Zimbabweans from across the political divide this week buried their hatchet and joined forces to mourn Retired General Solomon Mujuru, the country’s first black army commander in post-independent Zimbabwe who died in a tragic fire incident at his farm in Beatrice on Tuesday morning.
So united have political parties that there have been few, if any, dissenting voices that indeed, Mujuru was a national hero.
In condolences, parties described Mujuru’s death as a sad and a great loss to the nation.
In its message of condolence, Zanu PF said Mujuru was “. . . a rare breed of a cadre, indeed a commander par excellence who was one of the pioneers of the armed struggle against colonial tyranny and went on to remain firm and resolute.”
Zanu PF’s bitter rival, MDC-T, concurred.
Party leader Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai said:
“The painful national story of our liberation cannot be told without mentioning the name Rex Nhongo, a true and gallant son of the soil.
“Though he died in very tragic circumstances, it is befitting that he died in the month that we celebrate and cherish the rich legacy of our national heroes.”
Leader of the small MDC party, Welshman Ncube added his voice saying: “A man who demonstrated courage and resilience in the protracted armed struggle that gave birth to our independence from colonial rule would, no doubt be sadly missed by his family and all peace loving Zimbabweans.”
Former presidential aspirant Simba Makoni, whose party Mavambo Kusile Dawn, who was at one time reportedly linked to Zanu PF’s Mujuru faction, agreed the general was a fearless leader, who deserved to be honoured.
“He was a fearless combatant, shrewd tactician, master strategist, as well as exemplary national leader. Zimbabwe has been robbed of a great military commander, with unwavering dedication to his country, and an enduring commitment to the upliftment and well being of its citizens,” he said.
MDC99 weighed in and called for an immediate inquiry into the late former army general’s death.
“The MDC99 is deeply concerned by the continuation of a culture whereby more and more deaths of key individuals occur under mysterious circumstances. To that end, we call for a thorough probe into the death of one of Zimbabwe’s truly gallant sons, General Mujuru,” said party leader Job Sikhala.
In Bulawayo, MDC provincial spokesperson described Mujuru as a “sober-minded politician who contributed towards the liberation of this country and did not believe in political violence. He will be greatly missed.”
Zanu PF provincial chairman Isaac Dakamela said the party was shocked at the “untimely death of Cde Mujuru and the circumstances behind his demise are even more painful”.
MDC-T provincial spokesperson Mandla Sibanda briefly put it: “What happened is very unfortunate.”
Meanwhile, Zapu called on the police to thoroughly investigate Mujuru’s death. The party said the death of a former high ranking army officer like Mujuru under the circumstances was likely to raise a lot of eyebrows and give birth to a number of conspiracy theories. Party spokesperson Methuseli Moyo said:
“We would like to send our sincere condolences to Joice Mujuru who also happens to be the country’s Vice-President, the rest of the family and country in general.
“It is important to note that Mujuru was a Zapu-trained soldier and the fact that he was the first commander of the Zimbabwe National Army.
“He was a moderate person and that distinguishes him from some Zanu PF people.”
Mines minister Obert Mpofu described Mujuru as a fearless fighter and specialist in the combat fighting format that he says earned him the army command post during and after the war.
Mpofu, a Zanu PF MP for Umguza said: “I trained with him in 1968 in Morogoro, Tanzania and after intensive training of nine months, we went to Chakwenja and then joined the Eastern Front at Sipolilo. We launched our operation at the Zambian and Zimbabwe border.”