Friday, August 26, 2011

Thousands Pay Tribute to Retired-General Solomon Mujuru of Zimbabwe

Befitting send-off for Gen Mujuru

Sunday, 21 August 2011 02:15
Zimbabwe Sunday Mail

FARE THEE WELL . . . Vice-President Joice Mujuru knelt before a portrait of her late husband Retired General Solomon Mujuru and the casket containing his body at Stodart Hall in Mbare yesterday morning

By Emilia Zindi and Kuda Bwititi

THE sound of a 17-gun salute thundered and mesmerised the crowd at the National Heroes’ Acre yesterday as national hero Retired General Solomon Mujuru was buried with full military honours.

The salute is the highest honour accorded only to heads of state, vice-presidents and senior army generals.

It was a befitting send-off.

The burial will remain unforgettable.

A record crowd of more than 40 000 mourners thronged the national shrine to bid farewell to the gallant fighter in a show of unity. Grief intermingled with jubilation.

Some openly wept; others ululated to celebrate the life of the legendary army commander.

Mourners arrived at the Heroes’ Acre as early as 6am. The venue was packed by the time the gun carriage bearing Rtd Gen Mujuru’s casket arrived.

Those who could not find designated areas to sit found places under trees and on treetops.

Zimbabwe National Army Major-General Nicholas Dube described the 17-gun salute as a celebration of General Mujuru’s military expertise.

“The gun salute is more than just tradition. It was the celebration of the life of a military man who was a shining example in exhibiting military skills,” he said.

“The salute is given to generals in the army from the rank of major-general upwards as well as to the President and Vice-Presidents only.”

Senior army officers from Southern Africa were present, ample testimony that Rtd Gen Mujuru’s influence transcended Zimbabwe’s borders.

Among them were Mozambique’s Army Com-mander, General Graca Tomas Chongo; Tanzania’s Retired General George Waitara and Retired Brigadier-General Hashim Mbita; and South Africa’s Brigadier-General Vusimuzi Masondo.

South African Minister of State Security Siyabonga Cwele was also among the regional and international guests who came to bid farewell to the military icon.

President Mugabe called on Zimbabweans to remain united and enjoy the Independence that cadres like Rtd Gen Mujuru stood for.

After the speech, Rtd Gen Mujuru’s remains were taken for interment. It was a moving moment. Tears flowed. The melancholy was palpable. The legend of Zimbabwe’s struggle was heading to his final resting place.

A sight to behold was the unity exhibited by all the three parties in the inclusive Government who were all represented by their party presidents, ministers and senior officials, as political rivalry was thrown to the dustbin.

Zanu-PF Harare Province youth chairman Cde Jimu Kunaka said a procession of youths that marched from the Mujuru residence in Chisipite to the shrine, sought to honour the departed general differently.

"We gathered hundreds of youths from the province who volunteered to march from Chisipite. It was our small way to mourn the general," he said.

Rhumba musician Energy Mutodi said heroes like Rtd Gen Mujuru were rare.

"Such people are not born everyday. They are born maybe once in a hundred years. I came to pay my respects to him because he is a shining example to all," he said.

Mashonaland East businessman Mr Morris Chiwanga said Cde Mujuru was irreplaceable.

"You cannot replace such a man. All we can do is make sure his legacy lives on," he said.

Anglican Archbishop Chad Gandiya said it was befitting that Zimbabweans from all walks of life came to celebrate Rtd Gen Mujuru's life.

"We are what we are today because of him and other freedom fighters. Everyone should mourn this man," he said.

Pan-African Youth Union deputy secretary-general Tendai Wenyika said the late army commander was an African icon.

"He is Africa's hero in so many ways." he said.

Mvurwi farmer Mr Sydney Chidamba said Cde Mujuru's humility was second to none.

"I met him at the tobacco auction floors regularly. He was down to earth and willing to share ideas."

Earlier, hundreds of Zimbabweans had thronged Stodart Hall in Harare's Mbare high-density suburb to pay their last respects to the late soldier.

They lined the streets of the suburb as early as 6am as they awaited the arrival of his remains. The atmosphere was sombre.

They mourned his tragic death. The gun carriage bearing the commander's casket turned up the street at around 8.30am to rousing ululation from the crowds who also burst into song.

