LIVE BLOG: CDEs MUZENDA, RUTANHIRE BURIAL
UPDATES: Lincoln Towindo and Simiso Mlevu; PHOTOGRAPHY: Innocent Makawa and Wilson Kakurira; EDITOR: Costa Mano; PICTURE EDITOR: Clearance Munondo
1639: The National Anthem is now being played signalling the end of proceedings here at the National Heroes Acre as well as our updates. Thank you for joining us.
1615: The coffins have been lowered and President Mugabe, First Lady Amai Mugabe, VP Mphoko, family representatives, President of the Senate, Speaker of the National Assembly, service chiefs are now laying wreaths at the graves of the hero and heroine
1544: Bearer Parties, Firing Parties and the relatives of the deceased are now headed to the graveside.
1523: As a party, President Mugabe says Zanu-PF is people oriented. He says the army is there to protect the people. So is the police. They are for the people. He has implored Zimbabweans not to fear the army saying it is there to serve the people. His Excellency has also blasted traffic police officers ordering them to stop corruption and harassing people on the roads.
“Please stop it, President Mugabe says. Establish businesses. We will support you. If you want farms, we will give you. But stop harassing people,” he says to wild cheers from the crowd.
1518: “We say to George, son of the soil, you played your part. You played it with utmost humility and very strong ideological direction,”
President Mugabe has assured the late Cde Rutanhire that he will ensure that his works are carried forward in the same manner he envisioned. He adds that Zanu-PF is not a party that push individual agenda but is concerned with the people.
“Vanhu, vanhu, vanhu,” President Mugabe says.
1516: He has implored schools not to be ashamed of teaching Zimbabwean history.
“We don’t want to hear teachers saying we do not want to teach it yet they want to teach about Napoleon. Where do they know him from? This is a double tragedy. As I told you, when I looked at these two, I felt deep pain and my tears were welling up,”
1510: He says at one point, Minister of Mines Cde Chidakwa told him that he was not well.
“I encouraged him to go for a check up. He came back to me exclaiming at what we saw. He said after tests, he saw fat in his own blood and was advised that it is the same fat that blocks veins and blood struggles to be pumped around the body,”
President Mugabe says Cde Rutanhire struggled with the bullet which he lived with. But still, he never laid back. He would struggle and come to the meetings. He struggled to make Herbert Chitepo Ideological college move forward. He thrived to teach young people. Some of us were never taught anything.
1504: “We were worried and are still worried by lack of ideological knowledge. You hear people, someone has fallen sick and they say aroiwa. That’s lack of ideological knowledge. A leader akarwara anonzi aroiwa, ah, when did this start! Technology is advanced and we encourage people to go for constant check ups. Certain diseases attack. The bodies are not ours,”
1501: “I want to thank you all who came here. To Mai Muzenda, go well. Those who believe in God, we will pray. Those who believe in traditional healers, hamenowo.”
Turning to Cde Rutanhire, President Mugabe says, “young man, are you gone? Why? Why now? He says Cde Rutanhire was a very respectful cadre. Very committed and very dedicated.
Because of his conduct, he says “we did not hesitate to appoint him to various posts in the Government.”
1455: President Mugabe says Mai Muzenda remained committed to the party even when her body was failing her.
Addressing the Muzenda siblings, he says “That is the kind of mother you had. She was full of love,”
1449: His Excellency has urged young people to draw inspiration from the life Gogo Muzenda led.
“At a tender age, she was left by her husband who was going to the struggle. She remained behind with children and raised them well. It was not easy but she carried herself well.”
1442: President Mugabe implores the Muzenda siblings to stay united and be guided by principles they were taught by the parents.
“Mai vaenda nhasi but stay united. If you need help, don’t be shy to approach us. Don’t be shy to approach elders in the party,”
1439: “The other day Director General Bonyongwe came to me saying he just came from visiting Amai Muzenda and he told me she is too ill adding that he saw people smearing some creams to her. I told him that it is a catholic tradition and its called a sacrament. Bonyongwe wanted to stop them saying he thought it’s a concoction from traditional healers. No, I told him,” he says as mourners, who include DG Bonyongwe, break into laughter.
