President mourns ex-Zambian minister Milner President Mnangagwa addresses mourners at the funeral of former Zambian Minister Aaron Milner in Harare yesterday accompanied by Vice Presidents Constantino Chiwenga and Kembo Mohadi. - Picture: Justin Mutenda.

Joseph Madzimure

Freedom fighter and former Zambian Cabinet minister in the Kenneth Kaunda administration, Cde Aaron Milner, fought a double struggle in Zimbabwe and Zambia in a bid to liberate the two nations, President Mnangagwa has said.

Cde Milner succumbed to pneumonia at his home in Borrowdale, Harare at the weekend.

He was 92.

The Government has accorded him a State-assisted funeral for his immense contribution to the liberation struggle.

President Mnangagwa worked closely with Cde Milner in Zambia as United National Independence Party (UNIP) Youth League members.

At the Milner home in Borrowdale, President Mnangagwa yesterday narrated the road he travelled with Cde Milner both in Zambia and Zimbabwe, describing him as a giant that had fallen.

Born in Bubi District, Matabeleland North in 1932, Cde Milner went on to serve in the executive of the UNIP party in Zambia. 

President Mnangagwa said Cde Milner was a humble man who used to interact with the youth wing.

“Milner was one of our bosses because he was in the national executive of UNIP. That’s how we met with the late. 

“Most of us in the Youth League liked him. He liked us and he talked to us. Some of his colleagues were bosses. Milner didn’t boss us around. 

“He liked to play with us, that’s why we were attached to him,” chronicled the President.

He urged his family members to remain strong as they mourn their father.

“God is the one who decides and he made his decision. I was saddened by the loss. I have come here to pay my last respects to a man who was my boss for a long time. 

“Most of you don’t understand the politics during the 1960s, but we were already deep in politics at the Youth League level. People should know that we walked a long, long journey together,” said President Mnangagwa.

He added: “His time has come; our time will come. Fortunately, at the end of the day wherever he is, he is happy that I have come.

“I am speaking about this and the journey which we travelled together in Zambia under UNIP.”

President Mnangagwa described how as revolutionaries, they worked hard to dismantle the colonial regime in Zambia in the late 1950s and early 1960s.

“I grew up in UNIP myself. I was expelled from Hodson Technical College in Lusaka, Zambia in 1959 because of the activities of Cde Milner. 

“When they were having rallies, we left school to attend the rallies as youths. We decided to burn the school with my colleagues and I was later expelled.”

Cde Milner became the first Member of Parliament for Chinsali, the home province of former President Kaunda.

He rose through the ranks of UNIP to become the Secretary-General of the party. He was once a Minister of Defence in Zambia, Minister of Home Affairs and was also in charge of liaison with all liberation movements in Africa.

Cde Milner was there in 1959 when UNIP split from the African National Congress of Zambia and a decision was later taken to liberate the country.

The State will provide all the necessities for the funeral in Zimbabwe and will facilitate the airlifting of the body to Lusaka, Zambia.

Family spokesperson and son to Cde Milner, Phillip, thanked the Zimbabwean Government for according his father a State-assisted funeral.

Cde Milner was a devout Catholic and along with Vice President Constantino Chiwenga, was a member of the St Gerard’s parish in Borrowdale.

President Mnangagwa was accompanied by Vice Presidents Chiwenga and Kembo Mohadi, Defence Minister Oppah-Muchinguri-Kashiri and Zanu PF Secretary for Legal Affairs Cde Patrick Chinamasa.

Cde Milner is survived by six children, nine grandchildren and 11 great grandchildren.

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