President Mugabe has mourned Zanu-PF Central Committee member Cde Victoria Fikile Chitepo (88) who was found dead in Harare yesterday morning. She was the widow of national hero and former Zanu-PF chairman Advocate Herbert Chitepo. Cde Chitepo was found dead yesterday morning by her granddaughter at her Mount Pleasant home while she was preparing to go for a Central Committee meeting.
Breaking the news to the Zanu-PF Central Committee, President Mugabe described Cde Chitepo as a staunch member whose contributions during and after the liberation struggle were beyond reproach. “I have received sad news that Mai Chitepo is no more and the circumstances are not yet clearly defined to us, but from what we have heard so far, she was preparing to come to this meeting.
“Apparently all this happened when she was alone, but when a granddaughter drove to the house so she could bring her to this meeting, she found her dead. “Everyone knows the role she has played during and after her husband’s death and right up to now she has been one of us here.
“One of us politically, one of us intellectually, even physically and amongst women, all of us she was known as a staunch member. Her loss is a severe loss to all of us. As we await the full story of what happened, let us pay her tribute with a minute of silence.” Cde Chitepo’s daughter Dr Thokozile Chitepo confirmed the death, saying her mother had been well despite a hip replacement operation.
“Between 1000 and 1030 hours, her granddaughter came to pick her for a Central Committee meeting at the Zanu-PF Headquarters. She did not find her and proceeded to her bedroom where she found her fallen by her bed. She had already died. Because of her old age, doctors were monitoring her heart condition after that hip replacement.”
Dr Chitepo, who is also Secretary for Sports and Recreation, said doctors were still to establish the cause of her death. “She had no hypertension, neither was she diabetic. But as a cautionary measure, doctors were just monitoring her heart condition after that operation”.
Born on March 27, 1928 in South Africa, Cde Chitepo was a teacher by profession. She married Cde Herbert Chitepo in Durban on November 29, 1955. During the liberation struggle, inspired by her husband, she organised women to march in protest and co-ordinated care for detainees who were in prisons in places such as Marondera and Sikhombela.
After independence, Cde Chitepo was one of the three female ministers in Independent Zimbabwe (1980) as Deputy Minister for Education and Culture (1980-1982). She served as Minister of National Resources and Tourism (1982-1990), Minister for Information, Post and Telecommunications and Minister of Local Government (1990-1992).
She was once a Member of Parliament in Manicaland’s Mutasa and Buhera West Constituencies between 1980 and 1995. Cde Chitepo was United Nations eminent person and special advisor to United Nations Secretary-General Mr Boutros Boutros Ghali on the preparation for the Fourth World Conference on Women (1994-1995).
Cde Chitepo was Women Voters Association of Zimbabwe chairperson in 1995 and was appointed a member of the Commonwealth observer group of the Kenyan elections in 1992. She was appointed a member of the Commonwealth Mission to South Africa (Comsa III) in 1993, replacing Justice Simbi Mubako.
She was awarded an honorary Doctor of Philosophy in Tourism and Hospitality Management Degree for her contribution to national development by Midlands State University in 2010. Amai Chitepo is survived by four children and grandchildren.