President Mugabe attributes his longevity and health to a good lifestyle and the Lord’s blessing, while warning against sexual promiscuity and alcohol abuse. He was speaking at yesterday’s burial of Justice Andrew Mutema at the National Heroes Acre in Harare.

\n

Justice Matema, whose nom de guerre was Kingsley Dube Vatema, died in Bulawayo a fortnight ago and is the first judge to be interred at the National Heroes Acre. Reflecting on the late national hero’s life, President Mugabe said: “We cannot fulfil all our aspirations in life because we do not know if we will wake up tomorrow, but that is the way of life (and) that is the natural phenomenon in us. But we continue to plan for today and tomorrow.

\n

“… We do not know the date and time when the Lord will call us home. We do not know what He who gives life plans for us. He who gave us life says you are going to be a boy or you are going to be a girl and there is life now nurture yourself. “We thank that this man (Justice Mutema) was able to nurture himself. What pains us is that he has been taken at a young age. When I say at a young age I know what I am talking about, but some might not understand what I am saying.

\n

“(Cde Mutema was) 56 years. Now look at me speaking. I am 91 and now aiming 92. It is the Lord (who has seen me live to this age), that is His way of doing. Others get a long life, others get a short life (and) some die at young age. “We don’t give ourselves life. What we can do is to avoid those activities that may harm our health and shorten our lives.

\n

“If you know that alcohol, yes it might be tasty, destroys your liver, so why drink it? …We should aim to ensure that we live longer to ensure our life is good. We should understand that if I get promiscuous I will get HIV. “Some say I will deal with the consequences later. To deal with the consequences later when you have been infected? When you are regretting? When you are saying I have been infected?

\n

“You would have been infected so what should people do when you are the only one who invited the infection.” He went on: “The man we are burying was looking after himself and his health very well. Yes, we do not know what is going on with our internal organs. Even if we are eating healthy foods and going to the doctors time and again, but the Lord is the one that gives strong genes to ensure you live for a long time.”

\n

President Mugabe said Justice Mutema was a man of many ambitions who had managed to fulfil most of them through fighting for Independence, getting military training and then joining the judiciary. “The late had his own idea of finishing his education at Silveira Mission, but because of the wish to fight for the freedom of his country and his people, he left education and said he would pursue it when there is Independence in the country.

\n

“We gave him training during the liberation struggle and when he was identified to be a trustworthy man, he was sent to Romania, which was giving us good support in training our soldiers in guerrilla warfare. “There he trained and gained knowledge in artillery and that is the knowledge he brought back home. At independence, we thought we could integrate him into the army, but he had other ideas to say I have contributed towards the freedom of my country and now want to start another journey which will give me another career.

\n

“That is when he joined the judiciary. “Within the judiciary he rose from a magistrate to become a judge and those were the wishes he managed to fulfil while he was alive.” President Mugabe said heroes like Cde Mutema and others interred at the national shrine deserved to rest in such honour and those opposed to this should find their “own mountain to bury their colleagues”.

\n

He said Justice Mutema had joined the liberation struggle at age 18 and became a son of the soil, identifying himself as a nationalist who knew no tribal or regional boundary and treated all Zimbabweans equally. “Justice Mutema and many young men and women who joined the liberation struggle, set themselves apart, by sacrificing their lives for the liberation of this country from the white colonial settlers,” he said.

\n

“That spirit of self-sacrifice to free ones country from foreign occupation could not have been embraced by the weak and timid. “It required brave men and women, who could stare death in the face against the background of a formidable colonial army.”

\n

President Mugabe poured scorn people who refused to fight the Second Chimurenga but were now trying to project themselves as leaders and liberators. Justice Mutema crossed into Mozambique in 1977 as part of a group that included Major-General Englebert Rugeje.

\n

At Chibawawa Camp, Justice Mutema was nominated to teach school children before being posted to the battle front in 1977. After a stint on the frontlines, Justuce Mutema and several others were directed to undergo specialised training in military signal communication, aspects of aviation and artillery in Romania.

\n

Justice Mutema specialised in anti-aircraft radar and air defence artillery systems. The late High Court judge is survived by his wife Suzan (nee Dodzo) and four children; Ruvimbo, Tatenda, Tinotenda andTawanda.