Women and girls should emulate selfless sacrifices made by national heroines Cdes Victoria Fikile Chitepo and Vivian Mwashita, who dedicated their lives fighting for the total emancipation of Zimbabweans, the President has said. He urged the new generation not to be too ambitious in its quest for leadership positions, but to first learn the ropes of leadership from their superiors such as Cdes Chitepo and Mwashita.
Mugabe made the remarks in his address during the burial of the two national heroines at the National Heroes’ Acre in Harare yesterday.
President Mugabe said it was important for Zimbabweans to emulate the pair by contributing meaningfully to socio-economic development. “We thank these two women for the exemplary lives that they lived. And we say to other women and especially to the young girls, there are the two examples, choose if you want to be a Mwashita, follow her.
“But your fight now must be a fight in order to assist Government in transforming our economy, in improving the lives of the people. That is a fight we must fight, and we need you young girls. So be Mwashitas in our socio-economic struggle, be Mwashitas in our Zim-Asset. We need you.
“And to the rest of women who are mothers and mothers-to-be, there is an example of Mai Chitepo — very humble. She was not known here. “We brought her from Zululand. She came from outside the country and worked with our women to form the Women’s League to show them that a committed woman can do what men do,” said President Mugabe.
He said the conferment of national heroine status on the two comrades was testimony of the role women could play in the development of the country.
“Determination now on the part of the younger ones is to defend the nation at all costs, to remain vigilant, to remain prepared to defend the country and to follow the path of acceptance that if you want to be leaders, you must first want also to be followers. You must be prepared to be followers in the first place.
“And to the leaders who lead honestly, leaders who are not selfish, who do not think of themselves first, who do not think of their positions first, who think of the people and the people and forever the people because it’s the people we fought for and the people include, naturally, our women.” He said it was important for men to accept that women could also surpass their male counterparts by contributing significantly to the country’s development.
He said the two heroines were examples of love and courage, which both men and women were supposed to emulate. President Mugabe also implored Zimbabweans to draw lessons from the contributions made by Cdes Chitepo and Mwashita, which proved that women were capable of contributing significantly to the country.
The President, who is the patron of the Zimbabwe National Liberation War Veterans Association, paid tribute to the heroines saying their individual contributions to the liberation struggle deserved respect. He described Cde Chitepo as an angel character, warm, loving, humble and motherly.
President Mugabe said Cde Chitepo was also strong, courageous and nationalistic, which saw her play a major role in the liberation of Zimbabwe despite being born in South Africa. “Two people immensely influenced her political career. Her father, who was a South African African National Congress cadre, and her husband (national hero Herbert Chitepo), who would land her in the heart of nationalist politics spearheaded by the NDP, Zapu and Zanu.
“Instead of choosing a bed of roses and a life of relative comfort owing to her good educational background and teaching career, Mai Chitepo chose a bed of thorns, characterised by nationalist politics of resistance against the oppressive white settler regime.
“And because of her political conviction, Mai Chitepo’s life became one of lifelong commitment to the liberation struggle, fighting alongside her husband, when he was still alive and alongside other comrades in Tanzania and Zambia after the death of her husband.”
He said the Chitepos risked their lives by opening their Highfield house for nationalist meetings during the liberation struggle. President Mugabe said Cde Chitepo also played a major role in the formation of the Zanu Women’s League, besides smuggling books and other related literature to imprisoned nationalists at prisons such as Sikhombela and Gonakudzingwa.
He said even after the assassination of her husband by the settler regime in 1975, Cde Chitepo remained committed to the cause of the liberation struggle, which also saw her being appointed to various Government positions after Independence. On Cde Mwashita, President Mugabe hailed her for going to the liberation struggle at a young age and contributing significantly to the country’s independence.
“Like many of her peers, some of whom are ministers of Government today, Vivian responded positively to the clarion call by our respective political parties, Zapu and Zanu then, to cross the border into neighbouring countries and joined the ranks of our young men and women, who were prepared to take up arms and wage a protracted war of liberation to end white settler colonialism.
“She crossed into Mozambique and joined the liberation struggle under the auspices of the Zimbabwe National Liberation Army (Zanla) in 1975. We are reliably told that she went there in the company of comrades Oppah Muchinguri-Kashiri, Winnie Newanji, Erina Mukudu-Nyamweda, Susan Muchinguri and the late Tokodo Murinda,” said President Mugabe.
He said Cde Mwashita, whose Chimurenga name was Cde Kundai Mabhunu also survived the bombings at Nyadzonia (1976) and Chimoio (1977) by the Rhodesian forces. President Mugabe said Zimbabwe had the highest number of comrades who were killed by the settler regime in the whole of Southern Africa.
He said former Rhodesian Prime Minister Ian Smith committed the worst atrocities as his forces indiscriminately bombed military and refugee camps in the process, killing hundreds of people including civilians. herald