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Mujuru death leaves Zimbabwe shell-shocked

Retired General Solomon Tapfumaneyi Mujuru’s death has shocked the nation. However, for the people in Chikomba district and in particular Mutusva Village where he was born and grew up, his death has come as a painful event they never expected and one that would linger in their minds for a long time.

Robert Mugabe consoles a weeping Joice Mujuru
Robert Mugabe consoles a weeping Joice Mujuru

The most difficult thing for them to fathom is Rtd Gen Mujuru’s demise in an inferno. Most of the villagers, some who saw him grow up, are shocked that a man synonymous with the bullet just dies in a fire. They do not understand how a career soldier died such a mysterious death.

While they are mourning together with the nation, the villagers are also celebrating the life and career of a fearless soldier who became a household name especially in Zimbabwe’s liberation and political life. To the villagers and his relatives, Tapfumaneyi was that lanky and dark schoolboy who disappeared during the late 1960s to command the Zanla forces and later lead Zimbabwe’s armed forces.

The relatives talk of a boy who, because of his stammer, was quick with his fists. They, however, talk of a young man who grew up to be a “jolly good fellow” whose witty jokes were legendary. Politically, Rtd Gen Mujuru has been described as a leader who advised the district leadership.

Government officials, relatives, friends and the local community look at the burnt house in which General Solomon Mujuru died at his farm in Beatrice yesterday
Government officials, relatives, friends and the local community look at the burnt house in which General Solomon Mujuru died at his farm in Beatrice yesterday

Zanu-PF district co-ordinating committee chairman, Cde Shame Chibvongodze, said: “To us in the district, General Mujuru was a leader, a visionary and an advisor whom we could trust and see when we have problems.  “We have lost a leader, a father figure and a person we always looked forward to interact with more as we grew up politically.”

Cde Chibvongodze urged people in Chikomba to come and bid farewell to one of the district’s gallant sons. Rtd Gen Mujuru’s sister, Ambuya Kamura Mutusva, was overwhelmed and failed to say much. “He was such a humble man. A quiet man who protected his family even during the days when he was in the bush,” she said.

She said the whole family never starved as Rtd Gen Mujuru strove to feed them. Mr Stan Mutusva, a nephew of Rtd Gen Mujuru, who is also an ex-soldier, said his uncle made sure his family was not affected by his participation in the war. “He made particular arrangements that the family was protected especially because he was out there fighting for Zimbabwe’s independence,” he said.

Mr Mutusva said Rtd Gen Mujuru was a family man at heart. “The Mutusva and Juru family is very big but Gen Mujuru became a father to us all. He provided for the whole family and the community in general,” he said. He said the General encouraged people to be initiative, independent and self reliant.

“We built this road on our own when Rtd Gen Mujuru said he would assist with 100 bags of cement if we wanted to build the bridge. He wanted us to do something for him to assist. That was the man we grew up to understand,” he said.

Rtd Gen Mujuru assisted in the construction of the hospital and dam at Sadza Growth Point while he had a hand in the establishment of the Neshangwe High School in the area. Other villagers talked of a man whose pending visits brought excitement for the community.

“Everyone would wait in anticipation if word had it that the General was coming. We have benefited immensely from projects he and Vice President Amai Mujuru initiated in the village,” one woman said. The community benefited from a thriving chicken project that saw each household getting a chicken run built at their homesteads.

The last word came from his sister-in-law, Prisca. She had nothing but funny reminiscences of the man she saw grow. “Ndakauya pano kachiri kakomana katete-tete kari karefu. He was a funny man. I remember one day he picked my newly-born baby with the index finger saying he wanted to check if the baby was his indeed.

“I panicked but still, with that stammer, he laughed at me saying the baby was safe,” she said. “He had a serious stammer and because people would be quicker than him, he was quick to lose his temper and strike. He was such a fighter even in his youthful days,” she said.

Rtd Gen Mujuru, loved by all Zimbabweans, kept a very strong relationship with his relatives and fellow villagers. A young man, who before his sudden disappearance to join the liberation struggle, was known for a stammer that was quickly replaced by a flurry of fists, grew to be a hero, a hero who liberated Zimbabwe.

Rtd Gen Mujuru, the young boy whom his family members would rely on to revenge any family member assaulted when he was at boarding school, died in a manner that has shocked Zimbabwe.

Rtd Gen Mujuru, a friendly man, revered by many in the Beatrice farming community, the people of Chikomba district and his close family at Mutusva Village near Sadza Growth Point leaves a legacy for Zimbabweans to fight to the last man for the protection of Zimbabwe’s sovereignty and independence.

In Harare thousands of people thronged the Mujuru residence in Chisipite to convey their condolences. Zimbabwe Federation of Trade Unions’ Ephraim Tsvaringe said: “To us he was a living testimony of a gallant fighter who sacrificed his life so that we could rid the country of the punitive yoke of colonialism.”

Cde Alfred Makwarimba of the other ZFTU faction said the death was a loss to the nation. “Today workers enjoy all this freedom and it’s all because of this man. He fought for the independence of the country.” Mr Morris Chiwanga, a farmer said, “He played an instrumental role in the toppling of the colonial Rhodesian administration through guerrilla warfare.”

Bishop Ollah Juru, who was a war collaborator in Chikomba District, paid tribute to Gen Mujuru. “During the war he was the pillar of the struggle. The prominent place of Retired General Mujuru among the great generals of the African revolution is indisputable and the work that he has done speaks volumes of this outstanding guerrilla leader of his generation,” Bishop Juru said.

“For his exceptional accomplishments as the luminary and conscience of African nationalism, the fulcrum of liberation efforts and for his outstanding contribution to Zimbabwe’s liberation struggle against colonialism and all its tentacles we should salute this gallant son of the soil,” Harare businessman Nigel Patsanza said.

A manager at Zimcafe, a pub in Harare, Mr George Nduku said he was touched when patrons observed a moment of silence on Tuesday night during news hour on ZBC-TV in of Gen Mujuru. “He was a man of the people and this is why many people are mourning him. It was a touching moment when his death was announced on ZBC-TV,” he said.

A barber in the city centre who chose to identify himself as Mutsa said: “He was a great commander who soldiered on despite many challenges. We will miss him.”

Debt collector Mr Farai Chitsinde said: “He was a kind person who was down to earth and never bragged about his stature and success in life. The general was a great man of the people who humbled himself and this is what young people should emulate. May his soul rest in eternal peace.” Mr Geoffrey Shumba from Glen View also described the late general as a gallant freedom fighter.

“We remember and cherish his contribution to the struggle for the emancipation of Zimbabwe. He represents a rare breed of true heroes never to be forgotten for fighting for the country’s total ownership and control of resources. “He was a man of principle and integrity,” said Mr Shumba. The Herald