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5 declared national heroes posthumously

THE Zanu PF Politburo yesterday posthumously declared the late Cdes Rabelani Choeni, Saul Gwakuba Ndlovu, Elliot Ngwabi, Professor George Kahari and Professor Sheunesu Mpepereki as national heroes.

President Mnangagwa informed the Politburo, during an extraordinary meeting yesterday, that he had posthumously conferred national hero status on the five distinguished nationalists.

“The Politburo gave a thumbs up to the decision made by the President which indeed bestowed befitting respect and honour to the heroes,” said acting Zanu PF national spokesperson, Dr Mike Bimha.

Cde Choeni was Zanu PF Matabeleland South provincial chairman and succumbed to Covid-19 related complications on July 16.

He was buried at Malusingani in Beitbridge.

Cde Choeni joined the liberation struggle under Zipra in 1974 when he crossed the border into Zambia through Botswana.

After independence, he served in various political portfolios, including as Zanu PF chairman for Matabeleland South Province, a position he held until the time of his death.

Cde Ndlovu, also a freedom fighter and distinguished journalist, died of a heart ailment aged 87 at the United Bulawayo Hospitals on July 16 and was buried at Lady Stanley Cemetery.

He was has described as a rare breed of journalists whose skills were developed and sharpened by the liberation struggle.

Before joining the mainstream media, Cde Ndlovu was the director of Publicity and Information of the Zimbabwe African People’s Union (ZAPU) between 1964 and 1978.

He was also the founding editor of a magazine that was published by the party. In 1972, Cde Ndlovu was sent to the Soviet Union by ZAPU for military training and participated in the liberation struggle.

After independence, Cde Ndlovu worked for The Chronicle and The Sunday News before joining Munn Publishing Company where he was the contributing editor and regional manager responsible for Matabeleland, the Midlands, Masvingo, Botswana and Zambia.

Cde Ngwabi, who was a veteran nationalist, succumbed to Covid-19 related complications aged 85 on August 14.

He was interred at his home in Esiphezini (Mabindisa village) in Umzingwane District, Matabeleland South province.

President Mnangagwa initially conferred liberation war hero status on Cde Ngwabi following a request from the Zanu PF leadership in Matabeleland South province, before the status was upgraded yesterday.

He was among the four heroic freedom fighters who dramatically escaped from the tightly guarded Grey Street Prison — now Bulawayo Prison — in 1965.

The late Prof Mpepereki was a renowned academic and University of Zimbabwe lecturer. He succumbed to Covid-19 on July 10 at Parirenyatwa Group of Hospitals at the age of 70.

Prof Mpepereki was also presenter on national broadcaster, ZTV, where he co-hosted a programme called “Zvavanhu” with other academics including the late Dr Vimbai Chivaura, Dr Tafataona Mahoso and Prof Claude Mararike.

He joined the UZ’s Faculty of Agriculture as a staff development fellow in 1985 and proceeded to complete a Master of Science Degree majoring in Science and Microbiology at North Carolina State University, the US, in 1987.

After completing his PhD at the UZ in 1994, he launched the soya-bean promotion programme in 1996.

Prof Mpepereki was promoted to senior lecturer in 1998, associate professor in 2000, and full professor in 2002.

Prof Kahari died of Covid-19 complications on July 23, three days after turning 91.

He was an unwavering nationalist, top academic, diplomat, educator, arts administrator and writer.

During his career, Prof Kahari served as Zimbabwe’s Ambassador to Germany, Italy and Czechoslovakia.

He was also one of the founders of the Catholic University of Zimbabwe, which was founded in 1999, and the first black director at the National Gallery of Zimbabwe.

Prof Kahari became active in nationalist politics in 1958 when he joined the African National Congress (ANC) before moving to ZAPU, where he was elected Central Committee member and Deputy Publicity Secretary in 1975.

Prof Kahari was then appointed member of the ZAPU delegation to the Geneva conference in 1976.

In academic circles, he taught at various schools and colleges including the School of Oriental and African Studies at the University of London, as well as the University of Zimbabwe.

He had over 10 publications to his name, among them: The Odyssey of Shona Narratives, A Standard Dictionary of Shona-English Names, and The Search for Identity and Ufuru.

Provinces and stakeholders were directed to submit their recommendations on heroes timeously for appropriate consideration.

The ruling party also announced the suspension of provincial elections to pave way for preparations for this year’s 19th Annual People’s Conference .

Yesterday’s extraordinary Politburo session checked on the state of preparedness for this year’s annual indaba and to receive reports from the various committees involved in the preparations.

Dr Bimha said the elections would be held at a date to be announced.

He also announced the co-option of the current national Youth League executive members into the Central Committee.

Dr Bimha said President Mnangagwa said the extraordinary Politburo session was necessitated by the urgency of the National Annual People’s Conference which will be held from the 25-30 October 2021.

National chairperson Cde Oppah Muchinguri-Kashiri who also chairs the national committee on the conference preparations, gave a report on the state of preparedness of the party to host the conference.

The Politburo endorsed the recommendation to reduce the number of delegates attending both the national conference as well as the provincial virtual centres.

“It also endorsed the need to follow the Covid-19 regulations and protocols. This implies that all delegates at each provincial centre must have been vaccinated and tested. They must be able to observe social distancing,” said Dr Bimha.

“The Politburo following deliberations resolved to suspend provincial elections until further notice. This was done to allow party structures to focus on the preparations of the Annual People’s Conference.”

The Politburo also reiterated the position of the party constitution on the youth league which states 35 years as the limit for league membership.

“It was agreed that this provision must be respected unconditionally and that the composition of the youth league at any time must be 35 years and below.

“However, to ensure growth of the national members of the youth league who are now above 35 years, it was resolved that these members will be retrained and redeployed as ex-officio members of the Central Committee.”

The district elections will go ahead as planned across the country’s 10 provinces.

Zanu PF acting Secretary for Youth League Cde Tendai Chirau commended the party and President Mnangagwa for co-opting the youth league members into the Central Committee.

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