ADDRESS BY HIS EXCELLENCY, THE PRESIDENT AND COMMANDER-IN-CHIEF OF THE ZIMBABWE DEFENCE FORCES, CDE E.D. MNANGAGWA AT THE BURIAL OF THE LATE NATIONAL HEROINE CDE THOKOZILE ANGELA MATHUTHU
Today is a solemn day in our nation as we gather here at this sacred National Shrine to lay to rest, mourn and celebrate the life of a gallant daughter of the soil, Cde Thokozile Angela Mathuthu, a wife, mother, a daughter, sister, comrade, our national heroine and a true patriot, whom we affectionately called “Cde Amai Mathuthu”. Our late national heroine passed on early last week after a long battle with cancer. We remember not only her life, but the journey she travelled, a journey well completed.
The burial today of our late national heroine comes barely a week after we had gathered here. It was indeed significant that Cde Amai Mathuthu peacefully passed on the very day we gathered on our Heroes Day to reflect, remember and pay special tribute to our fallen and living gallant sons and daughters of Zimbabwe.
On behalf of the party, Zanu-PF, the Government and on my own behalf, I want to convey my heartfelt condolences to the bereaved Mathuthu and Gumbo families, especially to uBaba, uMathuthu, who has lost a beloved wife and a life-long companion as well as to their children, who have lost a dear mother.
We pray that you take solace and find comfort in that it is our loss together; the whole nation is mourning and grieving with you. We may never fathom why it happened, but may we all be reassured in the faith and knowledge that our Dear Comrade, is now with the Lord. She fought a good fight, she finished the race and kept the faith. May her soul rest in eternal peace.
The late Cde Amai Mathuthu was born on 26 March 1957 in Bulawayo. Her history in the party is long and eventful. It is a history of hard, honest and dedicated work to the party. A history from which we must all draw inspiration and far-reaching lessons. From a very tender age, she knew her responsibilities to her people, who were then shackled by settler colonialism. Her family background gave her that consciousness and thus, she became politically active in the struggle to liberate our country from imperialism and colonialism.
Between 1975 and 1978 she became active in the Zimbabwe African People’s Union (ZAPU) Youth Wing, as a committee member and war collaborator. During that time she assisted combatants who were operating in areas such as the Tinde, Kamativi in Hwange and Binga districts.
Between 1979 and 1980 she was instrumental in the ceasefire when she housed some Zimbabwe People’s Revolutionary Army fighters in Gwayi and at independence she became PF-ZANU Women’s League committee member and deputy chairperson in Hwange District until 1983.
After the Unity Accord in 1987, she readily embraced the call for national unity and worked hard and honestly to support it. As a peace maker, she never looked back, thereafter.
The late Cde Mathuthu held a wide array of portfolios within the party, rising to become a member of the Central Committee and the Secretary for Transport and Social Welfare in the Politburo. At the time of her death, she was the Deputy Secretary of the party’s Women’s League. Throughout the years, she served the party with admirable distinction and executed her responsibilities professionally and diligently. It was her love for the party that saw her, at one time leave her hospital bed to go and cast her vote in Parliament, only to return to hospital thereafter.
She was a strong advocate of women empowerment and one of the members of the Women’s League who in 1999, initiated the call for greater female participation in national development both in the party’s and Government. She remained consistent, persistent and unflinchingly loyal to the ideals and values of our revolutionary party, until her untimely death on 13th August 2018.
Her life was a beacon to many. She was loved by all who knew her and had the honour to work with her. The late national heroine was humble, modest, unassuming and approachable, with a loving and motherly character. A devout Seventh Day Adventist, the late Cde Amai Mathuthu’s God-fearing humility, honesty, transparency trustworthiness and love, underpinned her success.
In Government, we have lost a dedicated and diligent public servant whose tireless efforts and work ethic left her as an exemplary servant leader. Her overriding national consciousness and singular commitment to national unity saw her appointment as Governor of Matabeleland North Province at a young age. She went on to serve in that capacity and became the longest serving Governor and Resident Minister to have been appointed, in any one province. This spoke eminently of her performance in that capacity. She was later appointed as Deputy Minister of Information, Media and Broadcasting Services.
As an eloquent communicator, she worked closely with rural communities whose interests and concerns she pushed with singular vigour and purpose. The late national heroine will be forever remembered for providing leadership in developmental projects in the province, such as Lupane State University and Elitsheni Government Complex projects among others. Her mission was to see these accomplished without fail, even agreeing to work in sub-standard conditions until better facilities were built.
Matabeleland North Province, which was under her charge, bore glaring characteristics of the settler legacy, particularly in respect of land. The bulk of the land belonged to white magnates and multinational companies which ran large, multiple conservancies. In sharp contrast, these existed alongside congested communities. Once Government took a deliberate decision to undertake the Land Reform Programme, in Matabeleland North, the responsibility of leading the change of that undesirable state of affairs, fell on the late Cde Mathuthu.
She vigorously worked to change the land ownership structure, which was central to our people’s aspirations and integral to their economic empowerment. She worked hard to decongest communal settlements, while opening new opportunities to the once marginalised black entrepreneurs who wanted to join the conservancy business. There was stiff resistance, however, she opposed it with belief, fortitude, remarkable skill and sensitivity.
Alongside the province she devoutly served, today we heartily thank her for the good work she accomplished. She may be leaving this life now, but we will continue to see her footprints across the province. Today, the people of Matabeleland North and indeed the nation as a whole can stand proud of the visionary, zeal and enthusiasm with which she undertook her duties.
Comrades and Friends;
The late national heroine, Cde Amai Mathuthu has left us at a time when the party has just secured a fresh mandate. The more than two-thirds majority is a loud show of support and confidence from the people. Drawing inspiration from the collective hope and dreams of all our people, we will as Government work tirelessly in the Second Republic to improve the lives of all our citizens, in every part of the country.
Principally, my Government has taken a decision to implement the constitutional requirements of devolving and decentralising the running of our national affairs. This is one of the strategies to rebuild our economy through modernisation and industrialisation; the creation of decent jobs as well as ensuring broad-based empowerment in line with our vision 2030.
In this vision, we have a special place for the country’s youths who deserve a better life and increased opportunities. They must therefore take this programme of devolved economic development, as specifically for them.
Yesterday, I returned from a very successfully 39th sadc Summit, which was held in Namibia under the theme “Promoting Infrastructure Development and Youth Empowerment for Sustainable Development”. This theme resonates with my Government’s initiatives to leapfrog the development of quality infrastructure and our determination to harness the collective, untapped potential resident in our youthful population.
As we begin the onerous journey towards economic growth and prosperity, let us all uphold the values of patriotism, unity, peace, love and harmony. Let us equally and always encourage and inculcate the spirit of hard honest work in service to one’s nation. These traits were embedded in the illustrious daughter of the soil, we lay to rest today. To the Mathuthu and Gumbo families, we thank you for giving us this principled, bold and fearless cadre. To the late Cde Amai Mathuthu, we say go well, go well daughter of this beloved land; Siyakubonga, hamba kahle qhawe lama qhawe Lala ngokuthula!
Famba zvakanaka, gamba rama gamba; Zorora murugare!
Rest in eternal peace, dear comrade!