ZIMUTO – Villagers yesterday thronged the Mudenge homestead in Zimuto communal lands to bid farewell to national hero Minister Stan Mudenge.
Mudenge died at a Masvingo hotel last Thursday. His body lay in state at his homestead in the Bawa area in Zimuto on Saturday before it was flown to Harare aboard an Air Force of Zimbabwe helicopter at 2 pm yesterday afternoon.
A sombre atmosphere engulfed the Bawa area as relatives and friends came to pay homage to the veteran educationist. Speaker after speaker described Mudenge’s death as a huge loss to the province and the nation at large.
Zimbabwe Chiefs’ council president Chief Fortune Charumbira said Mudenge was an exemplary leader and a straight forward person. “Mudenge was a straight forward person who always stood for the truth and had a deep passion to develop Masvingo province but now he is no more. We are at a loss so my appeal to everyone including the political leaders in this province is that lets walk in the same direction, lets unite as a way of honouring this gallant son of the province,” said Chief Charumbira.
ZanuPF politburo member Dzikamai Mavhaire said: “We have lost a great son of the province and there is no question about it and the challenge that is there for us who remain behind is to honour Mudenge.” Masvingo Governor and Resident Minister Cde Titus Maluleke said Mudenge’s death was a huge loss to the province.
“The death of Mudenge is a huge loss and the void he leaves behind will be difficult to fill, we used to rely on him for advice on key issues and without his advice the people of Masvingo are more poorerand vulnerable,” he said.
ZanuPF Central Committee member Clemence Makwarimba said: “What hurts me most is that I was seating with him at a hotel a few hours before he died and little did I know that we were parting ways.” ZanuPF Masvingo provincial chairman Lovemore Matuke said the revolutionary party was the biggest loser in Masvingo because Mudenge was always there for it.
Mudenge joins other late luminaries in Masvingo such as Vice President Simon Muzenda, Retired Air Chief Marshal Josiah Tungamirai, Retired General Vitalis Zvinavashe and Dr Eddison Zvobgo among others who were declared national heroes.
Mr George Chabururuka, the director of Finance and Administration in the Ministry of Higher and Tertiary Education said Mudenge was a principled man who wanted to make sure every Zimbabwean had access to higher education.
As the white casket bearing Mudenge was being put in the helicopter draped with the national flag, some mourners ululated in acknowledgement of the outstanding contributions he made in the province.
Accompanying Mudenge’s body were his widow Mildred and only surviving son Pedzisayi, Chief Charumbira, Governor Maluleke, Matuke, Major General Engelbert Rugeje, Retired Major General Gibson Mashingaidze and Four Brigade Deputy Commander Colonel Gift Murawa. Defence Minister Emmerson Mnangagwa and service chiefs also sent their heartfelt condolence to President Mugabe and the Mudenge family.
“For us, the late Minister was a veteran nationalist, accomplished historian, distinguished educationist, astute diplomat and national hero,” said Minister Mnangagwa in a statement.
“He diligently served the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, which he helped establish at independence in 1980.” He said when the land reform programme was initiated, he was at the helm of the Ministry where he ensured that Zimbabwe’s position on the land issue was clearly articulated.
In his condolence message, Zanu PF national chairman Simon Khaya Moyo said Mudenge’s death came as a shock to patriotic and peace loving Zimbabweans.
“Dr Mudenge was a cadre of the revolution as evidenced by his incarceration at Gonakudzingwa in 1966 where he joined the late Cde Joshua Mqabuko Nkomo and hundreds of other nationalists, whose only crime was to fight for the freedom of Zimbabwe,” he said.
“Even after his release he remained consistent and persistent in the fight for the freedom of the motherland.” “As a distinguished and committed intellectual, he died on duty,” said Khaya Moyo adding, “In his demise the Mudenge family has been robbed of a shinning star…Zimbabwe has lost an unflinching servant, Africa is without an intellectual of superlative repute and mankind is poorer by his absence.” Harare Institute of Technology also extended their condolences to the Mudenge family.
“To HIT Dr Mudenge was an enigma, scholar of note, historian, diplomat, motivational speaker and astute politician rolled into one. He was the patron of our pioneer national outreach HIT Robotics Challenge tournament which he was to unveil in Masvingo next Saturday,” said HIT acting vice chancellor, Engineer Quinton Kanhukamwe in a statement