NORTON legislator Temba Mliswa is leading the call for President Emmerson Mnangagwa to accord legendary Zimbabwean music superstar Oliver “Tuku” Mtukudzi, who died on Wednesday, national hero status.
Mliswa revealed that he has already written to President Mnangagwa to request that the world-famous musician be buried at the national shrine.
Tuku, 66, had been suffering from diabetes for a long time.
Tuku failed to attend the ZBC Coca-Cola winners’ prizegiving ceremony held at a hotel in Harare due to ill health on Tuesday.
He reportedly died on Wednesday afternoon at Avenues Clinic in Harare where he was being treated.
Efforts to obtain comment from his wife Daisy and daughter Selmor were fruitless as they did not take calls or respond to messages.
However, politicians, musicians and fans were already sending condolence messages on social media.
MDC-T Vice President Obert Gutu said: “It’s absolutely devastating and extremely sad! An icon has fallen! This is not only a loss to the Mtukudzi family, it also a loss to Zimbabwe, to Africa and indeed, to the whole of humanity.
“Through his music, Tuku touched millions of hearts around the globe. He was an immensely talented composer, with a husky and inimitable voice.
“He sang about love, about social justice and about the trials and tribulations of human existence. Tuku is a national hero. Anyway, heroes don’t die! Legends don’t die! They simply go home to rest! Rest in Power, Samanyanga!”
Former education and sports minister David Coltart wrote on Twitter: “Rest in peace Oliver Mtukudzi. If anyone ever made me proud to be Zimbabwean, it was you. Thank you for making us happy for so long, especially during the darkest days.”
The news of Tuku’s death comes after he lost his son Sam – a successful musician in his own right – in a car accident in March 2010.
Tuku was born into a family of six. One of his sisters and his only brother are also deceased.
Member of parliament for Norton constituency Temba Mliswa confirmed the untimely departure of the music great.
Mliswa said he would petition President Emmerson Mnanagwa to accord national hero status to Mtukudzi.
“I have it on good authority that Dr Oliver Mtukudzi is no more. We’ve lost an icon and my heartfelt condolences to Daisy and family. I’m writing to the president to apply for National Hero status for his contribution to the music, arts and culture industry,” he said.
Scores of fellow artists said the music industry had been robbed.
Former prominent disc jockey Eric Knight said: “I’m devastated to let you know that the Mountain has fallen.”
Tuku boasted a string of hit albums such as Bvuma (Tolerance), Vhunze Moto, Tsivo (Revenge), Dairai (Believe) among others.
His notable hit songs included Neria, Svoyi Yangu (My Love), Patapata, Izere Mhepo (Full of Bad Omen), Perekedza Mwana (Escort the Girl), Tozeza Baba (Afraid of an Abusive Father) among others.
Apart from being a musician, Tuku was a businessman, philanthropist, human rights activist and UNICEF goodwill ambassador for southern Africa.
He is considered to be Zimbabwe’s most renowned and internationally recognised cultural icon.