Mugabe consoles Tekere family

HARARE – Zanu PF President and First Secretary, Robert Mugabe has sent his condolences to the Tekere family following the death of veteran and party founder Edgar Zivanai Tekere, on Tuesday.

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Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai and Deputy Prime Minister Arthur Mutambara visited Tekere’s widow in Mutare at different times on Wednesday to pay their respects.

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Tsvangirai, who leads the MDC-T, was heckled by Zanu PF supporters at the Tekere home. His spokesman, Luke Tamborinyoka, later said: “These mourners are trying to hijack the body of a person who did not belong to their party. This is indecent and unAfrican.

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“What is important is that the Prime Minister has managed to offer his condolences.”

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Mugabe said he learnt about Tekere’s death with a deep sense of sorrow.

He described him as a nationalist with a long standing involvement in the country’s struggle for independence.

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Mugabe said Tekere’s demise, though increasingly likely especially in the last few months, nevertheless hit those who worked with him as especially tragic and a deep loss to the country.

He said alongside his peers who include the two late Vice Presidents Joshua Nkomo and Joseph Msika, the late Maurice Nyagumbo, late James Chikerema and late Bonzo Nyandoro, Tekere’s life story illustrates the ups and downs of the struggle as it assumed different forms and entered various phases.

He described him as fearless, highly temperamental, and as a man who did not hesitate to take risks for his cause, often paying a heavy price in the process.

Tekere suffered countless arrests, detentions, restrictions and long prison terms at various centres and in many prisons around the country, including Salisbury, Marandellas, Whawha and Sikombela.

Mugabe said Tekere’s death evoked memories of the hard and arduous road they walked together, right from the painful days of restrictions, detentions and imprisonment at the hands of racist Rhodesians, to the days of their escape from Rhodesia to join thousands upon thousands of young Zimbabwean fighters housed in various bases in Mozambique.

The President said Tekere served the struggle well, running many errands for it especially after 1977 when he became the party’s secretary general.

This commitment remained unshaken well into independence when he chose to pursue a different vision in national politics.

Mugabe said he respects his choices in the latter part of his life even though he later voluntarily decided to rejoin the party, but was sadly too ill to serve it actively.

Mugabe urged the bereaved Tekere family, especially his wife and his children to remain strong and hopeful, and draw inspiration from Tekere’s well deserved place in the narrative of this country adding that he did not live his life in vain.

Meanwhile, the Zanu PF party says deliberations on the status quo of veteran nationalist and former Secretary General of the party, Edgar Tekere, who died on Tuesday, will be announced by the Politburo in due course.

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With Manicaland Province having already requested for the late Tekere to be accorded a national hero status, Zanu PF Secretary for Information and Publicity, Rugare Gumbo told State media that the party’ Secretary for Administration, Didymus Mutasa will soon give a collective decision status quo of the late gallant son of the soil.

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“We have lost one of our gallant fighters and certainly, the Politburo will announce the party’s decision as soon as possible,” said Gumbo.

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Defence Minister, Emmerson Mnangagwa says Tekere was a vibrant revolutionary, who exhibited vast experience and knowledge that brought about independence, adding that his death is a blow to the nation.

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“We have lost a man, whom we walked with during the hardest times of our revolution. When we were in Mozambique, he was with us, he was our leader, our Secretary General, who guided us throughout,” Mnangagwa said.

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In his remarks, Deputy Prime Minister Arthur Mutambara, who described the late Tekere as a nation builder, said the late nationalist was a source of inspiration to both young and old during and after independence and his departure should be treated with the respect it deserves.

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Tekere, who was battling with cancer, died at Murambi clinic in Mutare at the age of 74.

He was founder member of the then Zimbabwe African National Union (ZANU) and helped in organising the party during the Lancaster House talks.

Together with Robert Mugabe, Tekere served eleven years at Hwa-Hwa State Prison, Sikombela Detention Centre and Salisbury Prison.

Upon release from prison in 1975, Tekere and Mugabe left and crossed into Mozambique on foot.
They followed the Gairezi River trail to Seguranza Military Camp in Mozambique, to mastermind the struggle.

At independence, Tekere was elected the first Zanu PF Secretary General and became instrumental in inviting Bob Marley to perform at Rufaro Stadium for the official Zimbabwean Independence Celebration.

Tekere was appointed Minister of Manpower Planning in the new government led by the then Prime Minister Robert Mugabe in 1980.

He is survived by his wife, Ruvimbo and child, Farai Zechariah.