1435: “Vaenda Amai vemhuri nhasi. Before we came here, I said to Tsitsi I am sorry. You are now the mother of the family. We also travelled with Vengesai, the son who is a pilot, and I asked him how is your mom, he told me she is not well,”
1434: “I had never seen him shaken like he was at one point in Chimoio. His daughter, Theresa had perished during the bombing of the camp. He was so devastated. ”
1431: “Well, Muzenda managed to do all what he was doing with us because, at home, he knew that Mai Maud Muzenda was taking care of children very well,”
1422: “There was unity. Not what we are seeing today. This is not the Masvingo we knew. We hear they even identify witches and wizards. We now hear that even the President is one. Ah, why now when we came all the way? We don’t have wizards in Zanu PF, we only have people who lose party ideology,”
1417: President Mugabe says later they moved to Gweru and Muzenda complained that boys from Gweru pestered him to go back to his own home area.
“I asked who are those and he told me, Emmerson and others. That is how he went back and he started working from Masvingo together with the likes of Josaya Hungwe,”
1411: Going down the memory lane, President Mugabe details the nature of friendship they had. He says the friendship saw Muzenda following him to Empandeni Mission where he also wanted to teach.
“But later, Muzenda disappeared and we wondered where he had gone, only to later learn he had gone to South Africa to do further studies in carpentry. He later came back and went to work in Bulawayo. Not many people had access to education. Very few people had been to school. Those who had better education were the likes of Nkomo (Joshua) and Muzenda who had gone to South Africa to learn. These became torch bearers of the struggle,”
1408: President Mugabe says he silently asked if God could not separate the days adding that George was more like son to Gogo Muzenda. The friends that I had during the struggle are the likes of Muzenda, Takawira and Sithole adding that they shared life. Muzenda knew about my family as much as I knew about knew about his.
1402: “We heard the narrations by the two families. The Muzenda and Rutanhire families. When we had services, I felt a deep sorrow. In my heart I asked, God, what wrong have we done do deserve this? Have we erred in our way of life? He says he is pained by the loss of comrades who dedicated their lives to liberating Zimbabwe. I do not think we did any wrong God, the country that had been forcibly taken away from its rightful owners, we fought and brought it back. Many went out to fight. Many came back but again, many remained in the bush,”
1358: “The bereaved, Muzenda family, Rutanhire family, the honourable VP, Cde Mphoko and Mai, Cde VP, Cde Emmerson Mnangagwa, we were with him but he told us, he has not fully recovered and will not be able to come to the Heroes Acre. He went home to rest. The President of the Senate Mai Edna Madzongwe, Speaker of the National Assembly Advocate Mudenda, Chief Justice Malaba, Minister of Harare Province, Cde Mirriam Chikukwa, ministers here present, comrades and friends,”
1357: Dr Chombo has invited President Mugabe to address the mourners.
1355: The spokesperson says the bickering and divisions rocking the revolutionary party are a sign of lack of ideological clarity and consciousness in Zanu PF adding that when his father was appointed the Director of Herbert Chitepo Ideological college, the family welcomed it as well deserved. He has thanked all who came to the national shrine to mourn with the family.
1347: He has described his father as a spiritual person who treasured culture and heritage.
“Cde George Rutanhire led the identification and reburial of fallen heroes who were callously buried by the colonialists. Dr Musanhu has appealed to President Mugabe to ensure that the programme continues,”
1343: Cde Rutanhire’s son says as family, they agree with the observation made by Zanu PF spokesperson, Cde Simon Khaya Moyo who said the hero never boasted about his contribution to the liberation struggle
1341: He says he considers himself lucky to have been born because his father is a survivor of the liberation struggle adding that he lived with a bullet till the time of his death.
1339: Dr Musanhu thanks President Mugabe and the country’s leadership for the honour and recognition bestowed to Cde Rutanhire. He narrates Cde Rutanhire’s history detailing the Commissariat work he did long before he joined the liberation struggle himself.
1337: Dr Chombo has invited Dr Zivanai Musanhu to give family remarks on behalf of the Rutanhire family.
1335: Quoting First Lady Amai Mugabe’s words of wisdom she shared with the family when she went to pay her condolences, Martin says they were comforted and inspired. Amai Mugabe told mourners that so many women in Zimbabwe work hard but are hardly recognised, citing Gogo Muzenda as one such woman.
As he concludes his speech, Vabvuwi Methodist church choir breaks into song.
1325: Mr Muzenda has also described Gogo Muzenda as a caring mother who loved baking adding that she would bake very delicious scones. As a nurse, Gogo Muzenda helped a lot of comrades who needed medical attention. She would take medication from Mvuma hospital even though she was well aware that if caught, she could be jailed.
