Cabinet Ministers here present. Members of the diplomatic corps. The Mukonoweshuro family. Friends and fellow mourners. It is with deep sorrow and grief that I stand before you on the occasion of the burial of one of Zimbabwe’s finest sons.
Today, we bury a fine gentleman in the loamy soils of this hill, Professor Eliphas Mukonoweshuro, our distinguished Minister of Public Service and Member of Parliament for Gutu South.
There is no doubt in my mind that we are burying a national hero today.
And it is so by no coincidence that today is Heroes’ Day; that important day when we salute and remember the gallant sons and daughters of this land who fought selflessly for this great country that we all love.
Mukonoweshuro made his mark as an academic of repute at the University of Zimbabwe where he spent many years sharpening the minds of future leaders as a lecturer.
Many people passed through his hands and they bear testimony to his contribution in the building of this great nation.
And I know some of his products at the university are now Cabinet ministers who are with us here today.
When he joined politics, he was my chief adviser and one of the key negotiators in the first-ever inter-party negotiations between the MDC and Zanu PF.
As my chief adviser, he was no psychophant and he always gave his honest opinion and advice on key issues. Even if you disagreed with him, he was firm on his position and left you with no option but to follow his sound advice.
So at a personal level, I have lost a trusted friend and colleague, a man with whom I shared moments of both sorrow and laughter.
Any other politician of similar academic background would have opted for an urban seat, but such was his dedication to serve the people that he contested and won a rural constituency in Gutu.
So today, we mourn with the people of Gutu who have lost a dedicated representative.
We grieve with the Mukonoweshuro family, particularly the wife and child, who have lost a pillar of support.
At both government and party level, where he was national executive member, we have lost a fountain of wisdom and a dedicated patriot who cared so much for democracy to take root in this country.
Yes, he was of one the many people committed to completing the unfinished business of the liberation struggle and he sought to fight for true freedom and democracy in Zimbabwe.
He was a real man among men.
Mukono akanga ari mukono. Kwete mukono weshuro asi mukono wenyika.
He died serving his country as Public Service minister in the inclusive government.
I am certain that the only true tribute we can pay him as a government is to ensure that we improve the working conditions for civil servants, an issue that I know troubled him until his death.
So he is indeed a true hero of this land. He could have been a Cabinet minister, but like the true hero that he was, we bury him here alongside the great company of ordinary Zimbabweans who lie in the rich soils of Warren Hills Cemetery.
Yes, we bury him in the great company of patriots such as Tonderai Ndira; great fighers who lie here and whose only crime was that they demanded freedom and democracy in the country of their birth.
To the Mukonoweshuro family, our message is that we grieve with you.
We mourn with you.
This loss is not yours alone, but it is a shared loss.
We will miss this great man in government.
They will miss him at the university and we will miss him in the party where his contribution speaks for itself. In May 2006, Professor Mukonowshuro was a key architect in the development of a roadmap to a free and democratic Zimbabwe.
In that roadmap, we envisaged peaceful democratic resistance, inter-party dialogue, a transitional authority, a new Constitution and free and fair elections.
So this inclusive government is a fruition of the ideas of this great man who five years ago predicted this inclusive transitional authority as the only way to bringing a legitimate and credible government in Zimbabwe.
So I say go well, son of the soil.
Fambai zvakanaka, Mukanya.
I thank you.