All set for national heroine burial Women Affairs, Community, Small and Medium Enterprise Development, Minister Sithembiso Nyoni addresses a memorial service for national heroine Betty Flora Mtero at Methodist Church in Borrowdale, Harare yesterday

Joseph Madzimure Senior Reporter

A CHURCH service was held yesterday for national heroine Cde Betty Flora Mtero at the Methodist Church in Zimbabwe, Borrowdale Circuit, ahead of her burial at the National Heroes Acre in Harare today.

President Mnangagwa is expected to lead proceedings at the burial, whose programme is expected to start at 10am.

However, guests are expected to be seated by 8am.

Yesterday’s church service was presided over by Bishop Edmore Chihota, who said Cde Mtero was a devout Christian and a Sunday school teacher.

“She always attended church services when she was available. She was a mentor and a teacher within the church,” said Bishop Chihota.

One of her children, Mr Tony Mtero, who is also the family spokesperson, said his mother was a fearless character and strongly attached to the church.

“She was very engaged in church programmes.  It was very important for her to have her last church service where she was highly regarded by the congregation,” said Mr Mtero.

High ranking officials from Government, the ruling party Zanu PF and captains of industry, attended the memorial service.

Cde Mtero was a director in the office of Zanu PF Secretary for Business and Liaison, who is also the Minister of Women Affairs, Community, Small and Medium Enterprises Development, Dr Sithembiso Nyoni, who described her as a teacher par-excellence.

“She was humble, very professional, inclusive and a motivational leader. We are celebrating a true heroine who worked tirelessly,” said Dr Nyoni.

“She is my mentor. She mentored most female combatants on how to dress properly for public events and even office wear. She mentored most female Government ministers.”

Zanu PF Central Committee member, Cde Nyasha Chikwinya, who worked closely with the national heroine soon after independence, said Cde Mtero received female combatants and taught them about good etiquette.

“When she received us from war, she knew that these young women and men were raw. We were bush-like and wanted to be feared by civilians, and we had no relationship with anybody.

“We wanted to be feared saying we are the ones who liberated the country. She kept saying ‘you are no longer in the bush, you need then to be attested into society like anybody else and grow to be women of substance who mingle with others in society’. Do not victimise the civilians.

“You should start behaving like ladies. She taught us how to make up our hair and how to do our make-up,” said Cde Chikwinya.

She added that Cde Mtero taught most of the female combatants to wear office gear.

“She took us for classes but in my own area, I was the private Secretary to the first Minister of Youth and Recreation, Amai Joice Mujuru.

“In that office, we would wear military gear in the office, but she advised us to wear formal dresses and told us that we were supposed to remove our military uniforms,” said Cde Chikwinya.

She also described Cde Mtero as a revolutionary icon and true champion of the economic empowerment agenda as she facilitated implementation of projects and programmes designed to uplift the downtrodden.

“As a result of her notable philanthropic works, she was a beneficiary of many accolades in recognition of her active involvement and initiatives which saw the formation of results-oriented women’s empowerment clubs and groupings throughout the country.

“Her works were visible and courted the attention of many from within and outside the party structures,” said Cde Chikwinya.

Former Dairibord Zimbabwe Limited CEO Mr Anthony Mandiwanza described Cde Mtero as a champion of empowerment who deserves the status accorded to her.

“She managed to spearhead empowerment initiatives across the country. She marks the history of empowerment across the country,” he said.

Former Co-Minister of State for National Healing and Reconciliation during the inclusive Government, Dr Sekai Holland, said Cde Mtero was a principled woman dedicated to her work.

“She was a champion of women empowerment. Most of the women who are in high positions be it in Government, parliament and captains of industry, passed through her,” said Dr Holland.

Meanwhile, Home Affairs and Cultural Heritage Minister Kazembe Kazembe said all was set for Cde Mtero’s burial today.

“As usual the burial will be presided over by His Excellency, President Mnangagwa,” he said.

Vice President and Minister of Health and Child Care, Dr Constantino Chiwenga, and Zanu PF Vice President Cde Kembo Mohadi, are expected to attend the burial.

Cde Mtero died last Tuesday at the age of 90.

Her body was airlifted to her rural home in Zvimba where the community had an opportunity to bid her farewell.

Cde Mtero valued education and received training in Germany, the University of Rhodesia, the University of London and received an honorary Master’s Degree in Community Development from the Women’s University in Africa.

She represented Zimbabwe as a delegate at the 1995 United Nations World Forum on Women in Beijing, China.

During her tenure as Secretary for Indigenisation and Economic Empowerment, Cde Mtero was a champion for economic empowerment through facilitating implementation of income generating projects, as she co-ordinated activities of the popular Grassroots Empowerment Project.

She also worked for the party as director in the department of Indigenisation and Economic Empowerment as well as Business Development and Liaison at Zanu PF Headquarters.

She was born on May 16, 1932 in Msengezi, Zvimba District and attended Msengezi Primary School.

She then trained as a teacher at Dadaya Mission in Zvishavane, Midlands province.

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