On behalf of the party ZANU PF, Government of Zimbabwe and on my own behalf, I wish to tender my deepest, heartfelt sympathies to the Chimbandi family on the passing on of our national hero, Cde John Chimbandi.
Our condolences especially go to Amai Chimbandi and the children as they stand orphaned, without a dear husband, a loving father, a key guide and provider in life, that Cde Chimbandi always was. May they derive solace from the fact we all join them in this hour of grief.
Comrades and Friends, Fellow Zimbabweans;
This place is extremely special to all of us, our nation.
Here rests those brave Zimbabweans who fought for our independence, those who put the nation first and were willing to make the ultimate sacrifice. Here lies a generation of fighters, warriors and workers. In this sacred ground are memories of the past which still provide inspiration for the future. We look around and we see too many friends, mothers and fathers, brothers and sisters, comrades, fighters for freedom and warriors for our country and heroes for our people.
Today we gather here to lay to rest our national hero, Cde John Chimbandi. It is a very sad day indeed, one that reminds us yet again that those we love and hold so dear, will not always be with us. Such is the fate which awaits us all. We, however, grieve over each death to register our profound love for those taken away from us. He is a hero to us, his liberated people.
He played a heroic role in the liberation struggle and continued to work hard for the young state of Zimbabwe until his very final days, building this nation. Cde Chimbandi was a hard working diplomat who thrived in his roles, representing his nation, our beloved Zimbabwe.
There can be no greater service that a citizen can render to his people and his nation which surpasses one’s sacrifice. Today the nation salutes and honours him, as we lay him to rest at our revered national shrine. It is a modest recognition for the huge sacrifices which Cde Chimbandi made along with many other fellow comrades, both departed and those still with us. It is one which, we register our collective gratitude.
Born on 10th October, 1951, in the Zviyambi area of Wedza, the late Cde Chimbandi grew up under the harsh circumstances of settler colonial Southern Rhodesia. Like his African peers, he battled the bottlenecks of colonial education to emerge a successful student. After completing his Cambridge School Certificate at St Anne’s Mission Goto, in Wedza in 1969, he then pursued his Advanced Level studies at Ranche House, a college founded on a humanitarian urge to widen prospects for African students who otherwise could have been ejected out by the restrictive colonial educational system.
He then left the country to enrol for tertiary studies at the University of Botswana, which was much more than a search for higher education. It was a silent rejection of racist Rhodesia and all it stood for, principally its racial values which stood in the way of enterprising Africans. By in the meantime, Cde Chimbandi was already politically conscious enough to grasp the predicament of his people, and to feel the daily hurts and racial insults which stalked all Africans, making them second-class citizens in the land of their birth.
His decision to enrol for higher education was to equip himself intellectually, in order to better serve his fellow oppressed compatriots. In 1972, soon after completing his studies, Cde Chimbandi answered the national call by joining the armed struggle. After completing his military training in Tanzania in 1973, he came back to face a ruthless, well-armed enemy, in order to free his people.
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. Our oppressed people had witnessed the bloody end of freedom fighters who had engaged the Rhodesians at Chinhoyi and in Wankie. Thus, they knew the risks of picking up arms against the colonial regime, or supporting those who had done so.
In addition, trained cadres were still very few at that time and the scope of operations still geographically limited; as such the settler army could easily concentrate its firepower on this brave generation of fighters, who nevertheless stood determined and undeterred. In view of the enormous odds against them, their greatness remains a marvel to us all.
After a stint as the political commissar for all training camps in Mozambique, Cde Chimbandi was redeployed to Tanzania as ZANU’s Chief Representative for East Africa. He worked closely with the OAU Liberation Committee to ensure diplomatic and military support for the struggle. With this grounding in liberation diplomacy, it was natural that Cde Chimbandi would, in 1980, attest into, and serve the new independent Government of Zimbabwe as middle-rank officer in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
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.
Drawing from the life and career of our national hero, I challenge us all as Zimbabweans whether at home or abroad, in whatever field, to use our professions and skills to advance the national interests of our nation, moreso now as we seek to rebuild our country to become a middle income economy by 2030.
Cde Chimbandi’s time in service was even more distinguished by the fact that he continued to work, even after he had suffered a stroke which left his left side paralysed. For some, work is work, purely a means to make money and support one’s family.
Not for Cde Chimbandi, his work was an honour, a duty, to a degree, it was an extension to his own liberation struggle.
Let us who remain be motivated and inspired by his exemplary commitment to duty, his hard work, consistency and persistency which he pursued and executed right up to the very end.
