Temba Dube, Deputy News Editor
THE country will today bury three national heroes — two at the National Heroes’ Acre in Harare and one at a farm in Umguza, Matabeleland North.
Nationalist and liberation war stalwart Cde Abraham Nkiwane will be buried at his farm as per his family’s wishes, while Lieutenant-General Edzai Absolom Chimonyo who was the commander of the Zimbabwe National Army and war veteran Cde Michael Chakabva also known as Cde Vhuu will be laid to rest at the National Heroes Acre.
In a statement yesterday the Ministry of Home Affairs and Cultural Heritage said President Mnangagwa, Vice-President Constantino Chiwenga and Zanu-PF Vice-President and Second Secretary Cde Kembo Mohadi will be among the few top Government officials that will attend the double burial at the national shrine, in line with Covid-19 protocol.
Further only 20 people from each family and selected Government officials will attend the burial ceremony while others will follow it on virtual platforms.
The event will start with close family members converging at One Commando Barracks at 9.30AM and the cortège will depart for the National Heroes Acre at 10.25AM.
Selected officials that have been invited to attend the ceremony include the Speaker of the National Assembly Cde Jacob Mudenda, President of the Senate Cde Mabel Chinomona, Chief Justice Luke Malaba, Minister of Defence and War Veterans Affairs Cde Oppah Muchinguri-Kashiri, Zanu-PF Secretary for Administration Dr Obert Mpofu, Minister of Home Affairs and Cultural Heritage Cde Kazembe Kazembe, Minister for Provincial Affairs in Harare Cde Oliver Chidawu, Chief Secretary to the Office of the President and Cabinet Misheck Sibanda, Chairperson of the Public Service Commission Dr Vincent Hungwe, Deputy Chief secretaries, Harare Mayor Councillor Hebert Gomba, a limited number of permanent secretaries and service chiefs.
Cde Nkiwane (93) succumbed to prostate cancer at United Bulawayo Hospitals on Tuesday.
He was among the first freedom fighters to inspire the armed struggle after smuggling weapons into the then Southern Rhodesia in 1962, escalating tensions as blacks sought self-determination.
In a condolence message to his family last week, President Mnangagwa said Cde Nkiwane’s fearlessness and deep love for national independence was on show when he made history as the first cadre to smuggle arms of war into the then Rhodesia in 1962.
He said the courageous act inspired many who would follow in his footsteps.
Cde Nkiwane was part of Zapu’s Special Affairs High Command where he served as Chief of Personnel and Training.
“He worked with leading veterans of our struggle like the late Dumiso Dabengwa, Ackim Ndlovu, Robson Manyika, and Cdes (Ambrose) Mutinhiri and (former Vice-President Phelekezela) Mphoko who are still with us today.
“He thus was among a generation of cadre-commanders who laid the groundwork for Zimbabwe’s armed liberation struggle, including securing training facilities for our cadres in far-flung countries such as Zambia, Tanzania, Ghana and Egypt on the African Continent, and the then Soviet Union, North Korea and Cuba beyond our continent,” said President Mnangagwa.
He consoled Cde Nkiwane’s family saying the liberation hero leaves indelible marks to be cherished by future generations.
Lt-Gen Chimonyo died on Thursday morning after battling cancer. He was 69.
The President recalled when he met Lt-Gen Chimonyo during the liberation struggle.
“I met Edzai during the war in 1977 in Mozambique after I had completed my 10-year jail term. So, from that time till today we have been working together, we have seen his works.
“In the army he was one of the most hard-working persons. Sending him to a task, you will be well assured that it will be done exactly as you would have said. He was a dependable person. You have heard the Vice-President talking of some tasks that we gave him and he accomplished them.
“Now we are in the New Dispensation, we had to think of a person to replace General Sibanda as Commander Zimbabwe National Army. Due to his hard work, loyalty and dedication it was time to reward him. We looked at his sense of loyalty, commitment and dedication.
“To the family, we know that he is your son, brother, father and nephew. To us he had become a son of the soil. After we sat down for consideration, we did not see any reason why we should not accord him the honour he deserves. It did not trouble us that he become a national hero. So, we declared that Edzai should be a national hero for the Republic of Zimbabwe. He is our big hero; he belongs to the nation.”
Cde Chakabva, who was a member of the Zanla High Command, and at one time commander of the Gaza province, died on July 6 after a long illness.
He was recruited by Cde Mangena and Joseph Khumalo to go and train under Zapu in Morogoro, Tanzania.
After training he went to rest at Shai Shai in Limpopo, for three months.
When Cde Chakabva heard about Zanu, he left to join them under Ndabaningi Sithole.