BULAWAYO – Scores of Zanu-PF leaders in Matabeleland broke down yesterday at the Joshua Mqabuko Nkomo International Airport as the body of Vice-President John Landa Nkomo arrived in Bulawayo en route to his rural home in Tsholotsho.
Matabeleland North Governor and Resident Minister Thokozile Mathuthu and her Matabeleland South counterpart Angeline Masuku openly wept as the death of the Vice-President finally dawned on them.
Zanu-PF national chairman Simon Khaya Moyo also shed tears while party secretary for legal affairs and Defence Minister Emmerson Mnangagwa, State Security Minister Sydney Sekeramayi and Zanu-PF secretary for information and publicity Rugare Gumbo were visibly dejected.
Hundreds of Zimbabweans from different political inclinations thronged the airport to pay their last respects to the gallant national hero.
The sight of Vice-President Nkomo’s white casket, draped in the national flag, drew tears from the gathering.
Earlier in the day, hundreds of other Zimbabweans had gathered for a church service at 1 Commando Regiment in Harare. Senior Government and Zanu-PF officials were among those who attended.
A gun carriage later ferried the casket bearing the Vice-President’s body to the Harare International Airport where it was conveyed onto a Bulawayo-bound Air Zim Boeing 737 befittingly named Mbuya Nehanda.
Khaya Moyo, Didymus Mutasa (Zanu-PF secretary for administration); Mnangagwa, Gumbo, Sekeramayi, Kembo Mohadi, Oppah Muchinguri, Absolom Sikhosana and Sikhanyiso Ndlovu were part of the accompanying delegation.
The aircraft touched down in Bulawayo where the high-ranking party officials battled hard to hold back tears. The body was then transferred to an Air Force of Zimbabwe helicopter, which flew to Tsholotsho. Home Affairs Minister Kembo Mohadi said the body of the late hero was expected to lie in state in Tsholotsho.
“It will then be taken to his school, John Landa Nkomo, which he built for the Sani people at his rural home, before being flown back to Bulawayo where it will be taken to his house in Sandringham suburb.
“It will again lie in state there for a few hours before the major ceremony at White City Stadium. This is where the main ceremony will take place and we expect people to be seated by noon.”
Mohadi said the body would be flown back to Harare afterwards. It will be taken to Nkomo’s Milton Park home awaiting burial on Monday. Body-viewing will be conducted at Stodart Hall in Mbare.
“From Stodart Hall, the gun carriage will transport the body to the National Heroes’ Acre for burial. We again expect people to be seated at the national shrine by 10 am,’’ said Mohadi, adding that more than 20 buses were on standby to ferry mourners to the shrine.
“We urge people to turn up in their thousands to bid farewell to one of Zimbabwe’s greatest men who shall forever be remembered for his role in liberating us from the bondage of the white settler regime.’’
Meanwhile, South African President Jacob Zuma has hailed Nkomo for helping shape Zimbabwe’s political history.
In a statement released by South Africa’s Department of International Relations and Co-operation, President Zuma said the late Vice-President would be remembered for the role he played in Zimbabwe’s political history.
“Our thoughts go out to the entire Nkomo family and the people of Zimbabwe,” said President Zuma. Sunday Mail