Felex Share Senior Reporter—
President Mugabe yesterday mourned veteran politician and national hero Cde Naison Khutshwekhaya Ndlovu, saying the veteran nationalist never betrayed the liberation struggle despite the persecution administered to him by the Smith Regime. Cde Ndlovu succumbed to prostate cancer on Monday morning in Bulawayo.
He was 86.
He will be buried at the National Heroes Acre on Saturday.
Politburo member Cde Joshua Malinga yesterday told mourners at the nationalist’s Luveve suburb home that President Mugabe had declared him a national hero.
“I have a short message from the President to tell you that ubaba uN. K. Ndlovu has been declared a national hero and would be laid to rest on Saturday,” he said.
“We all know him, imisebenzi yakhe siyayazi. He was one of the few people who were very close to the President. We would all go to him to seek advice, he was a fountain of knowledge.”
Cde Malinga appealed to the people of Bulawayo to travel to Harare in their numbers for the national hero’s send-off.
In his condolence message, the President said Cde Ndlovu served Zimbabwe dependably.
“I learnt with a deep sense of shock and sorrow of the death yesterday (Monday) of Cde Naison Khutshwekhaya Ndlovu in Bulawayo,” he said.
“While he has not been well for quite some time, we prayed all along for his speedy recovery. Sadly, this did not come to pass and our revered veteran nationalist and freedom fighter has been taken away from us and gone forever.
“His untimely death is a terrible loss to his family, his party Zanu-PF and the nation, which he served so diligently and faithfully his entire life.”
Cde Ndlovu, a Zanu-PF Central Committee member, was the national chairman of PF Zapu at the signing of the Unity Accord in 1987 and the first black mayor of Bulawayo, assuming the post in 1981 and serving for two terms.
He also served as Deputy Senate President from 2008 to 2013.
Cde Ndlovu was the only surviving member from the PF Zapu side involved in initial talks towards uniting PF Zapu and Zanu.
President Mugabe said he knew Cde Ndlovu during the early days of the liberation struggle.
“He belongs to that early crop of African nationalists who pioneered the resistance to white colonialism and fought for black majority rule,” he said.
“Like many of his colleagues in the struggle for our independence, he too endured long stints in jail and detentions at the evil hands of the Smith regime.
“In spite of all that persecution, he never prevaricated or betrayed the liberation struggle.
“He was a true revolutionary cadre and remained so after independence to the very end of his life.”
The President added: “He shall be sadly missed by all of us who had the privilege of working closely with him and many others whose lives he touched in so many different ways.
“On behalf of the party Zanu-PF, Government, my family and on my own behalf, I wish to express my sincere condolences to the Ndlovu family, especially his wife Sithokozile and the children on their saddest loss.”
Born in Gwatemba, Filabusi, on October 22, 1930, Cde Ndlovu began his education at Zezani Secondary School in Beitbridge where he did Standard One and Two.
He went back to Gwatemba to finish Standard Three before proceeding to Wanezi Mission for Standard Six and later proceeded to Umzingwane Government School where he trained in leather work.
After attaining a certificate in leather work, Cde Ndlovu taught at Zezani School and Matopo Mission in 1950 and 1953 respectively before proceeding to Empandeni Mission.
He escaped to Zambia via Botswana and six months later his father was murdered when an arms cache was found at his home.
In Zambia, Cde Ndlovu became a member of the War Council and Coordinated Production Activities of Zapu until his return to Zimbabwe in January 1980 following the successful conclusion of the Lancaster House negotiations.
Cde Ndlovu remained very active after the liberation struggle, although he was not very actively involved in central Government.