Elita Chikwati Senior Reporter
A sparse crowd gathered at the National Heroes Acre in Harare yesterday to bid farewell to decorated military commander and national hero, Brigadier General Collin Moyo (Retired), who succumbed to pneumonia last Friday.
Brig-Gen Moyo (Rtd), whose Chimurenga name was Rodwell Nyika, was described as a humble, inspiring instructor, loving father and fountain of knowledge and a true fighter who led great battles.
The burial was presided over by Acting President Kembo Mohadi with Vice President Constantino Chiwenga, Defence and War Veterans Affairs Minister Oppah Muchinguri-Kashiri and the Minister of Home Affairs and Cultural Heritage Kazembe Kazembe, together with some senior officials, in attendance.
Covid-19 protocols were followed in line with the World Health Organisation regulations.
The late Lands, Agriculture, Water and Rural Resettlement Minister Perrance Shiri was the first to be buried at the national shrine during the Covid-19 outbreak.
Crowds are controlled while only a few are allowed inside Heroes Acre for the actual burial. Brig-Gen Moyo’s body did not pass through Stodart Hall in Mbare for body-viewing as is norm, but went directly for burial in a hearse instead of the gun carriage used for State funerals.
A few mourners occupied seats on the terraces at the national shrine, wherein in the absence of Covid-19, thousands of mourners would converge singing, dancing, ululating, and holding placards in celebration of the life of the national hero.
Yesterday, a few placards were hoisted and among them was one warning people on Covid-19, the dangers of crossing flooded rivers and the importance of Pfumvudza.
Entertainment was provided by the Police Band and the ZRP Apostolic Melodies with its song “Kungavepo”.
Instead of the pallbearers in full military fatigues, Brig-Gen Moyo’s casket was ferried to the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier on a trolley pulled by pallbearers wearing personal protective equipment.
The special three volleys were fired by the firing party in honour of the hero.
Acting President Mohadi said the death of Brig-Gen Moyo had robbed the nation of an outstanding soldier, a leader and an inspiring instructor who was instrumental in moulding some of the war veterans and soldiers who were still active in Zimbabwe today.
“He was a fountain of knowledge grounded in sound political philosophy. Many of us remain with fond memories of his instructive wisdom,” he said.
The Acting President also took the opportunity to remind people of the need to be cautious to curb the spread of Covid-19.
“As the nation mourns this hero, we are faced with a deadly and silent killer Covid-19 which has also robbed many families across the nation of a father, brother, sister, mother, daughter or son. This second wave of the lethal viral infection threatens the very core of our nation’s productivity,” he said.
Zimbabwe Defence Forces Commander General Philip Valerio Sibanda, who was trained by the late national hero, said he got to know Brig-Gen Moyo in 1974 soon after his group arrived.
“He was one of my instructors. He was a real dedicated instructor, very fit. We later met at the front when we were both commanders and later on he remained front commander while I went to the headquarters. Rodwell led from the front.
“The young ones who are coming up today must understand that to get what you want you must be prepared to suffer certain hardships as he (Brig-Gen Moyo) did for this country. It is important that we remain focused because going into the future, the younger generation is going to be the leaders and they must know how Zimbabwe came and they need to continue to run with the agenda that we have,” he said.
Brig-Gen Moyo’s son, Pilani, expressed gratitude to Government for according the national hero status on his father.
“I thank our father’s comrades, his comrades in arms, mainly from Zipra, who have reached out to the family to console us and shared their accounts of his courage.
“He was a leader who encouraged and stood at the front and was humble. No job was too small for him. He had a big heart. He looked after us all and took care of his parents, brothers, sisters, and, nephews and never hesitated to share what he had. He embodied the principle of never giving up. He taught us humility and hard work and to love one another,” he said.