By Mashudu Netsianda
Bulawayo commercial farmer and the late Vice-President Joshua Nkomo’s longtime friend, Cde Gerhard Friedrich Georg, who died on Monday last week, has been declared a liberation war hero in recognition of the sacrifices he made during the liberation struggle.
Cde Georg (90) died at Mater Dei Hospital in Bulawayo after a short illness and was buried on Friday at Umvutshwa Park Cemetery in the city.
In a statement, Zanu-PF secretary for administration Cde Obert Mpofu confirmed that President Mnangagwa had conferred Cde Georg liberation war hero status. “His Excellency, the President and First Secretary to Zanu-PF, Cde Mnangagwa, has conferred liberation war hero status to the late Cde Gerhard Friedrich who died on November 25, 2019,” said Cde Mpofu.
Cde Georg’s daughter, Thabeth, yesterday said her father was a dedicated liberation cadre whose family was placed under constant surveillance by the Rhodesian Government after he decided to use his farm as a meeting place for freedom fighters.
“My father’s political contribution to the liberation struggle began when he met the late Vice-President Joshua Nkomo in 1960. When he bought a farm in Siphaziphazi in 1965, he used it as both a residence and meeting place for political gatherings until he was forced to relocate his family due to constant surveillance by the Ian Smith regime,” she said.
Cde Georg was born in Weilburg in Germany and migrated to Africa in 1954. He worked on several farms in South Africa before moving to Zimbabwe, which was then Rhodesia in 1956. He met Dr Nkomo in 1960 and the two forged a strong friendship.
In 1971, Cde Georg was employed by a Rhodesian commercial farmer to manage a factory in Bulawayo where he would take maize meal and other food stuffs to feed freedom fighters resulting in him being incarcerated for five months.
During the detention of some nationalists at Gonakudzingwa, Whawha and other detention camps, Cde Georg would chip in and assist their families with food and school fees for their children. Between 1972 and 1994, Cde Georg worked for the Bulawayo City Council starting off as a parks officer responsible for the maintenance and development of the city’s recreational parks and gardens.
He rose through the ranks to become senior parks officer in charge of the city’s environment, forestry and game projects. Cde Georg was instrumental in the establishment of Umguza and Mazwi nature reserves on the outskirts of Bulawayo.
He retired from the city council in 2013 and ventured into consultancy work for a plant nursery in Francistown in Botswana called German Society for International Co-operation and later St Luke’s Mission.
Cde Georg is survived by nine children, 21 grandchildren and four great grandchildren. The Chronicle