ZAPU leader Dumiso Dabengwa yesterday did not attend the burial of the late hero Retired Lieutenant Colonel Harold Mtandwa Chirenda whom he worked with closely during the liberation struggle.
By Staff Reporter
The burial was characterised by a low turnout as most stands were not filled to capacity.
Zanu PF national chairman Simon Khaya Moyo, who was part of the Zipra forces who fought side by side with Chirenda, was also conspicuous by his absence.
Dabengwa told NewsDay in a telephone interview after the burial that he failed to attend burial because he was attending another funeral in Bulawayo.
“I had to attend another funeral today (yesterday) of Ben Dlamini who was also an active member,” said Dabengwa.
“We worked together for a very long time (with Chirenda) and I attended the funeral parade this side in Bulawayo. It’s just that Dlamini’s body arrived on Wednesday and the funeral was today, so I could not leave the funeral also this side.”
Chirenda was in the Zipra High Command together with the late General Lookout Masuku and Retired Brigadier General Ambrose Mutinhiri.
Mutinhiri attended the burial.
Speaking at the burial Acting President Joice Mujuru said Chirenda’s death came to remind the party of a dark 2013 which was marked by the loss of many party cadres.
“His (Chirenda) demise comes against the background of a dark 2013 when we lost quite a number of comrades, including our Vice-President Cde John Landa Nkomo,” said Mujuru.
“We all prayed for some respite, hoping 2014 would start well, start on a happy note. No, we were wrong. It has started on a tearful note and the nation is back in mourning.”
Mujuru added: “He was part of a pioneering group of veteran freedom fighters who took up arms to free you and me, to free all of us as Africans thrown into a life of bondage by a cruel colonial history.”
He was one of the first Zipra military trainers at Morogoro Camp, which opened in 1968.
Chirenda, whose Chimurenga name was Elliot Masengo, died on January 1 at United Bulawayo Hospitals after a long illness.
He was 69.