By Wadzanai Mhombera
Yes all of us shall die, even the Bible says our citizenship is in heaven. But leaving Mother Earth in such a shocking and excruciating way?
Who could ever imagine a person die in such a horrific manner?
General Solomon Mujuru, whose Chimurenga name was Cde Rex Nhongo, could have died in the liberation struggle through various ways such as the bullet, the landmines, the grenades, the bombs – the list is endless, but shockingly, the true soldier and military strategist had to go in this sad manner.
In my career as a journalist, I have had the privilege to present on national television ZBC’s live coverage of the burial of national heroes at the national shrine, as well as participate in the production of programmes in honour of the country’s national heroes, but I have never seen political leaders in this country shed tears in the manner they have done following General Mujuru’s passing on.
Cde Saviour Kasukuwere openly wept as he consoled Vice President Joice Mujuru, the wife of the late General; Cde Dzikamai Mavhaire could not hold back his tears at Gen Mujuru’s farm in Beatrice; the First Lady Amai Grace Mugabe cried as she consoled Mai Mujuru; Cde Tendai Savanhu could be seen wiping tears from his eyes; Cde Ray Kaukonde was tearful when he announced that Zanu PF Mashonaland East province had requested that Gen Mujuru be accorded national hero status, though it was just a formality; State Security Minister, Dr Sydney Sekeramayi tried very hard to hold his tears while narrating how he received news of the late General’s painful death.
In everyone who has spoken since the passing on of the late national hero, one could see a sorrowful, tearful, confused, shocked and unbelieving face. And indeed who could have imagined such dying?
Even the Head of State and Government and Commander-in-Chief of the Zimbabwe Defence Forces, President Robert Mugabe could not understand death can came in the way it did to the former Commander General of the ZDF: “I have never seen a person die in such a horrific manner, we are all shocked,” said President Mugabe and he added “I knew him in 1976 outside the country. He was one of those in the first line of command during the war of liberation and was so influential in the organisation of the struggle.”
General Mujuru is credited for being very influential in the formation of the Zimbabwe Defence Forces at independence. Combining three different armies was no easy task which needed patience, tolerance, perseverance and commitment, of which the unassuming Cde Rex was equal to the task.
The Zimbabwe African National Liberation Army (ZANLA), the Zimbabwe People’s Revolutionary Army (ZIPRA) and the Rhodesian Forces then came together to form a united Zimbabwe Defence Forces through the sterling work and strategising of people like Gen Mujuru.
General Mujuru did not talk much, led a care free life, was unassuming, but was a very capable officer. Here is a great man who worked hard for Zimbabwe before and after independence but remained humble until the time of his death.
Indeed he was one of the most illustrious military leaders of his time. He was in the mould of the late General Josiah Magama Tongogara, the late Air Chief Marshal Josiah Tungamirai, the late Retired Commander General of the ZDF, Vitalis Zvinavashe, just to name a few who excelled as military strategists during the struggle for emancipation.
Here’s what his colleagues in political life and during the liberation struggle have said:
“We have worked together for a very long time and his death is indeed a great loss to the nation.” – (Cde Simon Khaya Moyo, Zanu PF National Chairman)
‘We extend our utmost sincere and heartfelt condolences to Mai Mujuru, her children, the Zanu PF party and the entire nation at large. May the Mujuru family take comfort and solace in the knowledge that our thoughts and prayers are with them at this most trying and difficult time.” – (Cde Walter Mzembi, Minister of Tourism and Hospitality Industry).
“I knew Cde Mujuru as a dedicated son of the soil who sacrificed his life to liberate the country.” - (Former Chief Secretary to the President and Cabinet, Dr Charles Utete).
“Cde Mujuru was like a father to us. He had even allocated 3 hectares of land to each of us, the farm workers, and what is more painful about his death is that he had planned to double his tobacco hectarage this season.” - (Mr. Isdore Makusha, one of the workers in charge of the tobacco crop at Gen Mujuru’s farm).
“The late Retired General Mujuru was a down-to-earth character who spoke his mind out without fear or favour.” - (Chivi Central Legislator, Cde Paul Mangwana).
“The late Mujuru was a unifier who ensured that even though people had different viewpoints, they worked together for a common purpose.” - (Goromonzi West Legislator, Cde Beatrice Nyamupinga).
“He is a person I knew from the liberation struggle. That one is a hero, if he is not who would be? Can I claim to be a hero over him? Not at all! We are talking of an icon.” – (Former Defence Minister Enos Nkala).
“He is an icon of the liberation struggle of this country. He was not a tribalist. He was not a person who liked to talk, but when he opened his mouth, you would not help but just marvel that this is a true leader.” - (Matabeleland South Governor and Resident Minister, Cde Angeline Masuku).
“He was a national leader for all the people and no doubt he is a national hero. His death shocked us all especially after surviving all the bombings in Zambia and Maputo up to independence.” – (Zanu PF Politburo member, Dr Sikhanyiso Ndlovu).
Retired General Solomon Tapfumaneyi Mujuru, a.k.a Cde Rex Nhongo, has been accorded national hero status. Here is a man whose hero status did not need a Politburo meeting. Yes, the meeting was held, but I am sure it was just a formality. It is undoubted that Gen Mujuru is a national hero and it is befitting that he will lie at the national shrine together with some of his colleagues whom he fought alongside in the liberation struggle.
I trust that progressive Zimbabweans from all walks of life, from Mutare to Victoria Falls, Binga to Mt Darwin, will converge at the National Heroes Acre on Saturday, the 20th of August to give a befitting send off to yet another gallant son of the soil, General Solomon Mujuru.
May the Almighty comfort Vice President Joice Mujuru, the entire Mujuru family and the nation at large.
Cde Rex Nhongo, may your soul rest in eternal peace, zororai murugare gamba remagamba, lala ngokuthula qhawe lamaqhawe.
The opinions expressed in this article are the author’s and do not necessarily represent those of the Zimbabwe Broadcasting Corporation.