Alongside the casket were Retired Major-General Mike Nyambuya, Zimbabwe Defence Forces Commander General Constantine Chiwenga, Zimbabwe National Army commander Lieutenant-General Phillip Valerio Sibanda, Senior Police Assistant Commissioner-General Gordon Matanga and Zimbabwe Prison Service Commissioner Retired Major-General Paradzai Zimondi.

President Mugabe, First Lady Amai Grace Mugabe, Vice-President Mujuru and other senior Government officials arrived shortly afterwards.

For the first time, no body viewing was conducted owing to the extent of Rtd Gen Mujuru's burns. Mourners were only allowed to pass in front of the casket in a procession. The song that almost became Cde Mujuru's anthem marked the end of proceedings at Stodart Hall, as mourners headed for the National Heroes' Acre for the burial. "Hona Mukoma Nhongo bereka sabhu tiende, chauya chauya", took centre stage as mourners of all ages danced.

Mujuru unified all in life and in death .

Sunday, 21 August 2011 01:58

General Solomon Mujuru, who was laid to rest at the National Heroes’ Acre in Harare yesterday, has united the people in a manner that has made everyone proud to be Zimbabwean.

Yes we are saddened that he is gone, but here is his enduring legacy: he united our freedom fighters during the struggle, he united our liberation armies at Independence, and, now, even as we mourn this brave strategist, Gen Mujuru has captured the respect and collective grief of the entire nation.

At the national shrine as the nation bade farewell to the Commander of Commanders, all the political parties were represented.

Refreshingly, it did not matter whether you were Zanu-PF, MDC, MDC-T or Zapu. They all came, in their thousands.

Cde Rex was a great unifier.

Let this be a lesson to every politician out there. A divided nation is a weak nation. As Zimbabweans, we have wasted too much time squabbling, insulting and fighting each other.

There are many lessons for everyone here.
Gen Mujuru decided, at a tender age, to fight racist oppression. When it became clear to him that the fascist regime would not heed the people’s call for majority rule, Cde Rex took up arms and fought alongside others to dismantle the evil system.

The late 1970s was a tempestuous time for the liberation struggle. On many occasions, there was enough reason to fear that the war would get derailed by one crisis or another. Zanla and Zipra faced serious challenges, both internal and external. The situation demanded men and women of steel.

Cde Rex was one of them and he carried out his tough assignments with admirable distinction.

In his heart-warming eulogy yesterday, President Mugabe brought to the fore all the remarkable qualities that made Cde Rex a giant among men, a people’s hero, an enduring legend.

Gen Mujuru led from the front, quite literally.

Although he was a senior figure in the Zanla war machine, he did not use this privilege to shield himself from the grim realities of the battlefield.

He was always on the frontline, sharing risks with the rank and file.

It would have been impossible not to admire such a man. This explains why he was loved and trusted by the masses.

With the armed struggle won and concluded, there came a period of mistrust and uncertainty.

What would happen to the Zanla, Zipra and Rhodesian soldiers?

What would be their role in an independent Zimbabwe?

Those were trying times, fraught with immense difficulties.

Uniting the Zanla, Zipra and Rhodesian forces was never going to be easy. Zanla and Zipra could come together, of course, united by the cause of freedom and democracy. How about the Rhodies? How would they be integrated into the new Zimbabwe Defence Forces (ZDF) and could they ever be trusted?

Gen Mujuru played a crucial role in uniting the three fighting machines, leading to the creation of a stable, solid and respected ZDF.

Ever the unifier, those close to him say he was deeply saddened by the post-independence horror known by the name Gukurahundi and the military clashes between former Zanla and Zipra cadres that plunged the newly independent Zimbabwe into political and ethnic convulsions. Cde Rex had himself received military training under Zipra. He had also been one of the commanders of the Zipa project which brought Zanla and Zipra together.

After steering Zimbabwe’s military in the right direction, Gen Mujuru retired and ventured into politics. He became one of the most approachable parliamentarians the country has ever seen. Unlike other politicians, he did not surround himself with layers and layers of red tape. He listened to ordinary folk and would stop for a friendly chat with just about anyone.

He was humanity personified. Many were puzzled by his interaction with ordinary citizens. The man was revered by the masses and held in awe by his opponents.

