By Farirai Machivenyika
President Mnangagwa has said Zimbabwe must desist from practices and attitudes that divide the country, and identified dialogue as a central plank in the Second Republic.
He said this to hundreds of people who thronged the National Heroes Acre in Harare yesterday for the burial of Cde Mishack Ntundu Velaphi, who passed away in Bulawayo on Monday last week.
Cde Velaphi (82), who was a Zanu-PF National Consultative Assembly member, died at United Bulawayo Hospitals from a diabetes-related ailment.
Said President Mnangagwa: “We must resolutely oppose, shun and expose tribalism, regionalism, nepotism, corruption and all other divisive and retrogressive practices. Let us preach and live in peace, love and harmony.”
The President said his administration was committed to peace and unity that has seen it engaging other political players.
“My administration’s quest to further entrench the culture of peace, love and unity has seen us engage in a political dialogue with those political parties who are progressive and patriotic to our great country.
“The culture of dialogue will remain a hallmark of the Second Republic,” President Mnangagwa added.
Turning to Cde Velaphi’s life, the President described him as a selfless cadre who was dedicated to the liberation struggle and the defence of the country’s sovereignty.
“It is this rich record, his unflinching persistence, consistency, commitment and loyalty, which has earned him a place in our hearts and informed our decision to lay him to rest at this great shrine of honour, the National Heroes Acre, alongside many other revolutionaries gone before him,” he said.
The President said Cde Velaphi’s political activism began a tender age.
“His political consciousness was ignited from a very young age as he witnessed persistent humiliation, oppression and the tyranny of the racist white colonial regime on the African native,” President Mnangagwa said.
He added that the late national hero was heavily involved in sabotaging the colonial regime when he joined the National Democratic Party in 1960.
“Our hero immersed himself in political activities focusing mostly on undermining the authority of the colonial administration through acts of sabotage to make it difficult for the British South African Police to patrol the rural areas,” the President said.
“Cde Velaphi’s span of operation extended to areas such as Bulilima, Matobo, Seula and Gwanda. He distinguished himself by his militancy and worked closely with other brave and courageous NDP youths as they intensified their daring acts of rebellion against the colonial administration.”
The President said some of Cde Velaphi’s peers include the likes of Cdes Ackim Ndlovu, Ethan Dube, Abel Siwela, Thomas Ngwenya, Clark Mpofu and Dumiso Dabengwa among others.
“His clandestine activities did not go unnoticed by the colonial regime, leading to his arrest and trial at the Bulawayo High Court in 1963 for possessing weapons of war including explosives.
“He was sentenced to seven years imprisonment which he served at Khami Prison, where we met,” he said.
President Mnangagwa said Cde Velaphi went on to be detained between 1968 and 1974 and was detained again in 1977 until his release in 1979.
Cde Velaphi was also part of the Zapu electoral directorate in the 1980 elections.
“After the Unity Accord between PF Zapu and Zanu-PF, Cde Velaphi became actively involved in the building of party structures for the reconstituted Zanu-PF party.
“In spite of undertaking high level party assignments, our national hero was a humble cadre who had high regard for the party constitution, regulations and procedures and norms,” President Mnangagwa said.
Earlier in the day, President Mnangagwa, accompanied by Vice Presidents Constantino Chiwenga and Kembo Mohadi, took the lead at a body viewing ceremony held at Stodart Hall in Mbare.
Cabinet ministers, service chiefs and Zanu-PF heavy weights were among the mourners who bade farewell to the late Cde Velaphi.
Relatives and friends also had an opportunity to view the body before the proceeding to the National Heroers’ Acre for burial.
Mbare Chimurenga Choir and Zanu-PF youths entertained the gathering with music and dances throughout the process.
Cde is survived by his wife Margaret, six children, 12 grandchildren and two great grandchildren.