By Fidelis Munyoro
Zanu-PF Politburo member and former Matabeleland North Governor Cde Thokozile Angela Mathuthu, who died on Monday at her home in Harare and was declared a national heroine, is expected to be buried at the National Heroes Acre on Sunday. She was 61.
Home Affairs Minister and Zanu-PF secretary for Administration Cde Obert Mpofu yesterday said Cde Mathuthu’s burial had been tentatively set for Sunday.
“We have been consulting with the family and they have given us Sunday as the tentative day for burial,” he said.
A family member, Mr Gilbert Gumpo, yesterday told mourners at the family home that the family was working with the Ministry of Home Affairs on burial arrangements.
“Provisional programme indicates that burial is set for Sunday here in Harare,” he said.
Mr Gumpo said according to the programme, Cde Mathuthu’s body would leave Harare on Thursday for Hwange where it will lie in state at her house.
He said the body would be flown to Bulawayo the following day to give people in the country’s second largest city an opportunity to bid farewell to Cde Mathuthu.
“The final church service for Cde Mathuthu will be held on Saturday by her church, the Seventh Day Adventist Church here in Harare ahead of burial the following day,” said Mr Gumpo.
The heroine’s husband, Cde Jonathan Mathuthu told our Bulawayo Bureau last night that a service will be held at Hwange Colliery Stadium at 0900hrs on Thursday.
Matabeleland North Provincial Administrator Ms Latiso Dlamini said in Bulawayo, the body will be at either the Amphitheatre or Large City Hall on Friday.
“We are, however, still waiting for finer details on the whole programme,” she said.
Yesterday, heads of Government departments, leaders of local authorities, service chiefs and other stakeholders met at the Provincial Administrator’s office in Lupane to plan the funeral programme.
Chiefs Council president Chief Fortune Charumbira yesterday led a delegation of nine chiefs to pay condolences at the Mathuthu family home in Belvedere, Harare.
Chief Charumbira described Cde Mathuthu as a dedicated, selfless, humble-measured and straight forward woman who worked tirelessly for the country.
“She was respectful of chiefs and a cultured woman who worked well with us,” he said. “She was hard-working and dedicated cadre in the ruling Zanu-PF party.
“As chiefs attending a State function here in the capital today, we decided that we come here to pay our condolences to you, Mr (Jonathan) Mathuthu.”
Chief Charumbira hailed President Mnangagwa for conferring Cde Mathuthu with national heroine status, saying she deserved it considering her contribution to the development of the country.
“We agreed with the decision taken to have her declared a national heroine,” he said. “We are indeed happy with the decision.”
Zanu-PF top officials, among them Senate president Cde Edna Madzongwe, Cde Sithembiso Nyoni, Cde Tsitsi Muzenda and Cde Abigail Damasane also visited the Mathuthu family home.
People from Matebeleland North province yesterday hailed President Mnangagwa and the Zanu-PF Politburo for conferring national heroine status on Cde Mathuthu.
Speaking in separate interviews on the side-lines of the Defence Forces Day celebrations at Somhlolo Stadium yesterday, political leaders and senior government officers said Cde Mathuthu will be remembered for spearheading development projects that transformed Lupane into a town and provincial capital.
They said the province had been “orphaned” without Cde Mathuthu, whom they described as a unifier, hard worker, mother and humble leader.
They said she relocated to Lupane from Bulawayo at a time other senior government officials and some civil servants refused to relocate, citing lack of accommodation and poor living conditions.
The Provincial Administrator Ms Dhlamini said she owes her success to Cde Mathuthu’s mentorship and humble character.
“I started working with her in 2005 when I became PA for the province and we were together when she was Governor between 2007 and 2013,” she said.
“She sacrificed the comfort of Mhlahlandlela Government Complex in Bulawayo and saw it fit to relocate to Lupane where we shared a small office.
“All she wanted was development and we saw this in her efforts to have Lupane State University, Bubi-Lupane Dam and Elitsheni Government Complex which are the three projects that she started and are complete today.
“We lost a fighter who wanted to see our province develop and we are happy that she was declared a national heroine.”
