Elita Chikwati Senior Reporter
President Emmerson Mnangagwa yesterday urged Zimbabweans to unite, bury their differences and work towards the development of the nation as national hero Dr Timothy Stamps did.
He made the call at the memorial of Dr Stamps at Celebration Centre in Harare. The service was attended by Cabinet ministers, former ministers, National Assembly members, representatives from NGOs, representatives from the health sector, including nurses, members of apostolic sects and people from all walks of life.
In a speech read on his behalf by Minister of Health and Child Care Dr David Parirenyatwa, President Mnangagwa paid tribute to the national hero for his contribution in the health delivery service before and after independence and transforming many people’s lives through his generous heart and philanthropic work. He said the death of Dr Stamps, a former Minister of Health, was a huge loss not only to his family, but the nation as a whole.
“Dr Stamps was a good man, a man of good character, a man of many good attributes who touched and transformed the lives of many people through his generous heart and philanthropic work.
“He joins a rare breed of a very few citizens who have been bestowed this highest honour on our land who lie buried at the sacred shrine the National Heroes Acre. Indeed, the according of the national hero status on Dr Stamps attests to the role we all can play as Zimbabweans in developing our country regardless of ethnic origin or race,” he said.
President Mnangagwa said Dr Stamps would be remembered for his tireless efforts to improve the health delivery system and fundraising overseas for construction of health clinics and community hospitals in rural areas in conjunction with the ministry of health.
“During his time many community healthcare facilities were created as his target then was “Health for All by the year 2000”. It will be recalled that it was also the period during which the HIV and Aids scourge was wreaking havoc in our communities and many families were losing their loved ones. He worked hard to change the mindset and succeeded to a very large extent in getting people to appreciate the pandemic was real and everyone was at risk.
“Dr Stamps’ work and influence in the health sector did not go unnoticed by both the ruling party Zanu-PF and Government. Dr Stamps soon found political accommodation in ZANU-PF and ran on the party ticket in the 1990 general election,” he said.
The President described how Dr Stamps contributed to the well-being of the indigenous people during the colonial era despite the punishments from the colonial system. Dr Stamps was dismissed from his post as a chief medical health officer for the municipality of Salisbury now Harare as punishment for his efforts in improving health delivery system for the marginalised blacks.
“That ill-conceived punishment meted out to him served to drive him closer to the people who appreciated the good health services he was providing to their communities.
“Dr Stamps became heavily involved with developmental community projects which steadily drove him into local politics culminating with his election as councillor for the Salisbury City council.
He could not escape the dark side of Rhodesian racial politics which pursued at the time a colonial agenda. However, Dr Stamps was among those whites who realised that racial politics in Rhodesia was not only abominable, but also unsustainable. The inevitable happened, majority rule would come to pass at the appointed time,” he said.
After independence, Dr Stamps was among the few whites who embraced whole heartedly the spirit of national reconciliation and heeded the call by the then President Robert Mugabe to bury differences and unite. He called on Zimbabweans to emulate Dr Stamps who was patriotic and loyal to the country.
“It is my fervent hope and wish that all our people regardless of race, creed, or political persuasion will take heed of the clarion call I made during my inaugural speech that let bygones be bygones. Let us readily embrace each other so that together we move in peace and harmony to rebuild our great country.
“Our country is endowed with rich resources and opportunities for everyone that beckon us to exploit. Let us borrow a leaf from this man we are remembering today who dedicated his life to serving his fellow man the best way he knew how. This largely explains why his passing on is such as great loss not only to his immediate family members, but even to the nation as a whole,” he said.