Dark cloud hovers over Zimbabwe as 2 national heroes die

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PRESIDENT MNANGAGWA will tomorrow lead the nation in commemorating Heroes Day, which will be preceded by the burial of two national heroes — Ambassador Johannes Tomana and Brigadier-General Milton Siziba (Retired) — at the National Heroes Acre.

Thousands of Zimbabweans are expected to converge on the national shrine to witness the historic double burial and celebration of the annual national holiday, which is set aside to honour the country’s heroes and heroines.

Tomorrow’s programme will begin with the burial of Amb Tomana and Brig-Gen Siziba (Rtd) before proceedings turn to the main Heroes Day commemorations. Most of the logistics for tomorrow’s programme are already in place.

This year’s commemorations will be held under the theme “Remembering our heroes — Nyika inovakwa nevene vayo/ Ilizwe lakhiwa ngabanikazi balo”.

Ministry of Home Affairs and Cultural Heritage spokesperson Mr Philemon Chiripanyanga told our Harare Bureau yesterday that preparations are now at an advanced stage.

“The programme will start with the twin burial of the national heroes, with the main celebrations set to be held afterwards. Invitations to the commemorations have been sent out to all 196 families of national heroes and heroines interred at the shrine, and logistics to ferry them there are now in place.”

During the event, President Mnangagwa will confer honours and awards to three citizens and one organisation — Dr Sikhulile Moyo, Ambassador Mary Mubi, Dr Agnes Mahomva and the Angel Hope Foundation — for their selfless service to the nation. A Heroes Day gala will also be held at Vengere Stadium in Rusape, Mashonaland East province, with 23 artistes set to perform.

Ministry of Local Government and Public Works spokesperson Mr Gabriel Masvora said Government had invited all relevant stakeholders to the programme. Transport for the multitudes expected to attend is presently being finalised.

“This is a national event and invitations have been sent to all political parties, and anyone who wants to attend the celebrations is welcome to do so.

All transport logistics are in place for both the Heroes Day and Defence Forces Day celebrations. In terms of transport, Harare Metropolitan province will get 50 buses for the Heroes Day celebrations, while 100 buses will be dispatched for the Defence Forces Day on Tuesday.

Bulawayo Metropolitan province will have 15 buses for the Heroes Day celebrations and 15 buses for the Defence Forces Day. The rest of the provinces will have five buses each for the two events.”

Defence Forces Day, whose main celebrations will be at the National Sports Stadium, will be running under the theme “Brick by Brick, Stone Upon Stone — Zimbabwe Defence Forces: Creating a Conducive Environment for the Attainment of Vision 2030”.

Amb Tomana passed away on Sunday last week after complaining of stomach pains while visiting his rural home in Honde Valley. Brig-Gen Siziba (Rtd) succumbed to shortness of breath at his home in Northville, Bulawayo, on August 1.

A memorial service was held in honour of Amb Tomana yesterday at St Mathias Tsonzo High School, Mutasa district, where speakers described him as a humble and selfless man. Amb Tomana’s body was flown to his home district from Harare, accompanied by his wife Daphine and close relatives.

Manicaland Minister of Provincial Affairs and Devolution Ms Nokuthula Matsikenyere described the national hero as a patriot.

“He was one person who loved his country and stood firm for what he believed was right for his country. Despite being a learned man, he chose not to follow the path taken by some academics who see no good in defending the legacy of the liberation struggle. Ambassador Tomana was actively involved in contesting the illegal sanctions imposed on the country by the West; he did all this because of his love for his country.”

Amb Tomana was a devoted Christian, who grew up in the Anglican Church, before later joining the Johane Marange Apostolic Church. Speaking during yesterday’s service, Anglican Church Bishop Reverend Eric Ruwona, a personal friend of the national hero, described Amb Tomana as a humble man.

“I am here not only as a church bishop but also as a friend of the late Tomana and his family. I presided over his wedding to his wife Daphine as the marriage officer. We went on to have a strong relationship.

He is one person we used to depend on during our time together in Harare. The parish I was leading ended up appearing like a legal clinic because Amb Tomana assisted a lot of people from there, especially the underprivileged who had lost their properties to greedy relatives.”

Amb Tomana was born on September 9, 1967. He was a lawyer by training. In 2005, he was appointed one of the commissioners of the Zimbabwe Anti-Corruption Commission. In 2008, he was appointed Attorney-General, where he performed the dual role of leading the prosecution department and acting as Government’s legal adviser.

The AG’s Office was later split into two under the 2013 Constitution, with Amb Tomana assuming the role of Prosecutor-General. In 2010, his role in Government saw him being sanctioned by the United States.

He was later appointed into the diplomatic service in September 2020, when he assumed the post of Zimbabwe’s Ambassador to the Democratic Republic of Congo, a post he held until his untimely death.

Meanwhile, a funeral parade was held in honour of Brig-Gen Siziba (Rtd) at the Zimbabwe Prisons and Correctional Service (ZPCS) Ntabazinduna Training Depot, Matabeleland North. ZPCS Commissioner-General Moses Chihobvu led the ceremony.

Brig-Gen Siziba (Rtd) was born on November 14, 1951 in Matobo district, Matabeleland South. He received military training at Khatima Barrack in Zambia and was later deployed to Maheba, where he was tasked with the formation of regular battalions. He also worked as a detachment commander and chief of personnel in the Zipra forces.

After independence, he was deployed to the Entumbane Assembly Point, before he was attested into the Zimbabwe National Army (ZNA) on 31 January 1981. He served in the ZNA and the ZPCS before he was appointed commissioner of the Zimbabwe Defence Forces Commission.

Deputy Commissioner General Siziba has been described as a humble, soft spoken and dedicated leader with a combination of loyalty, patriotism and a selflessness who believed in hardworking towards set goals.

The befitting sentiments were echoed by chief mourner ZPCS Commissioner General Moses Chihobvu at a funeral parade. The parade was an occasion of immense poignancy coupled with an atmosphere of celebrating his achievements as his casket, proudly swathed in the national flag and mounted on a trolley, was gently pushed by pallbearers into the parade square.

Comm Gen Chihobvu then led the laying of wreaths before delivering the obituary of the late national hero whom he descried as a hard worker.

“It is not a secret that Deputy Commissioner Siziba fought a good fight and completed his race. As we pay our very last homage let us not forget who this man was.

“Deputy Commissioner Siziba was a humble, soft spoken, dedicated leader with a combination of loyalty, patriotism and a selfless character who believed in hardworking towards set goals.

“Some of us who worked under his command both in the Zimbabwe National Amy and Zimbabwe Prisons and Correctional Service can testify that he was a determined and hardworking commander who executed his duties with diligence,” he said.


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