Tendai Mugabe and Abigail Mawonde—
ZANU-PF Politburo member Cde George Rutanhire, who died at Karanda Mission Hospital on Saturday, has been declared a national hero. He was 68. Zanu-PF secretary for Administration Cde Ignatius Chombo confirmed the decision last night. “Cde Rutanhire has been unanimously declared a national hero,” said Cde Chombo.
“We are discussing with the family to find a suitable day for burial. That is the only thing outstanding and the media will be advised in due course on burial dates.”
Zanu-PF yesterday described Cde Rutanhire as a reliable man who led from the front and never boasted about his role in the liberation struggle.
In a statement last night, Zanu-PF spokesperson Cde Simon Khaya Moyo said the party was saddened by the loss of Cde Rutanhire, who headed the Chitepo Ideological School.
“The revolutionary Zanu-PF party has learnt with shock and dismay of the untimely death of Cde George Rutanhire who passed on at the weekend at Karanda Mission Hospital in Mt Darwin.
“Cde Rutanhire was a tested cadre and courageous leader of the liberation struggle in all respects.
“He never boasted about his role in the liberation struggle. He remained a man of enviable simplicity, humble, focused, hardworking, approachable, reliable and always led from the front,” he said.
Cde Khaya Moyo described Cde Rutanhire’s death as a loss to the family and the nation at large.
“His family is now without a beacon, Zimbabwe has been robbed of an astute war veteran and mankind is now poor by his unexpected departure.
“We will all miss this great personality. In wishing his family strength and staying power, may his soul anchor and rest in eternal peace,” said Cde Khaya Moyo.
Mashonaland Central, Cde Rutanhire’s home province, had written to Zanu-PF Cde Chombo recommending that he be declared a national hero.
The recommendation was bolstered by the Ministry of Welfare Services for War Veterans, War Collaborators, Former Political Detainees and Restrictees, which made a similar request.
Minister of State for Mashonaland Central Provincial Affairs Advocate Martin Dinha, who was accompanied by members of the provincial Joint Operations Command, visited Cde Rutanhire’s Tizora Farm to pay his condolences.
In his remarks, Adv Dinha recounted Cde Rutanhire’s illustrious political career adding that he deserved the national hero status conferred on him.
“His contribution to this country is invaluable. Cde Rutanhire is a gallant son who fought for the liberation of this country. We all remember the great work that he did at Chibondo to ensure that some of our fallen heroes got decent burial. He was part of the team that authored the Mgagao Declaration that confirmed President Mugabe as leader of Zanu dismissing Ndabaningi Sithole as a sellout.”
Adv Dinha urged the Rutanhire family to take comfort from the great work that Cde Rutanhire did for his country.
Permanent Secretary in the Ministry responsible for the Welfare of Veterans, Ex Detainees and War Collaborators Retired Brigadier General Walter Tapfumaneyi said: “Cde Rutanhire was a very senior member from the days of the liberation struggle. He has a very strong history… We were assisting him as a Ministry and we had plans of taking him outside the country to receive treatment but he was thinking otherwise. We learnt of his latest condition a bit late.”
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 and in 1966 he was involved in 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 in Tanzania.
In 1973 he was recalled from the war front after he was shot on the leg and at one point he represented the party 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 to reorganise the war after the death of Cde Herbert Chitepo.
In June the same year to September, he participated in the crafting of the Mgagao Declaration together with Cdes Rex Nhongo, Constantine Chiwenga, Perence 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 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 that he held until his death.
Cde Rutanhire is survived by his three wives Susan Rutanhire, Safire Kutyauripo and Sofia Ishemunyoro and eight children.