FEARED Manicaland Zanu PF provincial secretary for production and labour Nathaniel Mhiripiri was found murdered at his farm in Nyazura on Tuesday, leaving a record of a life full of violence and intimidation against his political opponents.
BY OBEY MANAYITI/KENNETH NYANGANI
Mhiripiri’s body was found with bloodstains after he had gone missing since last Saturday.
The vociferous war veteran reportedly caused a reign of terror in Manicaland province, particularly Makoni, where he declared the district a no-go area for opposition parties and their supporters.
Although he walked scot-free in numerous instances as he allegedly got protection from powerful politicians, Mhiripiri had several brushes with the law for politically motivated violence and other alleged criminal behaviour.
He was also known for disrupting meetings where he felt his authority or that of Zanu PF was not respected, including going to the extent of burning copies of independent newspapers critical of the ruling party.
Because of his short temper, Mhiripiri found himself at odds with members of his party, including his seniors.
At one point he had a heated exchange with Manicaland Provincial Affairs minister Mandiitawepi Chimene during the reburial of fallen heroes at Old Mutare after she accused him of having once worked with the Rhodesian forces.
However, Zanu PF has sprung to his defence and wants him declared a provincial hero at a time when party youths were suspecting foul play.
Although several theories have been put forward over his mysterious death, police said they were still investigating the suspected murder.
Manicaland youth boss Mubuso Chinguno urged police to conduct thorough investigations and bring the culprits to book.
“Mhiripiri was a true revolutionary. He never defected from the party and he connected well with the grassroots. We are not going to find his replacement,” he said.
“We suspect foul play because it’s difficult to understand how a man like Mhiripiri can go for three days missing and is later found dead. We are, however, urging the police to conduct their investigations and those culprits should be brought to book and justice should prevail.”
Other parties said they would rather not invoke his past deeds.
MDC-T Manicaland spokesperson Trevor Saruwaka said although they held life as sacrosanct and always felt saddened by the loss of fellow human beings, Mhiripiri left a violent legacy they did not wish on anyone else.
“Having said that, we, however, want it to be recorded that our party bears many wounds of his wicked conduct as a Zanu PF merchant of violence especially in the 2000 Parliamentary elections, the 2002 Presidential elections and 2008 Presidential runoff elections. He can only be remembered as a misfit in a civilised country,” Saruwaka said.
“I hope some of his colleagues realise that the passing of Mhiripiri and others such as Joseph Mwale simply shows that no human being is immortal, hence while we still can we must always strive to live in harmony with fellow citizens.”
RDZ leader Elton Mangoma said: “We have a saying in Shona that goes: Don’t say too much bad things about a person who has departed because judgment is now in the hands of God. We are, however, sorry that he died under tragic circumstances.”
ZimPF founding elder Didymus Mutasa, who at one point was said to be working closely with Mhiripiri during their time in Zanu PF, weighed in repeating in vernacular the saying that don’t say ill about dead people.
“People say afa anaka (don’t say ill of the dead) and I suppose the same applies to Mhiripiri. We wish him well as he goes to meet God. We say rest in peace,” Mutasa said.