Tendai Mugabe in Centenary
National hero Cde George Rutanhire, who died at Karanda Mission Hospital last Saturday, will be buried at the National Heroes Acre on Saturday. The burial date was announced by Zanu-PF acting chairman for Mashonaland Central Province Cde Dickson Mafios at Cde Rutanhire’s Tizora Farm yesterday. Cde Mafios said he was mandated to make the announcement by Zanu-PF secretary for Administration Cde Ignatius Chombo, who could not travel to Centenary due to other pressing commitments.
“Cde Chombo was supposed to come and make this announcement after Cabinet together with Cde Saviour Kasukuwere (national commissar),” he said.
“Cde Chombo called me saying he has been asked to go to Angola together with Cde Kasukuwere to observe elections there over the weekend so they are leaving today. Their schedule could not allow them to come here so he said I should convey his message from President Mugabe that Cde Rutanhire has been declared a national hero.
“This status confirms what we have agreed as a province that Cde Rutanhire should be declared a national hero. Cde Chombo said the decision to confer the hero status on Cde Rutanhire was unanimous.
“We are now working with the family to ensure that Cde Rutanhire is buried at the National Heroes Acre on Saturday,” he said.
Cde Rutanhire’s body will lie in state in Harare ahead of burial on Saturday.
Cde Mafios described Cde Rutanhire as a selfless gallant fighter who fought for the liberation of his country.
Family spokesperson Mr Oscar Musanhu said : “As a family, I want to say we are humbled by the status bestowed on our son George. Let us work together until we leave him at his final resting place.”
Cde Rutanhire’s first wife Emilda Susan Rutanhire chronicled Cde Rutanhire’s life during and after the liberation struggle.
She said Cde Rutanhire joined the liberation struggle soon after their wedding in 1972.
“We went to Tanzania soon after our wedding. We donated some of our wedding presents to people on our way to Tanzania after we realised that we should liberate our country. In Tanzania, we were at different base stations. He was a jovial person and good at mobilising people.
“I feel saddened by his death because we were together since 1972. I want to thank President Mugabe and the party for according him national hero status. This is the status that befits him considering the work that he has done for this country.”
One of Cde Rutanhire’s sons, Peter, described his father as a dedicated cadre who put the interests of his country first.
“If you wanted to be closer to my father you would have prove to him that you have proper political orientation,” he said.
“He was a very brave man who liked his party and he always told us that Zimbabwe will never be a colony again.”
Cde Rutanhire was born Peter Clever Musanhu on April 15, 1949, at St Alberts Hospital.
He started revolutionary politics at St Alberts Mission in 1965.
In 1966, he led a student strike, boycotting lessons protesting the attack of the seven revolutionary cadres in Chinhoyi.
He joined the liberation struggle in 1972 and received military training at Mgagao Training Camp in Tanzania.
In 1973, he was recalled from the war front after he was shot in the leg.
At one point he represented Zanu in Sweden where he met Dr Sydney Sekeramayi, Cde Mayor Urimbo, Sally Mugabe and Zanu representative in Sweden Cde Cloudious Chokwenda.
In 1975, Cde Rutanhire was called back to Mgagao by General Josiah Magama Tongogara to join others and re-organise the war after the death of Cde Herbert Chitepo. In June the same year to September, he participated in the drafting of the Mgagao Declaration together with Cdes Rex Nhongo, Constantino Chiwenga, Perrance Shiri, Mernad Muzariri and Paradzai Zimondi.
At independence in 1980, he was elected Member of Parliament for Mashonaland Central Province and in 1981, he was appointed Deputy Minister for Youth, Sport and Recreation.
In 1981, he was elected member of the Central Committee and in 1985 he was elected Government Chief Whip.
He participated in the talks that led to the signing of the Unity Accord between Zanu-PF and Zapu in 1987.
In 2010, Cde Rutanhire was appointed Politburo member, a position he held until his death.
Cde Rutanhire is survived by his three wives Susan Rutanhire, Safire Kutyauripo and Sofia Ishemunyoro and eight children.