Farirai Machivenyika Senior Reporter
International music icon Dr Oliver Mtukudzi was yesterday declared a national hero, becoming Zimbabwe’s first musician to be accorded such status. President Mnangagwa announced Dr Mtukudzi’s hero status at the superstar’s home in Norton yesterday.
Dr Mtukudzi passed on at the Avenues Clinic on Wednesday after battling diabetes for some time.
He was 66.
“The Namibian President (Hage Geingob) called me today and asked if it was true that he had died. He expressed his shock at his death and expressed his deepest and sincere condolences,” said President Mnangagwa.
“That is how influential he had become. So, as we sat as the leadership we asked ourselves, ‘If he had such global reach what kind of honour can we accord him since he was one of our own?’ So, as the Politburo we agreed unanimously that he be given the highest honour. Everyone was agreeable.
“To Amai Mtukudzi, I want to say on behalf of our party Zanu-PF, Government and myself as President and on behalf of all Zimbabweans that we have agreed that he be declared a national hero,” announced the President.
The announcement was greeted with applause and jubilation by hundreds of mourners who had thronged the icon’s home to pay their last respects.
President Mnangagwa said burial arrangements would be announced once consultations between Government and the Mtukudzi family were completed.
President Mnangagwa told the gathering that he knew Dr Mtukudzi personally and that the nation had been robbed of an arts and music legend.
“The nation has been robbed of a hero and I want to say to the Mtukudzi family that the whole country is mourning with you. Death affects all of us irrespective of one’s physical or social standing: it is God’s plan and no one knows when their time will come,” he said.
The President said it was important that people repent and accept Jesus Christ as their saviour.
“It is only God who knows the plans he has for us, so the only thing we can do is to take Jesus Christ as our personal saviour to prepare for our lives after death.
“There are some who think they are healthy and keep postponing giving their lives to Christ but they don’t know what God’s plan is,” said President Mnangagwa in a mini sermon.
He said Dr Mtukudzi was no longer a Mashonaland Central son, but belonged to the whole of Africa and beyond.
President Mnangagwa urged the relatives of the national hero to take care of the family left behind.
“I call on the relatives here not to focus on what you will get from what has been left behind. We don’t want that devilish spirit. Rather, ask yourself what you can do for the family that (Mtukudzi) left behind,” added President Mnangagwa.
The President was accompanied by First Lady Auxillia Mnangagwa, Vice President Kembo Mohadi, Mrs Marry Chiwenga; Defence and War Veterans Affairs Minister Oppah Muchinguri; Information, Publicity and Broadcasting Services Minister Monica Mutsvangwa, service chiefs and other senior Government and Zanu-PF officials.