THE death of Lieutenant General Edzai Absalom Chanyuka Chimonyo who succumbed to cancer yesterday morning was a devastating blow to the country as he inspired the nation with his dedication to duty, President Mnangagwa has said.
Lt Gen Chimonyo, who was 68, died at the Avenues Clinic yesterday morning.
He was not only an accomplished General but also a polished diplomat whose service to the nation will be missed, the President said.
His nom de guerre during the liberation struggle, which he joined in 1975, was Edzai Mabhunu.
In his condolence message, the President said the veteran freedom fighter who briefly exchanged his military fatigues for diplomatic etiquette was among the rare breed of freedom fighters whose contribution to the independence of Zimbabwe will forever be etched in the nation’s collective memory.
“The death this morning of our Commander of the Zimbabwe National Army, Lieutenant-General Edzai Absalom Chanyuka Chimonyo, after a long battle with cancer, is a devastating blow to our nation.
“A veteran freedom fighter, commander and diplomat, Major General Chimonyo was a decorated career soldier who was moulded in the heat of our protracted liberation struggle, which he joined from school to become a veteran freedom fighter from a tender age.
“After absconding from the then Rhodesia, Lieutenant-General Chimonyo would train in the art of war in our bases both in Mozambique and Tanzania where he stood out as a tough and brave freedom fighter, and later as a key instructor. During the struggle, he was instrumental in opening many war fronts in the then Rhodesia, thus ensuring the embattled Ian Smith Regime suffered countless reverses which would eventually soften it for talks that yielded our independence in 1980,” the President said.
And after contributing to the country’s independence, Lt Gen Chimonyo attested into the newly integrated national army which combined former warring parties into one national force.
“In that capacity, he played a pivotal role in ensuring the success of the delicate integration process which united the hitherto warring armies of Rhodesia and our Patriotic Front Forces. Thereafter, he assumed several command positions in the Army, each time steadily rising up the rungs until he attained generalship,” the President said.
As a commander in various postings, Lt Gen Chimonyo led units of the ZNA to countries like Mozambique, Somalia, and the Democratic Republic of Congo.
“The numerous staff courses he successfully attended here and abroad made him an astute commander and very competent administrator of military affairs.
“General Chimonyo would take a break from his military career to temporarily join the then Ministry of Foreign Affairs as our Ambassador to the United Republic of Tanzania, itself a key rear-base during our liberation struggle.
“This posting reflected on his importance as a key and trusted cadre we could rely upon to discharge crucial and sensitive missions on behalf of our Government,” the President said.
With his impeccable resume, the President, who is also the Commander In Chief of the Zimbabwe Defence Forces, said he needed no persuasion to appoint Lt General Chimonyo as the Commander of the ZNA when he assumed the reins in 2017.
“With the advent of the Second Republic, I, without any hesitation, raised him to the position of Commander of the Zimbabwe National Army, an appointment and trust which he vindicated through absolute loyalty and dedicated commitment to duty and to his country. In him, we have lost a rare cadre, freedom fighter, an exceptional commander and prized son of the nation who inspired our men and women in uniform. He will be sorely missed.
“On behalf of the party, ZANU PF, Government, and as Commander-in-Chief of the Zimbabwe Defence Forces, I wish to express my deepest, heartfelt condolences to the Chimonyo Family, and to his children especially who have lost a loving father and mentor. My heart also goes out to all the officers, men and women he commanded who today grieve at his passing on. General Chimonyo will live in our hearts, and in the hearts of all those comrades he shared the trenches with, both before and after our independence,” said the President.