Innocent Ruwende and Tendai Mugabe
Zimbabweans yesterday bade farewell to national hero Cde John Chimbandi, with President Mnangagwa describing him as a rare breed of cadres who served his country with distinction even when his health was failing after a paralysing stroke.
Cde Chimbandi died at Arundel Clinic in Harare on June 2, after battling chronic obstructive pulmonary disorder and heart enlargement, which affected his breathing.
Celebrated as a workaholic who continued to serve the nation after suffering a stroke which partially paralysed the left side of his body, Cde Chimbandi’s burial drew mourners from all walks of life.
Mourners included high-ranking Government officials and zanu-pf members, diplomats, captains of industry, friends and relatives.
Proceedings began in the morning with people drawn from business, politics and academia thronging Stodart Hall in Mbare for a brief ceremony and body-viewing.
Groups of men, women, youths and Mbare Chimurenga Choir celebrated the life of Cde Chimbandi through song and dance.
On arrival at Stodart Hall, President Mnangagwa and First Lady Auxilia Mnangagwa led the body-viewing session followed by Cabinet ministers, service chiefs and other dignitaries.
Vice President Constantino Chiwenga and his wife Cde Marry Chiwenga, Vice President Kembo Mohadi, Speaker of Parliament Cde Jacob Mudenda, Deputy Speaker Mabel Chinomona, Environment, Water and Climate Minister Oppah Muchinguri-Kashiri, Home Affairs Minister Obert Mpofu, Justice, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs Minister Ziyambi Ziyambi, Minister of State for Harare Provincial Affairs Miriam Chikukwa and Politburo member Cde Sydney Sekeramayi, attended the ceremony.
There were wild cheers when President Mnangagwa emerged from the hall, with residents who gathered outside the hall chanting the election motto “ED pfeee”.
Some shouted “My vote is yours Mr President on July 30”.
Cde Chimbandi’s body was ferried to its final resting place at the national shrine on a gun carriage.
His daughter Annah said her father was a humble man.
“He was a man of few words and a humble person. “He was a protective father and very generous.”
President Mnangagwa gave a detailed eulogy of Cde Chimbandi’s illustrious political career.
He said Cde Chimbandi belonged to a rare breed of people who sacrificed their lives to liberate the country.
“Cde Chimbandi belongs to a generation of brave and highly conscious cadres who opened the second and decisive phase of our armed struggle when all looked bleak and when support for the struggle was as hesitant as it was risky,” he said.
“Our oppressed people had witnessed the bloody end of freedom fighters who had engaged the Rhodesians at Chinhoyi and Wankie.
“A quiet and unassuming man, Cde Chimbandi rose through the ranks, serving his country in various capacities, both at home and abroad. Indeed, his revolutionary background informed his way, in promoting and protecting Zimbabwe’s national interests. For through his diplomatic efforts he never stopped fighting for the good of his country, to build Zimbabwe.”
Cde Chimbandi was born on October 01, 1950 to Anna and Martin Chimbandi in Hwedza’s Zviyambe area.
He attended St Annes Mission, Goto and Ranch House College in Harare for secondary education from 1964 to 1969.
Cde Chimbandi obtained a Bachelor of Political Science degree from the University of Botswana between 1969 and 1971.
He received his military training in Tanzania after joining the liberation in 1972.
At independence Cde Chimbandi joined the Ministry of Foreign Affairs as Assistant Secretary for Africa and the Middle East.
He later served in various capacities in the diplomatic circles until his retirement last year.