There has been a lot of political talk following the tragic fire that took Gen Mujuru’s life.

Politicians will always talk, but they must talk less and deliver more to the masses.

Politicians should put the people first. As the nation braces for a vigorous election campaign, every politician has to remember this.

For Zanu-PF, winning the forthcoming election is not rocket science: the party must simply return to its founding values which put the people first. The party of liberation must prioritise delivery to the masses on bread and butter issues, fight corruption, defend our freedom and democracy, and reconnect with young people.

Gallant sons and daughters of Zimbabwe have made immense sacrifices to get Zanu-PF where it is today. It is now the responsibility of members to rejuvenate the party. When they examine Cde Rex’s life and how effortlessly he related with the masses, they will find their organisational strategy’s missing link.

For the other political parties, the message is this: Zimbabweans may differ along ideological and tactical lines, but we should be united by the national interest.

Our independence, sovereignty, land and economic empowerment are sacrosanct and no politician, living or unborn, should ever entertain hopes of subverting these nationalist values.

Anything else would be a betrayal of the principles espoused by the late Gen Mujuru and all the other heroes of our struggle for liberation.

-The Sunday Mail

The other side of Mujuru in struggle

Sunday, 21 August 2011 02:10
By Emilia Zindi

“Taigara mumakomo, magorira mumakomo, taimhanyamhanya takabata sabhu tichishingirira Zimbabwe. Vakomana, vasikana, Zimbabwe, magorira munguva yehondo, hona taimhanya-mhanya takabata sabhu tichishingirira Zimbabwe.”

THIS song will always remind liberation war veterans of the late national hero, Cde Rex Nhongo (Retired General Solomon Tapfumaneyi Mujuru).

The legendary freedom fighter and army commander was known for using his dancing skills to motivate young combatants who had joined the liberation struggle.

With Cde Chinx (Dickson Chingaira) leading the vocals in the middle of the bush at a base in Mozambique, combatants under the tutelage of the late Cde Nhongo would indeed forget the hardships that were associated with the armed struggle once their commander took to the dance floor.

Those who worked with the late national hero last week spoke passionately and at length on how Cde Rex Nhongo would inspire young recruits (both male and female) to soldier on when the going got tough.

With female combatants, Cde Nhongo was more of a father as he would always remind them that they had joined the liberation struggle not as women, but as soldiers who were expected to behave likewise.

One female combatant who recalls how Cde Nhongo made life easier for women in the struggle is Cde Chipo Mafararikwa.

She first worked with Cde Nhongo in Zambia after the arrest of the late Cde Josiah Tongogara and others on suspicion of plotting the death of Cde Herbert Chitepo in 1975.

“I accompanied Cde Nhongo from Zambia to Tanzania where he was to lead the struggle while Cde Tongogara was in detention in Zambia,’’ recalled Cde Mafararikwa.

She and three other female combatants, namely Cathreen Garanewako, Serbia and Loveness Taitezvi Mogarepi and two young men fled with Cde Nhongo to Mgagao in Tanzania.

There they became the first female combatants to live at the base, which was only for male combatants.

From that time at Mgagao, the late Cde Nhongo, who had assumed charge of the liberation struggle, proved beyond doubt that he was a true liberator.

“It was at Mgagao where Cde Nhongo taught us as female combatants that the war of liberation would not have a meaning if female combatants did not go to the front,’’ she said.

She recalled the arrival of Cde Robert Mugabe in Tanzania where she and her three female colleagues were assigned to go and welcome him in Dar es Salaam.

“After meeting President Mugabe, we were told by Cde Nhongo that we were to move to Mozambique,’’ she said.

She said they travelled with Cde Nhongo on a ship to Maputo for three days and, along the way, Cde Nhongo would not stop lecturing them on the armed struggle for independence.

In 1977, Cde Nhongo directed that female combatants be sent to the front.

“Our group was appointed to go to the front where we carried ammunition as we reinforced our male counterparts who were already on the front,’’ she recalled.

She remembered the humourous side of Cde Nhongo who would constantly tease her by singing Zexie Manatsa’s hit song “Chipo Chirorwa (Tipemberere)” which was released back then in the 70s.

“He would sing that song and dance at the same time. I remember asking him why he always sang that song each time we were about to go to the front and he would just laugh,’’ recalled Cde Chipo.

