Zimbabwe: Govt Recognises Zanu Founding Leader Sithole, Declares Him National Hero 22 Years After His Death

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PRESIDENT Emmerson Mnangagwa has conferred the late ZANU founding leader Ndabaningi Chandiwana Sithole with national hero status over two decades after his death.

Sithole, an African nationalist was honoured at a ceremony in Mt Selinda, Chipinge on Saturday where his remains are interred.

Mnangagwa did not attend the event and was represented by Defence minister and Zanu PF chairperson Oppah Muchinguri-Kashiri.

“On 12 December 2000, the founding President of ZANU, our revolutionary luminary and leader passed on at a hospital in the United States of America, the Reverend Ndabaningi Sithole.

“A son of the soil had fallen. Under my leadership, the New Dispensation is on a mission and path towards restoring our country’s historical legacy. In line with this mission, my administration decided to confer national hero status to one of our early nationalists and liberation icons, Musharukwa, Dhodha reKanyi, the Late Reverend Ndabaningi Chandiwana Sithole.

“The event resonates well with the mantra of the Second Republic: Noone and no place will be left behind. The Reverend Sithole was not only a son of Chipinge, but also a son of Zimbabwe, and a son of Africa. Tinobonga yamho!,” he said in a speech read on his behalf.

He added, “Today we pay tribute to our national hero and son of Africa. Reverend, father, teacher and freedom fighter, the late Cde Reverend Ndabaningi Chandiwana Sithole.

“No community, ethnic group or race must dictate or put itself before any or all. Riding on the spirit of unity, the new dispensation has initiated a process of celebrating our revolutionary icons and heroes”.

The former president Robert Mugabe and Sithole clashed on several issues and the latter was denied national hero status upon his death.

Mnangagwa encouraged citizens to recognise revolutionary ethos championed by the country’s founding fathers saying: “We have the responsibility and burden to leave a legacy of a united and vibrant society.

“We the people of Zimbabwe are desirous to preserve and consolidate national independence for posterity, to build a united, progressive, permanent political and social architecture. We are more than convinced that political stability, tranquility, order, social cohesion and development can only be attained under conditions of maintaining national unity and harmony.”

After Sithole’s release from prison in 1974 in the Détente era, he participated in the Unity Talks in December 1974, in Lusaka Zambia which yielded the umbrella African National Council which was led by Bishop Muzorewa.

In the wake of Herbert Chitepo’s death in 1975, the Party entered a period of uncertainty and contradictions.

As a result of these contradictions, Rev Sithole differed with some of his peers resulting in his removal from the leadership of the mainstream ZANU, following the Mgagau Declaration.

As leader of a reorganized ZANU, Sithole participated in the elections of 1980 which ushered in independence and lost to opponent Mugabe.

In 1983, he lived in self-imposed exile in the United States before returning to Zimbabwe participating in opposition politics under Zanu Ndonga and in 1995 won a seat in Parliament.

At the time of his death in 2000, he was survived by his second wife, Vesta (now late) and six children.

“Despite his differences with his colleagues in the later stages of the liberation struggle, Sithole remains a great enigma and a true son of the soil,” concluded Mnangagwa.