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General Mujuru’s last military parade

Zimbabweans from all walks of life yesterday thronged One Commando Barracks in Harare for the funeral parade of national hero General Solomon Mujuru. Commander of the Zimbabwe Defence Forces, General Constantine Chiwenga described him as a true revolutionary and an icon of the liberation struggle.

AIR Force Commander Air Marshal Perrance Shiri, Zimbabwe National Army Commander Lieutenant-General Phillip Sibanda and Zimbabwe Defence Forces Commander General Constantine Chiwengwa lead the funeral parade in honour of General Solomon Mujuru at One Commando Barracks in Harare yesterday
AIR Force Commander Air Marshal Perrance Shiri, Zimbabwe National Army Commander Lieutenant-General Phillip Sibanda and Zimbabwe Defence Forces Commander General Constantine Chiwengwa lead the funeral parade in honour of General Solomon Mujuru at One Commando Barracks in Harare yesterday

Gen Mujuru died in an inferno at his farmhouse in Beatrice. Senior Government and Zanu-PF officials among them Defence Minister Emmerson Mnangagwa, Media, Information and Publicity Minister Webster Shamu, diplomats and senior military officers from the region and abroad, attended the parade.

Gen Chiwenga chronicled Gen Mujuru’s history and urged the nation to safeguard the gains of the liberation struggle brought about by the former Zanla commander. “It is very clear to us that the late General was not an ordinary man. He committed his whole life to serving Zimbabwe and fought to defend its interests,” Gen Chiwenga said.

He said Gen Mujuru remained steadfast and focused in the face of neo-colonial aggression by Britain and its allies. “We must defend what he stood for . . . We must uphold the principles and values the General left us,” Gen Chiwenga said. He said Gen Mujuru was resolute in defending the gains of the liberation struggle and Zimbabwe’s independence and territorial integrity.

“We have lost a true revolutionary and an icon of Zimbabwe’s liberation struggle, a chief strategist, a tactician and distinguished commander,” Gen Chiwenga said. Gen Chiwenga said Gen Mujuru had throughout the war of independence exhibited “devotion and commitment to the liberation cause.”

This, he said, was shown by his decision to choose military training in Zambia instead of furthering his studies elsewhere. Gen Chiwenga said the first black army commander at independence loved peace and was at the forefront of condemning political violence. The ZDF Commander challenged Zimbabweans to uphold peace by desisting from acts of violence.

AIR Force Commander Air Marshal Perrance Shiri, Zimbabwe National Army Commander Lieutenant-General Phillip Sibanda and Zimbabwe Defence Forces Commander General Constantine Chiwengwa lead the funeral parade in honour of General Solomon Mujuru at One Commando Barracks in Harare yesterday
AIR Force Commander Air Marshal Perrance Shiri, Zimbabwe National Army Commander Lieutenant-General Phillip Sibanda and Zimbabwe Defence Forces Commander General Constantine Chiwengwa lead the funeral parade in honour of General Solomon Mujuru at One Commando Barracks in Harare yesterday

He chronicled the crucial role played by Gen Mujuru during and after the liberation war. Gen Mujuru, who received military training in several countries among them Zambia, Tanzania, Egypt, the former Union of Soviet Socialist Republics and Bulgaria was the first sectorial commander to lead the Zanla group of freedom fighters responsible for the opening up of North-East Zone of Zimbabwe.

“This is where the first bullet was fired, which then never stopped and everything happened until independence,” Gen Chiwenga said. He said the national hero was responsible for the expansion of the Zanla forces after Mozambique got its independence in 1975. Gen Chiwenga said Gen Mujuru further engineered the war on his appointment as Zanla chief of operations when he changed the execution of the struggle for independence from a guerilla to semi-convention war.

Vice President Mujuru flanked by her daughters on Thursday
Vice President Mujuru flanked by her daughters on Thursday

He narrated the pivotal role played by Gen Mujuru after independence, which included the integration of Zanla, Zipra and the Rhodesian forces into one national army. “His contribution towards the integration process was immeasurable. It was not an easy thing,” Gen Chiwenga said. He said Gen Mujuru successfully moulded the army into a professional unit envied by many in the region and abroad.

