Daniel Nemukuyu, Harare Bureau
THOUSANDS of people yesterday thronged the National Heroes’ Acre in Harare to pay their last respects to national heroine, Cde Thokozile Angela Mathuthu.
Cde Mathuthu died last week after battling cancer.
People from all walks of life gathered at the national shrine to give Cde Mathuthu a befitting send off.
She was a Zanu-PF Politburo member and former Governor for Matabeleland North Province.
Proceedings started at Stodart Hall in Mbare when a hearse carrying Cde Mathuthu’s body arrived around 8AM for body viewing.
President Mnangagwa, accompanied by his two deputies, Cdes Constantino Chiwenga and Kembo Mohadi, were among mourners at Stodart Hall, who included senior Government and Zanu-PF officials.
The President led mourners in body viewing before the body was taken to the National Heroes’ Acre for burial.
Mbare Chimurenga Choir entertained mourners with revolutionary songs at Stodart Hall.
At the National Heroes’ Acre, mourners waved placards celebrating the life of Cde Mathuthu.
Addressing the gathering, President Mnangagwa described Cde Mathuthu as a true patriot who played a crucial role in the emancipation of the people of Zimbabwe.
“Today is a solemn day in our nation as we gather here to lay to rest, mourn and celebrate the life of a gallant daughter of the soil, Cde Thokozile Angela Mathuthu,” he said.
“She was a wife, mother, daughter, sister, comrade, national heroine and a true patriot. We affectionately called her Amai Mathuthu. We remember not only her life, but the journey she travelled, a journey well completed.
“She fought a good fight, she finished the race and kept the faith. May her soul rest in eternal peace.”
President Mnangagwa consoled the Mathuthu family.
“On behalf of Zanu-PF, the Government and on my own behalf, I want to convey my heartfelt condolences to the bereaved Mathuthu and Gumbo families, especially to uBaba uMathuthu (Mr Mathuthu) who has lost a beloved wife and a life-long companion, as well as to their children, who have lost a dear mother,” he said.
“We pray that you take solace and find comfort in that it is our loss together; the whole nation is mourning and grieving with you.”
President Mnangagwa said the death of Cde Mathuthu created a vacuum in both the party and Government that could not be easily filled.
“In Government, we have lost a dedicated and diligent public servant whose tireless efforts and work ethic left her as an exemplary servant leader,” he said.
“Her overriding national consciousness and singular commitment to national unity saw her appointed as Governor for Matabeleland North at a young age.
“She went on to serve in that capacity and became the longest serving Governor and Resident Minister to have been appointed in any one province.
“She was an eloquent communicator who worked closely with rural communities for development.
“The heroine will be forever remembered for providing leadership in developmental projects in the province, such as the Lupane State University and Elitsheni Government Complex projects, among others.”
President Mnangagwa hailed the late Cde Mathuthu for her instrumental role in empowering the people through decongesting the squashed communal settlements and opening up opportunities for the once marginalised natives to join the conservancy business in the province.
Cde Mathuthu was born on March 26 1957 in Bulawayo.
Between 1975 and 1978 she became active in the Zimbabwe African People’s Union (Zapu) Youth Wing as a committee member and war collaborator.
During that time, she assisted combatants who were operating in areas such as the Tinde, Kamativi in Hwange and Binga districts.
At independence, she became PF-ZAPU Women’s League committee member and deputy chairperson in Hwange District until 1983.
After Unity Accord, she held a wide array of portfolios within Zanu-PF, rising to become a central committee member and later a Politburo member.
At the time of her death she was deputy secretary of the party’s Women’s League.
She was a strong advocate for women empowerment and one of the women leaders who initiated the call for greater female participation in national development, both in the party and Government.