By Robin Muchetu
The wife of the former President Canaan Banana, Janet, who died last week, will be laid to rest on Friday in Bembe, Esigodini, next to her husband as per her wish.
Mrs Banana (83) died at Mater Dei Hospital in Bulawayo on Thursday last week where she had been admitted. She had suffered a stroke and was also undergoing dialysis sessions for a kidney problem. President Mnangagwa said she will receive a State assisted funeral.
In an interview yesterday, her sister, Mrs Sanele Ngwenya at their Luveve home, said tentatively, they had slated the burial for Friday.
“The tentative date is Friday and this is because we are waiting for her children from the United Kingdom and sisters too to come down. This is why we have pushed it to Friday. The burial is definitely in Bembe, Esigodini,” she said.
Mrs Ngwenya said she was pained that her sister died during a difficult time.
“Kubuhlungu because she passed on during such a time (Covid-19 era), umhlaba ujikile with this pandemic. We are all trying to ensure we survive and we are practising social distancing, proper masking and sanitising. Had it not been for Covid-19, ngabe kubomvu lapha ekhaya because she was a staunch Methodist Church in Zimbabwe member. I know the Methodist family is mourning with us,” said Mrs Ngwenya.
She said she was grateful to the support that has been rendered by the Government.
“We are grateful for all those that are with us in mourning on all platforms as that is the new way, we are mourning, online. We know we cannot change it but that is the new normal. We are grateful for the support we have received so far. We have received tremendous support from Government,” she added.
Mrs Ngwenya reiterated that Mrs Banana’s failure to mourn and bury her son, Michael affected her until her death.
“My sister was torn by the death of her son Michael in the UK and I would like to believe that contributed to a lot of her pain. The Government tried its best to repatriate the body for burial in Zimbabwe but because of Covid-19 it became very difficult. She also wanted to later go and see his final resting place and place flowers so that she could get closure but she failed because of travel restrictions. We kept assuming the situation would improve but unfortunately, she couldn’t and damage was done already,” she said.
Mrs Banana’s son, Nathan, said his mother suffered a stroke and was hospitalised. However, she was struggling to recover after that stroke. Mrs Banana had been back in the country after spending years in the United Kingdom. A couple of years ago she received a brand-new Ford Everest car from the Government as part of her benefits upon her return.
The Government had made a commitment to pay Mrs Banana’s medical bills in addition to other benefits after she returned to Zimbabwe after an 18-year stay in the UK. All former First Ladies are entitled to certain packages. Mrs Banana had vowed not to go back to the UK as she was now at peace in the country.
Her husband died in November 2003. Mrs Banana is survived by three children. Mourners are gathered at Number 99 Luveve in Bulawayo. The Sunday News