GOVERNMENT is set to officially confer national hero status on Zanu founder Ndabaningi Sithole today, a year after President Emmerson Mnangagwa pledged to honour him posthumously.

Mnangagwa declared liberation struggle veterans’ stalwarts Sithole and James Chikerema and declared them national heroes in August last year.

Sithole, who founded Zanu in 1963, died in 2000 and was buried at his family farm in Mt Selinda, Chipinge. Chikerema died in 2006 and was interred at the family shrine in Zvimba, Mashonaland West province.

Both were ostracised after Independence after they became vocal against the late former President Robert Mugabe’s misrule.

In a statement, the Home Affairs ministry said the laying of wreaths on Sithole’s grave and conferment of national hero status will be held at the family’s Freedom Farm in Manicaland province.

“The Ministry of Home Affairs and Cultural Heritage wishes to advise the nation that the conferment of national hero status ceremony on the late Sithole shall be held this Saturday, June 10, 2023,” the statement read.

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“A private service led by United Church of Christ in Zimbabwe  shall be held at the family homestead.

“Only the guest of honour, senior government officials, party (Zanu PF) officials and a few invited guests shall attend this ceremony.

“After the brief ceremony, members of the public will be addressed at Emerald Hill School where the main event shall take place.”

Sithole broke away from Zapu in 1963 to form Zanu following leadership fights. He was elected Zanu’s founding president at the inaugural congress held  in Gweru in 1964.

He lost leadership of the party to Mugabe during an internal revolt after the two were released from prison in 1974.

Sithole went into self-imposed exile in the United States in 1983, returning to Zimbabwe nine years later to re-enter the political arena as leader of Zanu Ndonga.

He was subsequently elected MP for Chipinge in 1995.

He succumbed to a heart ailment in December 2000 after being hospitalised in the United States for two months.

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