She said the late commander was so humble and would always crack jokes when morale was low in the camps.

“He was so fatherly and whenever a combatant was down, he would find a way to cheer him or her up.”

Another female combatant, Cde Jilly Flamingo (Irene Zindi), said: “He was more of a friend than a commander to me when we lived with him at Chimoio, Mabvondo and all the other military bases in Mozambique.’’

She recalled a day when Cde Nhongo brought chickens and mealie-meal for the combatants when they had gone for days without food.

“We managed to cook that meat for three days. There was high morale in the camp with the commander around,’’ she said.

“He was so humble that he would associate with any combatant regardless of rank.

“We would eat with him from one plate despite the fact that he was our commander. He was quite a charismatic person who would get along with every one, finding conversation with the most junior combatant,’’ she said.

“He was a good strategist, formidable and able to lead the struggle after Cde Tongo’s death,’’ she said.

She said he would give orders, which no one would defy.

“Once he said “Ndinopika namai vangu Maidei” every one would do exactly as he directed.

She said his teachings at the Political Academy at Mampoa made her even stronger as she became one of the first female combatants to be sent to the front by the late Cde Nhongo.

“He was the commander sending reinforcements to the front. That is when we were selected as the first group of women to bring in heavy artillery,’’ said Cde Flamingo.

She said most people thought Cde Nhongo would not survive the war but his bravery and military genius had seen him through.

Cde Chinx said he would forever remember Cde Nhongo as his mentor.

“I hope and trust our spirits and those of his family shall guide us as to what transpired as it is difficult to believe that he waited for the fire to engulf him to ashes,’’ said Cde Chinx.

He said as a commander, Cde Nhongo had taught and trained him how to run away from fires.

Solomon Mujuru the farmer

Sunday, 21 August 2011 01:57
By Emilia Zindi

PLAYERS in the agriculture sector have described the late Cde Solomon Mujuru as a farmer par excellence who will be missed, especially at tobacco auction floors which he frequented during the marketing season.

He majored in tobacco farming and delivered between 800 and 1 000 bales each season.

Former Zimbabwe Farmers’ Union vice president Cde Edward Raradza said memories of the national hero would be difficult to erase.

He said Cde Mujuru played a pivotal role in returning land to its rightful owners.

“We are farmers today because he freed this land. The farming community will never be the same without him,’’ he said.

Zimbabwe Commercial Farmers’ Union president Mr Donald Khumalo said the farming community had been robbed of a gallant son of the soil who would be difficult to replace.

“We will forever remember this gallant son who liberated the land to ensure we became the proud black farmers we are today,” he said.

War veteran and farmer Cde Edward Matanhike said: “He was the brains behind my farming ventures. He once told me that the wealth we were in search of was in the land.

“He said we should feed the nation by working hard on the farms.’’

Mr Morris Chiwanga, a successful farmer from Beatrice, said he owes his success to the late army general who was his mentor.

“There are not many people who are successful and willing to share their secrets to success. The general was in a league of his own,” he said.

“He always gave me sound advice and whenever I ran into any problems he would assist me in every possible way.”

Justice and Legal Affairs Minister Cde Patrick Chinamasa said Cde Mujuru would forever be remembered for his contribution to black empowerment.

With a total of more than 150 employees on his Beatrice farm, the late war veteran was always ahead in farming preparations.

He had already done land preparation for this season with the tobacco seedbed ready for transplanting any time from now.

Some of the workers at his farm were busy at work last week, albeit mourning the death of their boss.

“He had already done land preparation for this season. We were to start planting in September as he had indicated,’’ said a worker, Mrs Patricia Zambuko.

Mrs Zambuko has worked for Cde Mujuru since 2001.

“His major crop was tobacco. He was also into maize production and wildlife,’’ she said.

A security guard at the farm, Mr Charles Katonha, worked for the national hero since 1983.

“He had become more of a father to me. He helped the workers a lot during the hyperinflation period, sourcing foodstuffs for us,’’ he said.

He said Cde Mujuru would at times get involved in the work in the fields, especially during planting and harvesting. “He would participate, spending the day with workers in the field.’’

Dadirai Tazvivinga, who also works on the farm, added: “He loved farming. He was always here attending to operations.’’

-The Sunday mail

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