The Herald, August 9, 2022
THE body of the former chairman of Zanu, Mr Herbert Chitepo, will not be buried at the Heroes’ Acre near Salisbury on Tuesday when the remains of two other nationalist leaders — Mr Jason Moyo and Mr Josiah Tongogara — are interred to mark Heroes’ Day.
Mrs Victoria Chitepo, Zimbabwe’s Deputy Minister of Education and Culture, widow of the late chairman, said yesterday the request to have his body exhumed from Leopold’s Hill cemetery in Lusaka was made “at such very short notice that it is impossible for the family and relatives to fulfil the customary requirements and consultations”.
“We trust that the Government is aware that this communication only reached us on July 31. We therefore request most respectfully and hope that Herbert Chitepo’s body shall be brought back as soon as all the prerequisite arrangements are complete,” she added.
Iana said in a report from Lusaka yesterday that the Government had decided to exhume the bodies of Mr Moyo, who was a senior ZAPU official, and Mr Tongogara, the ZANLA leader who died last year, in Lusaka and Maputo respectively, and have them returned for burial in Salisbury.
According to Mr Josiah Chinamano, Patriotic Front vice-president, who is in Lusaka to make the necessary arrangements, a short service will be held at the Cathedral of the Holy Cross in Lusaka on Monday by the Zambian Defence Force before the body of Mr Moyo is flown to Salisbury by the Zambian Air Force.
A group of officials and relatives left for Maputo yesterday to bring back the embalmed body of Mr Tongogara, sources said in Salisbury.
A Government spokesman in Salisbury said yesterday the two aircraft bearing the bodies would be met at Salisbury airport on Monday by the Prime Minister, Mr Mugabe, and members of the cabinet.
The coffins will be loaded onto gun carriages and a military cortege will take them to Stodart Hall in Harare, where the bodies will lie in state from 1 pm to 6 pm.
The following morning at 9:50, the coffins will be transported through the streets of Salisbury with a motorcycle escort and arrive at Heroes’ Acre at about 10.30.
The spokesman emphasised that Heroes’ Acre was not at Warren Hills Cemetery but on a separate turning 6,5km from Salisbury on the main Bulawayo road.
Troops from the National Army 21 Battalion – composed of former ZANLA and ZIPRA guerrillas – will attend the ceremony and the bearer parties will consist of three officers and 24 men.
The last salute will be given by a firing party of 72 men. Music will be played by the Zimbabwe Republic Police.
LESSONS FOR TODAY
Cdes Tongogara and JZ Moyo were some of the first national heroes to be buried at the National Heroes Acre.
The country’s nationalist leaders played a pivotal role in liberating the country and as such it was important that soon after independence, they be accorded the highest honour, hence the decision to accord them the National Heroes status.
The honour of National Hero or Heroine remains the highest honour, accorded to eminent sons and daughters of Zimbabwe who have played a significant role in the country.
There are traditional rites that need to be followed when performing certain functions such as exhumations, and these need to be done appropriately, for them to work.