Today Zimbabwe is independent and free. I urge those born after independence and successive generations to never take the story of our liberation struggle for granted. This independence and the freedoms we enjoy today were fought for and wrestled from an occupying foreign force.
It was purchased by the precious blood of sons and daughters of this nation, Cde Chimhandi among them. This is the story of Zimbabwe, indeed the story of most of Africa.
We erected this National Heroes Acre and many other sites across the country in order to embody the huge sacrifices of a brave generation, to which the late Cde John Chimhandi belonged. We repeatedly tell the story of the struggle not so much to cast ourselves in a heroic mould, but to remind one another as Zimbabweans that the independence and freedom this fighting generation secured for us must be kept and jealously guarded by all of us.
Furthermore, each generation must ensure that our independence is given its full complement of basic freedoms enshrined and guaranteed by our Constitution. Section 48 to Section 84 of our Constitution outlines the Fundamental Bill of Rights, which each generation must guarantee and deepen.
In the same vein, my Government fully recognises that independence must be accompanied by the full range of rights which must be enjoyed by all our citizens. This is hallmark of my administration, indeed I pledge that my Government will continue to serve with honour, honesty and humility, fully cognisant that power belongs to the people and is loaned to us for the enhancement of their welfare and well-being. “The voice of the people is the voice of God”. This principle is cardinal in my administration.
Comrades, fellow Zimbabweans;
As we head towards the harmonised general elections scheduled for 30th July 2018, we are determined to show the world that Zimbabwe’s democracy has come of age, through a peaceful, democratic, transparent, free, fair and credible election process. Allow me to once again call upon fellow citizens and leaders of political parties to display the same resolve and commitment, both in words and deeds. The world is watching, but more importantly, our people deserve our mature and respectful conduct as we solicit their support and votes.
We as Zimbabweans must be inspired and motivated by the life and the legacy Cde Chimbandi leaves behind.
He was a firm believer in unity and the collective national good. This is what he fought for, a better life for all, free from poverty, corruption and a country with decent jobs and dignity for all.
Let us equally draw from the unity of purpose that we displayed in November 2017, as we showcased a national trait imparted and refined by history, culture, traditions and collective temperament. I urge us therefore to summon that trait so that our elections surpass all set benchmarks in our quest to move forward, united in our diversity, to build a better future for all.
In addition, I exhort us to demonstrate our Zimbabwean hospitality to all the visitors who will be observing our elections. Let us show them that Zimbabwe is in a new era and that we are a cultured people, vanhu vane hunhu/abantu abalo buntu!
In the same breath, allow me to encourage those coming to observe our elections to acquaint themselves with our electoral laws and institutional arrangements so that they honestly determine and weigh any demands and complaints from whatever quarter, against reasonableness in terms of our law.
I am aware that our people continue to face hardships linked to shortages of cash in the economy, all to back up and complement their buying power. My Government remains fully seized with the matter. We have to date released millions of United States dollars into the market for circulation to ease this problem, however, as soon as the money is injected into the system, it is “sponged” out.
More creative ways of comprehensively tackling this problem, both in the short to medium term, are being considered. Meanwhile, I encourage us to increase our usage of plastic money in line with global trends.
I once again exhort those in the financial sector and ICT players to equip our various markets, formal and informal, throughout the country, with the requisite infrastructure to enhance nationwide non-cash transactions.
Similarly, we urge all stakeholders to ensure that the transacting public is not punished through excessive charges for the use of plastic money and electronic transactions.
Comrades, Fellow Zimbabweans;
Following close to 20 years of our country’s isolation, our robust engagement and re-engagement with the international community under the mantra “Zimbabwe is open for business” is bearing good fruit.
The importance of engaging without compromising national interests, however, remains key. This is one area which Cde Chimbandi understood quite well. Our engagement and re-engagement strategies must thus be informed by such values.
I am sure he lauds our efforts which have seen a sea-change in terms of Zimbabwe’s repositioning on the global stage. We continue to receive delegations from all corners of the world seeking to engage and do business with us.
As we engage the rest of the world for business, we are well aware of the need to engage and motivate domestic players. Our openness for business to the outside world will only be validated by a thriving local businesses.
As we bury our national hero, let us remember to build and consolidate peace in our communities and among us. Let us use the upcoming elections to rebuild, redefine and revamp our future, a future that the Cde Chimbandi and others fought for. This is a new Zimbabwe, full of energy, opportunity, freedom and hope.
To the Chimbandi family, I again convey my heartfelt condolences.
To our national hero, Cde John Chimbandi, I say go well, mwana wevhu.
Go well our hero.
Rest well and in eternal peace our hero.
I thank you.