By Tawanda Mangoma
Chikombedzi — The Zimbabwe Defence Forces on Saturday fulfilled a pledge made during the liberation struggle, as they visited Gezani Village in Chiredzi South where the community was asked to identify three development projects which the army will undertake.
The development comes as the army is already renovating Dumisa Primary School in the same constituency which was destroyed by Cyclone Dineo.
The army has also been removing landmines planted by the Rhodesian government along the border line in the area.
The pledge was revealed in a speech read on behalf of Commander ZDF General Constantino Chiwenga by Chief of Staff, General Staff Zimbabwe National Army Major-General Trust Mugoba during the burial of Headman Gezani.
Gen Chiwenga pledged to fulfil some of the promises made during the war by the revolutionary fighters that they would champion development, especially in areas which they operated from.
“We want the community to identify two or three projects in Gezani area which the Zimbabwe Defence Forces will undertake for you,” he said.
“Give us a school, clinic or anything of your choice and we will send our team of engineers and builders to do it for the community this year. We want team work; we have partners which we are working with at Dumisa Primary School which are CBZ Bank and FBC Bank.
“Even the community, you must be active so that our development projects will be completed quickly.”
Gen Chiwenga said if they were the ones, who recommended people to be buried at the National Heroes Acre, they would have recommended Chief Gezani to be among them.
He recalled the brutal assault which the then Chief Gezani, father to the deceased chief, was subjected by the Rhodesians in 1976 when he was accused of providing shelter and food to freedom fighters.
“Some of you don’t understand when we speak about the war of liberation,” said Gen Chiwenga. “Here in the Gaza Province, we operated at that mountain up there, that was ‘Base Mukaradi’, a base to which we were sheltered by the father of Chief Gezani whom were are laying to rest today.
“The colonialists had to set dogs on him, interrogating him about our whereabouts. He never betrayed the revolution, he did not divulge the information because he had the revolution at heart.
“His son, Chief Gezani we are burying today did not lose faith in the revolution; he had to take a leaf from the duties which his father rendered to us while they also nursed him of his injuries. Unfortunately, he died in 1992 because of the wounds he sustained during the attack.”
Gen Chiwenga said Chief Gezani was a potential candidate to be accorded national hero status, judging by his deeds.
“We did not feel the difference when he took over from his father who was ill in 1976,” he said. “We were still welcome to ‘Base Mukaradi’ and our comrades received food and everything from his jurisdiction.
“It’s just unfortunate that the arm of the party which recommends people to be buried at the national shrine did not do so, but if it was us to make a decision we would have accorded him the national hero status.”
Retired Brigadier-General Kalisto Gwanetsa, MP to Chiredzi South Constituency, described Base Mukaradi as a gateway to Zimbabwe’s independence, as many liberation fighters used it to and from Mozambique.
“Base Mukaradi resembles an important gate way to Zimbabwe’s freedom. Many who used the Gaza Province as their route to Mozambique for training still remember the level of contribution which Chief Gezani made,” he said.
“Ask Judge President Justice George Chiweshe, the late Charles Munyoro, Cde Charles Gumbo and many more, they will tell you that this man was a warrior.”
Chiredzi District Administrator Mr Ndeya Nyede, who was the guest speaker, thanked the ZDF for their efforts to help develop Chiredzi District.
“Your works will go a long way in uplifting the standards of living for the people of Chiredzi,” said Mr Nyede.
“The funeral was also attended by young brother to the late Chief Gezani, Brigadier-General Grey Mashaba Chauke and Commander 4 Infantry Brigade Exebious Tshuma.