1323: “As a mother, she was hard working and from work, she would sit down on her Singer machine to sew clothes for us. We rarely wore anything bought from a shop,”
1321: The family representative says as a nurse, Gogo Muzenda had love for her patients and she often implored her family to pray for them.
1320: Muzenda family representative, Mr Chikwereti Martin Muzenda now giving family remarks. He gives family background telling mourners that Gogo Muzenda had eight children of which two of them are now late.
1313: “By faith, we are a people whose prayers are answered by God,” says Rev Choto before blessing the event with a prayer.
1309: Rev Choto says faith gives substance to our hearts. Drawing from the statement, he says Gogo Muzenda and Cde Rutanhire embarked on journeys they were not sure where it will end. They had faith that they will achieve whatever they had set out for. The two liberators, Reve Choto says were driven by faith and managed to set Zimbabwe free together with others.
1304: The Minister of Home Affairs, Dr Ignatius Chombo who is also the Director of Ceremony takes to the podium. He says mourners are gathered here to bid farewell to two great liberators. He invites the minister of Religion, Reverend Brian Choto to lead the mourners in prayer.
1303: In a poem, Reverend Paul Damasane pays tribute to Gogo Muzenda and Cde Rutanhire for dedicating their lives to liberating Zimbabwe. He says the two gallant children of the soil taught Zimbabweans to cherish independence. He says the two are counted and remembered by many adding that if death ever consulted him who it should whisk away, he was going to point at thieves and other criminals.
1300: Father Riberio leads a Catholic ritual as he blesses the caskets of the two.
1248: The second Gun Carriage has also arrived and The Bearer Parties remove the caskets from the Gun Carriages to the position in front of the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. A very sad and rare sight here. The two coffins arrived with the President and Lady Amai Grace Mugabe.
1242: The first gun carrier has arrived here and the Firing Party takes position.
1240: The service chiefs have taken their position as they prepare to welcome President Mugabe, the two bodies and families of the deceased.
1215: Vice President Phelekezela Mphoko has arrived here at the sacred shrine and is making his way to the VVIP tent.
1153: Several Government officials are among the mourners gathered here and these include Ministers, Chief Justice Luke Malaba, Speaker of Parliament Advocate Jacob Mudenda and service chiefs led by the Commander of the Defence Forces Dr Constantino Chiwenga.
1130: The body viewing ceremony has commenced inside Stodart Hall.
1122: Several banners which speak to the life led by the two comrades are on display here. Some of the banners about Gogo Muzenda read: A woman of substance, rest in peace caring mother, Mai Muzee: an epitome of African motherhood among others.
Banners speaking to the life of Cde Rutanhire read: A champion of anti-corruption, Cde Rutanhire: A revolutionary and charismatic leader, Cde Rutanhire: A giant revolutionary, Cde Rutanhire: The ideologist among others.
1114: President Mugabe and First Lady Amai Grace Mugabe have arrived.
1055: Meanwhile, space in the terraces, tents and the open space here at the National Heroes Acre is fast running out as Zimbabweans from across the sections of life continue trickling in for the final send off of the two fighters for the country’s independence.
1054: VP Mnangagwa has arrived, accompanied by his wife, Auxilia.
1048: Vice President Phelekezela Mphoko has arrived together with his wife, Laurinda
1042: Service Chiefs have arrived.
1033: Defence Minister Dr Sydney Sekramayi has arrived.
1007: Speaker of the National Assembly Adv Jacob Mudenda has arrived.
1005: Agriculture Minister Dr Joseph Made has arrived.
1000: Energy Minister Samuel Undenge has arrived.
0956: Finance Minister Patrick Chinamasa has arrived.
0955: Harare Mayor Cllr Ben Manyenyeni has arrived.
0949: Local Government, Public Works and National Housing Minister Saviour Kasukuwere has arrived.
0940: The bodies of Cdes Maud Muzenda and George Rutanhire have arrived at Stodart Hall in Mbare ahead of the body viewing rites which will be led by President Mugabe. A huge crowd has already gathered outside the hall to bid farewell to two more children of the soil. It certainly has been a devastating month for the nation.
0930: All is set for the burial of two of Zimbabwe’s liberators today at the National Heroes Acre, Cdes George Rutanhire and Gogo Maud Muzenda, wife to the late Vice President Simon Muzenda who was affectionately known as the Soul of the Nation.
Gogo Muzenda, died on Tuesday at the Avenues Clinic, while Cde Rutanhire, a Zanu-PF Politburo member and director of the Chitepo Ideological College, passed on last Saturday at Karanda Mission Hospital in Mt Darwin.