appointed acting chairman for Bulawayo Metropolitan Province, a position he held until the time of his death.
He is survived by wife, Mrs Jelina Dube-Sikhosana, five children and six grandchildren.
Mourners are gathered at his home, Number 3115, Nkulumane 5 in Bulawayo. — @nqotshili