PRESIDENT Mnangagwa has mourned the death of Retired (Rtd) Major General Sydney Bhebhe saying it is saddening that Zimbabwe is losing revolutionary cadres who joined the Second Chimurenga/Umvukela.
Major General Bhebhe (Rtd) (61) died at the Avenues Clinic on Monday evening. His death comes hard on the heels of the death of Major General (Rtd) Godfrey Chanakira who died on May 26 and Major General (Rtd) Sikhulile Simpson Nyathi who died on June 5 and was buried on Monday.
President Mnangagwa said he was greatly saddened and pained by the passing on of Major General (Rtd) Bhebhe who he described as another distinguished war veteran and senior officer.
“The demise of the late Major General Bhebhe casts yet again a dark shadow over our Nation which is still grieving the losses in succession of two National Heroes, the late Major Generals (Rtd) Godfrey Chanakira and Sikhulile Nyathi, in the space of two weeks. Our Nation is fast losing members from a generation of revolutionary cadres who joined the Armed Liberation Struggle of our Second Chimurenga in the 70s. Zimbabwe is all the poorer as these cadres formed the bedrock of our revolutionary ethos now and in the future,” said the President.
He said Major General Bhebhe left a legacy of heroism and humility that helped birth Zimbabwe as a nation.
“The late Major General who was diabetic, bequeathed to us a legacy of heroism tempered with humility, honesty and loyalty, attributes put to the advancement of the Liberation Struggle and to our Nation, Zimbabwe,” he said.
President Mnangagwa sent his condolence to the Bhebhe family for their loss.
“On behalf of Zanu-PF, Government, the Zimbabwe Defence Forces and indeed on my behalf, I wish to express my heartfelt condolences to the Bhebhe family, especially to his wife Sarah and the children, who have lost a loving husband, father and mentor. As they grieve the loss of their dearly departed, may they be comforted by the knowledge that the whole nation joins them in mourning the loss of one who was no longer theirs alone but a national figure,” said the President.
The Commander National Army (ZNA) Lieutenant General David Sigauke announced Major General (Rtd) Bhebhe’s untimely death in a statement yesterday.
Retired Brigadier-General Levi Mayihlome said they crossed paths several times with the late Maj Gen (Rtd) Bhebhe. He said he possessed good leadership and team building skills and always paid attention to duty.
He also described the late Maj Gen (Rtd) Bhebhe as a humble and simple man who maintained good relations with other people.
“I first met the late Maj Gen (Rtd) Sydney Bhebhe in 1977 in Zambia when we joined ZIPRA. We went our separate ways for military training and subsequent assignment and then we met again in 1981 soon after being integrated into the Zimbabwe National Army. He was an ever-jovial man and friendly to all those he interacted with,” he said.
Rtd Brig-Gen Mayihlome added: “As a military officer in the ZNA I knew the late Major General Bhebhe as an inborn administrator. He loved administration duties and he was good at it. I worked closely with him at army headquarters with several other middle ranking field officers, most of whom later became Generals.”
Former Zipra Chief of military intelligence Retired Brigadier General Abel Mazinyane said he met the late Maj Gen (Rtd) Bhebhe during his visit to the Boma Training Camp in Angola where the late Major General was training with other comrades.
He said he later met him after independence when the comrades had returned home. Rtd Brig-Gen Mazinyane said he recalls having a conversation about the need to have the graves of fellow comrades that died in Angola marked.
He said the late Maj-Gen (Rtd) Bhebhe continued serving his country for 42 years after independence which was a clear indication of his dedication.
“The late Major General Bhebhe was junior to me but I saw him as he trained during my visits to the Boma Training Camp in Angola. After he completed his training he was appointed an instructor. I recall we were discussing the need to have the mass graves in Angola marked as part of efforts to recognise and value our comrades who died in the struggle,” he said.
Rtd Brig-Gen Mazinyane added: “Maj-Gen Bhebhe valued the revolutionary gains. His death is a huge loss to the country. I hope the youths have learnt something from him as he is someone to emulate. 42 years after independence, he was still serving the country.”
The late Maj Gen (Rtd) Bhebhe was born on December 30, 1960 at Masase Mission Hospital in Mberengwa District, Midlands Province.
He did his primary education at various schools in Mberengwa and Harare from 1967 to 1973. He then proceeded for his secondary education at Masase Secondary School in Mberengwa from 1974 to 1977.
He joined the liberation struggle under the Zimbabwe African People’s Revolutionary Army (ZIPRA) after crossing the border into Zambia via Botswana in April 1977.
The late freedom fighter received military training at Boma Training Camp in Angola in 1977. After completing basic training in March 1978, he was selected to be an instructor and underwent further military training in semi-conventional and conventional warfare at the same camp.
At Independence, the late Maj Gen (Rtd)Bhebhe was attested into the Zimbabwe National Army on April 1, 1981.
He rose through the ranks to Major General in 2021 and retired the same year.
He is survived by his wife Sarah and three children.
Funeral arrangements will be announced in due course. Mourners are gathered at number 15 Cranborne West Married Quarters, Hatfield in Harare.