- Published on 02 June 2014
- Written by dailynews
Liberation war commander Wilfred Mhanda was buried yesterday with vital body organs missing, family members said.
Family and friends gave grim finality to the fallen war hero, whose nom de guerre was Dzinashe Machingura, as he was laid to rest at Glen Forest Cemetery.
Taona Mhanda, brother to the deceased, said they only discovered that his body parts were missing when he was taken to a funeral parlour.
Mhanda died of colon cancer on Thursday at the State-run Parirenyatwa Hospital. Mhanda's liver, kidney and his intestines were missing, according to his family.
"They (hospital officials) are saying that they took the parts for examination, but we did not expect them to take the whole liver and kidney, we only discovered that the parts were taken at the funeral home. The doctor had said they were taking mere samples but not the whole parts. We are going to see the pathologist on Monday for an explanation," the young brother said.
As the sun sank on Saturday, Mhanda's former comrades-in-arms gave glowing tributes to the laid back veteran, who during the protracted liberation war rose through the ranks from private, military instructor, political commissar, commander of the Mgagao Camp in Tanzania and then ultimately a member of the powerful High Command.
Raising clenched fists and speaking with crackling voices, war veterans who served alongside the late Mhanda — drawn mostly from the so-called Vashandi rebellion — sang a funeral dirge that left many at the funeral close to tears.
Happyson Muchechetere, who was one of the pallbearers, described the late Mhanda as a "brilliant person", while Bernard Chipoyera said revisionists must not rewrite the fallen comrade's history.
Angry veterans lambasted "opportunists" they said were now occupying high office.
"We made a historical mistake when we wrote in the Mgagao document that Robert Mugabe is our only nationalist leader. We should have said him and others," said Chipoyera, a forgotten war commander.
With many veterans living in squalor, the ex-guerrillas yesterday laid bare the reason why they went to war.
"We did not go to war to be rich, we went to the war to free the masses. Everyone participated in the war and not just a few. But then they took the land from the whites in order to get rich. Why do you beat people to vote for you? I need an answer why my general Rex Nhongo (Solomon Mujuru) was killed like a cobra and yet nothing was done and yet when a police inspector was killed, 29 people were arrested," said war veteran Freedom Nyamubaya.
While Zanu PF top brass was conspicuously absent from the burial, heavyweights in the opposition thronged the funeral.
Tendai Biti, Nelson Chamisa, Elton Mangoma, Lovemore Madhuku, Sekai Holland and former Harare mayor Muchadeyi Masunda all converged for the burial of the war commander who had turned a staunch critic of the ruling Zanu PF.
Aldo Dell' Ariccia, the European Union Ambassador, was also among the mourners, who included former Attorney General Sobusa Gula-Ndebele.
Dumiso Dabengwa, leader of the opposition Zapu, described Machingura as having engraved himself in the country's history, while opposition MDC president Morgan Tsvangirai said in a statement Mhanda was "an undisputed hero of the struggle".
As one the architects and signatories of the 1976 Mgagao Declaration, which spearheaded the resumption of the liberation struggle after a truce ushered in by the 1975 Lusaka Declaration, many agree he is a genuine hero.
His war exploits, as he narrates them in his memoir, Dzino - Memories of Freedom Fighter, placed him second-in-command to the late war commander Mujuru whose remains were found at his Beatrice farmhouse on August 16 in 2011 after a fire.
In his book, Machingura casts President Robert Mugabe as an opportunist who rose to power through the backdoor.
Mhanda said in his book, commanders during the war made the mistake of convincing Samora Machel that Mugabe be regarded as their leader and yet he had not been properly nominated at a congress to lead Zanu.
He stalked controversy in 2011 by saying Justice minister Emmerson Mnangagwa did not play a prominent role in the liberation struggle as he was merely Mugabe's personal bodyguard and secretary.
Thus yesterday, he was buried without notice from his former party Zanu PF.