All is set for an historic burial of national heroines, Comrades Victoria Fikile Chitepo (88) and Vivian Mwashita (58), who both died in Harare last Friday, with Government providing 48 buses to ferry mourners from their respective provinces to the National Heroes Acre to accord the two a befitting send off. According to a provisional burial programme, the bodies of the heroines are expected to leave Mt Pleasant and New Cranborne respectively at 7:30am for viewing at Stodart Hall in Mbare, while burial is expected to take place around midday.
Harare Provincial Administrator Mr Alfred Tome said the two heroines deserved a befitting send off as they remained resolute to the ideology of the party during and after the liberation struggle. “Thousands of people, be it women, children and war veterans are expected to come tomorrow (today) to bid farewell to the two heroines who dedicated their lives to the struggle.
“People should come in their numbers to their usual pick up points as 30 buses have been provided in Harare to transport people, 10 in Manicaland and one bus from each of the remaining provinces.
“All the proceedings are expected to commence at 9am at Stodart Hall where a simultaneous body viewing will be conducted before the bodies are carried to the National Heroes Acre and we expect all people to be seated by 10:30am.”
Mr Tome said the day was significant as the two heroines’ sacrifices and contributions in liberating Zimbabwe would be celebrated.
“It is a clear significance that Cde Mwashita and Cde Chitepo contributed immensely to the independence and sovereignty of this country as their words translated into action. “They remained patriotic and contributed immensely to land reform and education for all principal.”
Yesterday, memorial services for Cdes Chitepo and Mwashita were held at Anglican Diocese of Harare of the Church of the Province of Central Africa (CPCA) and Salvation Army Braeside Citadel respectively. Cde Chitepo was described as a humble, dedicated and irreplaceable mother figure.
Speaking at a special mass led by bishop Chad Gandiya, Retired bishop Peter Hatendi said Cde Chitepo was a national heroine of a special class and an outstanding politician. “She was a woman admired by her rare achievements and service to both the church and the country,” said Bishop Hatendi.
He said Cde Chitepo soldiered alone as a widow in a strange land among strange people, but remained committed to the work for God and Zimbabwe. Bishop Hatendi said Zimbabweans were challenged by her exemplary life, which was characterised by dedication, resilience, sacrifice and success.
“Zimbabweans are challenged by her example. They must repent and love one another. We need total independence, resilience and sacrifice for the success of this land we call Zimbabwe,” he said.
Bishop Gandiya described Cde Chitepo as a remarkable woman of faith and humility, adding she would attend the commemorations at Bernard Mizeki shrine in Marondera despite her social standing.
He said the decision by Government to accord her national heroine status came not as a surprise to the church as she was also a heroine of faith. “She was also our hero, a hero of faith, a woman of great humility. She would not miss the Bernard Mizeki celebrations in Marondera,” he said.
Bishop Gandiya said before her death, they had discussed about projects she wanted to pursue at St Augustines Mission in Penhalonga. Friends and family members also took time after the mass to describe how kind Cde Chitepo was.
Manicaland Provincial Affairs Minister Cde Mandi Chimene, said no one could replace Cde Chitepo who was also a Zanu-PF Central Committee member. Cde Chimeme said as some people scrambled for positions in the party, Cde Chitepo maintained her composure and humility.
“I am too young to talk about Cde Chitepo but she was really a mother figure and she cannot be replaced,” said Minister Chimene. “Because of all the sacrifices and all the sufferings she went through because of her husband’s role in the struggle, someone would expect her to walk very tall and demanding for positions, but she never did that,” said Minister Chimene.
Her daughter Dr Thokozile Chitepo, said the challenge now was for the family to sustain the legacy left behind by her mother and father, Cde Herbert Chitepo. She said Cde Chitepo had a passion for young people, women empowerment and education.
She said at the time of her death she was working on a number of projects for the youths through the Herbert Chitepo Trust and Herbert Chitepo Sports Tournament among others.
“She loved projects and creating opportunities for women and young people. We will miss her, particularly the efforts she made in creating peace and unity in the family. As a family we are left with a big challenge to sustain her legacy as well as that of Baba Herbert Chitepo,” she said.
Cde Chitepo was found dead at her Mt Pleasant home last Friday. Meanwhile, Cde Mwashita whose Chimurenga name was Kundai Mabhunu, was described as a God fearing, dedicated, courageous and strong woman who contributed immensely towards the liberation of Zimbabwe.
Hundreds of people thronged the Salvation Army Braeside Citadel to celebrate her life and contributions to the nation, her family and the church.
Senior Government officials including Minister of State for Harare, Cde Miriam Chikukwa, Defence Minister Cde Sydney Sekeramayi, War veterans Minister Cde Tshinga Dube, Members of Parliament, senior Zanu-PF officials, war veterans, collaborators and church members attended the service.
The body of Cde Mwashita arrived at the church at 2 pm escorted by the Salvation Army members and led by the church’s military band. The church members clad in their uniforms marched alongside the hearse singing different church hymns until they got into the church. Speaker after speaker glowingly spoke about the role Cde Mwashita played during and after the liberation struggle.
To her sisters she played the role of mother and father and guardian while her in laws described her as a blessing. Her daughters described her as a teacher while her revolutionary friends described her as a brave woman who fought to help people in need until her last breath.
Cde Chikukwa said Cde Mwashita fought for the liberation of Zimbabwe and later became a soldier in ministering God. “Only people who are consistent are buried at the National Heroes Acre. One has to be strong and unwavering to get such a status. Vivian endured the pain she faced and kept on going until the day of her departure. She fought a good fight and awaits her crown from the Creator,” she said.
Mutasa South National Assembly member, Cde Irene Zindi, said Cde Mwashita was determined in helping other people until her death. “Mwashita was very strong until her death. Instead of concentrating on her health she continued to consider the affairs of the less privileged. She is the one who identified Harare South area for a housing project to assist relieve the problem of accommodation.
“Sometimes I would encourage her to concentrate on her health but she continued looking for solutions to challenges being faced by people. She wanted to set up a school and clinic for the people in Harare South and a welfare organisation to cater for the child headed families,” she said.
She was one of the founding members of the Zimbabwe National Liberation War Veterans Association. Cde Mwashita’s sister said the family was happy with the respect accorded to their sister. “We feel encouraged that Government has also appreciated her role in the liberation struggle. Members of our family went to war and some did not come back.
“Vivian was very strong and had her country at heart. She fought for the liberation struggle and the party after independence,” she said. Former legislator, Mrs Margaret Dongo — with whom Cde Mwashita battled for Harare South constituency — said she lost a very close friend and a a sister. “We were very close. I knew Cde Mwashita from long back. We came from the same area and we went to war together.
“We were very close during the liberation struggle and after independence. We had a strong bond. I was Vivian and she was Margaret. We were inseparable and I have lost a very close friend. She would take responsibility of my children and I would also assign her to take my children to school when busy. We went to war together and were together during the struggle.”
Cde Mwashita is survived by husband Mr Peter Muchicho, three children, Chamunorwa, Nyasha and Memory and six grandchildren. herald