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President Mnangagwa will today preside over the burial of two national heroes, Zimbabwe National Army Commander, Lieutenant General Edzai Chimonyo and Cde Michael “Vhuu” Chakabva at the national heroes acre.

Double heroes’ burial todayMinister Kazembe Kazembe

Another national hero, Cde Abraham Nkiwane is also expected to be buried today in Umguza, Matabeleland North province.

The three national heroes died last week.

In an interview yesterday, Home Affairs and Cultural Heritage Minister Kazembe Kazembe said all was set for the double burial of national heroes in Harare.

Minister Kazembe emphasised that the burial will be done in strict observance of Covid-19 health protocol to avoid the spread of the disease.

This include limiting the number of people to attend the burial.

“The burial of Lt Gen Chimonyo and Cde Chakabva will be tomorrow (today) at the national heroes acre. We have concluded consultations with relatives of both families. The President will preside over the event. As we speak, officials from my Ministry are holding meetings with both families to finalise the programme for tomorrow (today),” said Minister Kazembe.

“I wish to emphasise that the burial will be held under strict Covid-19 health protocol, as what we have always done in such national events.”

Minister Kazembe said Cde Nkiwane will be buried in Umguza in fulfilment of the wishes of the family.

In a statement yesterday, Ministry of Home Affairs and Cultural Heritage said all was now set for the burial of the three national heroes today.

“The double burial of the late national heroes Lt Gen Chimonyo and Cde Chakabva will be presided over by His Excellency the President of the Republic of Zimbabwe, Cde Dr E.D Mnangagwa, Vice President Honourable General (Rtd) Dr Constantino Chiwenga will also be in attendance as well, the Vice President and Second Secretary of the ruling party Zanu-PF Colonel (Rtd) Cde Kembo Mohadi,”

reads the statement.

“In compliance with Covid-19 regulations only 20 close family members from each of the national heroes will be allowed to attend the burial ceremony. The programme of the burial ceremony will commence with close family members converging at One Commando Barracks at 0930 hours from where the funeral cortege will depart for the national heroes acre at 1025 hours.”

Some of the dignitaries to attend the burial include Speaker of the National Assembly Advocate Jacob Mudenda, Senate President Cde Marble Chinomona, Chief Justice Luke Malaba, Mayor of City of Harare among others.

Cde Nkiwane (93) succumbed to prostate cancer at the United Bulawayo Hospitals last Tuesday, while Lt-Gen Chimonyo (69) died at the Avenues clinic in Harare on Wednesday after battling cancer.

Cde Vhuu (78), who died last Thursday after having been ill for some time.

Cde Nkiwane’s family communicated his wish to be buried at his farm, just outside Bulawayo, which the Government respected.

The three national heroes were, in their individual capacities, key figures in the Second Chimurenga.

Lt-Gen Chimonyo joined the liberation war in 1975, after crossing into Mozambique.

He trained at Mgagao, before returning to Mozambique where he was immediately deployed to Gaza Province as a sectorial commander.

Lt-Gen Chimonyo became a member of the ZANLA High Command in 1978 and subsequently ZANU’s deputy chief representative and military attaché in Zambia, a post he held until independence in 1980.

In post-independence Zimbabwe, Lt-Gen Chimonyo held different ranks in the army until January 2008 when he was appointed Zimbabwe’s Ambassador to Tanzania.

In 2017, he was called back to active military service becoming Commander of the Zimbabwe National Army, taking over from General Valerio Sibanda who had been elevated to Commander of the Zimbabwe Defence Forces.

Lt-Gen Chimonyo held the position until the time of his death.

Cde Vhuu was one of the most charismatic war participants as he was known for his dexterity in combat.

Young nationalists would hear of his exploits and wish to join the war.

Cde Vhuu joined the liberation struggle in the early 1960s, leaving his job in Zambia where he was working as a driver to take up arms.

He trained under ZAPU at Morogoro in Tanzania.

Cde Vhuu defected to ZANU, and joined cadres like President Mnangagwa, Mayor Urimbo and Josiah Tongogara at Mgagao Base Camp.

From 1965, his role was to smuggle arms and ammunition into Rhodesia.

He fought the battle of Chifombo alongside Frelimo forces, against the Portuguese.

Cde Vhuu was to become part of the ZANLA High Command and at some point Commander of Gaza Province.

However, he suffered serious injuries during the war and had to retreat from the front.

In post-independence Zimbabwe, he benefitted from the land reform programme and became a dedicated farmer in Centenary, Mashonaland Central.

Cde Nkiwane was a regional political activist during the liberation struggle, having started his activities under UNIP in Zambia.

He was to become part of the ZPRA High Command, alongside figures like Dumiso Dabengwa and James Chikerema.

Cde Nkiwane’s specialty involved co-ordinating joint operations with foreign liberation armies. At one point he was part of a collective war effort including Namibia’s SWAPO and South Africa’s Umkhonto WeSizwe under the ANC.

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