The ZDF commander said the national hero “was instrumental in harmonising relations” in the security sector and played “a crucial role in the politics of the country” when he retired from the army in 1992. He said the decorated soldier with several medals, played an important role in uplifting the standard of life for those in the army.

Thousands of mourners are today expected to throng Neshangwe Secondary School at Sadza Growth Point and Rudhaka Stadium in Marondera to bid farewell to Gen Mujuru. A sombre atmosphere engulfed Chikomba district as people try to come to terms with Gen Mujuru’s death. Today, Gen Mujuru’s remains will be flown to Sadza Growth Point before being taken to Rudhaka Stadium.

They will return to Harare the same day to lie in state at his residence before burial at the National Heroes Acre on Saturday. By last night, Government officials were putting final preparations at both venues. Earlier in the day, Zimbabweans from walks of life, including schoolchildren flocked the Mujuru home in Chisipite to pay their respects. Condolences continued to pour.

Many people and organisations sent their messages through Zanu PF national chairman, Cde Simon Khaya Moyo. Ambassador of the State of Palestine to Zimbabwe, Hashem Dajani, expressed sorrow on the death of the late freedom fighter.

“On behalf of the president of the State of Palestine, His Excellency Mahmoud Abbas, the Prime Minister, the government and the entire Palestinian Nation and indeed on my own behalf, I present my deepest condolences and sympathies to you and through you to the Vice President of the Republic of Zimbabwe, Mrs Joice Mujuru and the Mujuru family, the Zanu PF leadership and its party members and the entire nation of Zimbabwe on the tragic loss of one of the most illustrious and gallant sons of Zimbabwe, the former Zimbabwe National Army Commander General Solomon Mujuru.

“In this trying moment, we share the sorrow and the pain that you are facing hoping that you will overcome the consequences of this painful loss. We ask the Almighty God to give the Mujuru family, relatives, comrades and friends solace, patience and comfort,” Ambassador Dajani said. The Zimbabwe Teachers Association described Gen Mujuru as an illustrious son of the soil.

“The late Rtd General Solomon Mujuru was a true fighter and a gallant son of the soil who fought for the true liberation and emancipation of the people of Zimbabwe. Rtd Gen Mujuru will be greatly missed and be remembered as a man who fought for and taught the black indigenous people how to conquer and be successful in their own land.

“Indeed the nation has been robbed of one great man who dedicated himself to fighting for the freedom of his land and its people. On behalf of the 44 000 Zimta members and Zimta secretariat, I would like to express our deepest condolences to Amai Joice Mujuru, the Mujuru family and the entire Zimbabwean nation on the sad and tragic loss of the founding commander of the national army of independent Zimbabwe, General Solomon Tapfumanei Mujuru, may his soul rest in eternal peace,” said Zimta president, Ms Tendai Chikowore.

Minister Shamu paid tribute to Gen Mujuru describing him as “one of the founding pillars and principal architects of the armed struggle for independence.” He said Gen Mujuru’s stature commanded respect from both “ally and foe. He was truly patriotic, always prioritising national interest before personal. As a businessman and a politician, he was guided by true African principles and ethics of loyalty to one’s people, respect for traditional and national leaders, no-regionalism fairness and sovereignty.”

He said that taking a cue from Gen Mujuru’s life, journalists should maintain the highest professional and ethical standards as they carry out their duties not to base their stories on fabrication and speculation. Minister Shamu said his Chegutu East constituency, just like any other, was a beneficiary of the sacrifices made by the likes of Gen Mujuru during the liberation struggle.

Zimbabwe National Liberation War Veterans Association national chairman Cde Jabulani Sibanda, said Gen Mujuru had left a rich legacy. “What pains us most is that Cde Mujuru, the strategist, gallant fighter, commander and icon of the liberation struggle lived a life of bullets only to be killed by a fire,” he said.

Zanu-PF Harare province chairman, Cde Amos Midzi, said the history of the liberation struggle would be incomplete and unauthentic without Cde Mujuru’s name. “The province has learnt of the death with a deep sense of shock and pain. We are proud that he served his country, courageously, persistently and consistently to the surprise of the enemy.

“We are with the Mujuru family in these sad moments,” he said.

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