From George Maponga in GUTU
Hundreds of people yesterday thronged Mpandawana Growth Point in Gutu to receive the body of national heroine and Masvingo Provincial Affairs Minister Senator Shuvai Mahofa, who died on Sunday.
Sen Mahofa died at Makurira Memorial Hospital in Masvingo.
She was 76.
Sen Mahofa had battled poor health since 2015.
She was declared a national heroine and will be buried at the National Heroes Acre tomorrow.
Initially, there were indications that her burial had been moved to next Wednesday at the behest of the Mahofa family.
A sombre atmosphere engulfed Mpandawana Growth Point just after 2pm as two Air Force of Zimbabwe helicopters carrying Sen Mahofa’s body landed at Hwiri Primary School grounds to give the people of Gutu an opportunity to bid her farewell.
Zanu-PF Youths and members of the ruling party Women’s League marched in front of the hearse carrying Sen Mahofa’s body to Hwiru grounds where people were gathered.
Others lined up the streets at Mpandawana Growth Point.
Women’s League members sang revolutionary songs saluting Minister Mahofa.
Before the body was flown to Gutu from Masvingo, scores of people lined up streets in the city as Sen Mahofa’s funeral cortège weaved its way through the city centre to her Rhodene home, where a church service was held .
It was followed by body viewing before Sen Mahofa was taken to Masvingo Airport and her body flown to Gutu.
In Gutu, Sen Mahofa’s body was received by Zanu-PF Secretary for Youth Affairs Cde Kudzanai Chipanga, Gutu Central Member of Parliament and Chief Whip Cde Lovemore Matuke, Deputy Minister of Lands and Rural Resettlement Cde Berita Chikwama, among other senior Government and Zanu-PF officials.
Addressing mourners, Cde Chipanga thanked President Mugabe and Zanu-PF for bestowing national heroine status on Sen Mahofa.
He described her as a forthright and dedicated leader, who always stood for the truth no matter the consequences.
“This loss is not for the people Gutu alone or Masvingo Province alone, but a loss for Zimbabwe as a whole. Sen Mahofa carried the aspirations of the people of Masvingo and in fact I must say she was Masvingo herself and allow me to pay tribute to President Mugabe and our party Zanu-PF for conferring national heroine status on her,’’ he said.
“I want to tell you that the decision to confer national heroine status was one of the easiest jobs ever because her track record speaks for itself. Her loss to the people of Masvingo is like the roof of the house that has been taken off.”
Cde Chipanga challenged the Zanu-PF leadership and members in Masvingo to pay homage to the national heroine by making sure the ruling party retains all the 26 House of Assembly seats in next year’s harmonised elections.
Cde Chipanga said Masvingo was a key Zanu-PF stronghold and produced luminaries like the late Vice President Simon Muzenda, Cde Eddison Zvobgo, Retired Air Chief Marshal Josiah Tungamirai, Rtd General Vitalis Zvinavashe, among others.
Zanu-PF Masvingo provincial chairman Cde Ezra Chadzamira said it would be very difficult for the province without Sen Mahofa’s guidance, but urged party cadres to soldier on.
“It will be very difficult for us the people of Masvingo to go into 2018 without Sen Mahofa, who was our mentor, teacher and a unifying force who will be solely missed,’’ he said.
“The good thing, however, is that Sen Mahofa left a clear framework on where the province should go with impending socio-economic transformation hinged on the recently completed Tokwe-Mukosi Dam and the Beitbridge-Harare Highway dualisation project,’’ he said.
Sen Mahofa’s body lay in state at her Mpandawana home yesterday.
The body would be flown to Harare, where it will lie in state at her Greendale home before burial at the National Heroes Acre tomorrow.
Sen Mahofa was born in 1941 in Chivi.
She attended Chibi Mission and Morgenster Mission schools.
Sen Mahofa enrolled for a nurse training course at Morgenster Mission where she attained a Diploma in
Nursing between 1958 and 1960.
In 1973 she enrolled for a Diploma in Community Development at Domboshava Training Centre and was active in early nationalist politics that saw her joining the United National Democratic Party. She then joined Zapu in 1960 and Zanu in 1963.
Sen Mahofa was a renowned war collaborator, who worked with the likes of late national hero Dr Simon Mazorodze supplying clothes and medicines to freedom fighters.
From 1980 to 1984 she was councillor for Ward 20 in Tirizi, Gutu, and at the same time served as the first woman council chairperson for Gutu District.
Minister Mahofa was elected Gutu South Member of Parliament in 1985 and occupied the seat until 2008.
She also served as the first Zanu PF Women’s League provincial leader for Masvingo in the 1980s.
Minister Mahofa served as deputy Minister of Women’s Affairs from 1987 to 1992 and Political Affairs Deputy Minister from 1992 to 1997.
From 1998 to 2007 she served as Deputy Minister of Gender and Youth Development.
In 2013 she was elected Senator before her appointment as Masvingo Provincial Affairs Minister in February 2015, a post she was currently occupying.