The Minister of State for Matabeleland North Cde Cain Mathema paid tribute to his predecessor, saying her vision should live on in the province.
“As we are all aware, our former Governor and Minister of State Cde Mathuthu, who was Central Committee and Politburo member is no more and she has been declared a national heroine,” he said.
“We are together with the Mathuthu family as she was one of our heroines of the liberation struggle and one of few who after independence continued working for the party and government.”
Kusile Rural District Council chief executive Mr Christopher Chuma said Lupane grew into a town due to Cde Mathuthu’s efforts.
“I speak on behalf of all local authorities and this is a great loss to us all because when she used to chair meetings she would never segregate anyone on political party lines,” he said. “She led us in a motherly manner, we would eat together without her showing any bossy character
“She did a lot for the district and was instrumental in positioning Lupane into what it is today, with Lupane State University, Bubi-Lupane Dam, and the passport office among other developments she brought.”
Zanu-PF Women’s League provincial chair for Matabeleland North Cde Medeline Bhebhe described Cde Mathuthu as a God-fearing individual who always wanted women to be empowered through projects and senior positions in the party.
“Our hearts are heavy because we lost a mother who inspired us all by her sacrifice to stay in Lupane when everyone preferred the comfort of Bulawayo,” she said.
Her sentiments were echoed by Chief Mabhikwa who said Cde Mathuthu was not only a mother to her family, but the whole province.
Zanu-PF chairman for Matabeleland North Cde Richard Moyo said they were thankful to the party’s Politburo for according Cde Mathuthu national heroine status.
Members of the Zanu-PF Women’s League in Mashonaland West province yesterday described the death of Cde Mathuthu as a great loss both to the nation and the party.
In an interview, Cde Madzongwe said Cde Mathuthu was a dedicated party cadre who worked tirelessly, both for the country and party despite her health challenges.
“I remember one day when we needed to vote for an amendment in the Senate, she left her hospital bed just to cast her vote and after that drove back to the hospital,” she said.
Zanu-PF Women’s League national secretary for gender and culture Cde Jennifer Mhlanga said Cde Mathuthu was a selfless party cadre who left a gap that can never be filled.
“As the Women’s League, we have lost one of our pillars and a reliable party cadre,” she said. “It is not only a loss to the Mathuthu family, but also to the nation as a whole.”
Zvimba North MP-elect Cde Marian Chombo described Cde Mathuthu as a great political mentor who was willing to groom upcoming politicians for the benefit of the party.
“She was approachable and very welcoming,” she said. “Unfortunately, she was taken at a time I was hoping to visit her for proper guidance in the political field. Cde Mathuthu was one of those women who had a lot of experience in politics.”
National Assembly member for Mhangura Cde Precious Chinhamo Masango said Cde Mathuthu was a peace loving person who hated divisions in the party.
President Mnangagwa announced Cde Mathuthu’s heroine status when he visited the family home to pay his condolences on Monday.
Cde Mathuthu was born on March 26, 1957 in Bulawayo and she became active politically in the 1970s.
Between 1975 and 1978, she was a committee member of the Zapu Youth Wing and assisted combatants operating in the Tinde and Kamativi areas.
At independence, she was a committee member of the Zapu Women’s Wing between 1980 and 1982 and later rose to become deputy chairperson of the same wing in Nengasha district, Hwange.
She was also involved in the integration committees during talks between Zanu and Zapu.
Cde Mathuthu was then elected Secretary for Administration for the Matabeleland North provincial Women’s League between 1987 and 1993 and secretary for transport and social welfare in the national executive of the Women’s League between 1994 and 1999.
In 2000, Cde Mathuthu was appointed deputy secretary for transport and social welfare in the Politburo and was promoted to secretary of the portfolio in 2005.
Between 2005 and 2013, she was appointed Governor for Matabeleland North.
Between 2015 and 2016, Cde Mathuthu was Deputy Minister of Information, Media and Broadcasting Services.
Cde Mathuthu is survived by her husband Jonathan and four children – two boys and two girls. Mourners are gathered at No.12 Catalina Road in Belvedere, Harare. The Herald