SENATOR Watson Khupe was buried in Bulawayo last Friday after being granted a State-assisted burial in recognition of his contribution in fighting for the rights of people with disabilities (PWDs).
The senator, who was 59, died at Mater Dei Hospital in the city the previous week on Saturday after battling muscular dystrophy, which resulted in him struggling to breathe.
He was buried at Lady Stanley Cemetery which is reserved for the city’s luminaries.
A moving burial service was held at his Thorngrove suburb home where scores of people narrated how he touched so many lives.
Bulawayo Provincial Affairs and Devolution Minister Judith Ncube said Sen Khupe left an indelible mark in terms of fighting for the rights of PWDs.
“This is an honour in recognition of the works that Khupe did for PWDs.
He was leading a very important movement of PWDs and we need to appreciate his leadership.
He had worked towards the inclusion of PWDs in economic productivity.
While in the past, we used to see PWDs as beggars but through the leadership of people like Khupe most of them are standing, able to work for themselves.
Others are vending while others are involved in all sorts of things to better themselves,” said Minister Ncube.
She said Sen Khupe emphasised the need for PWDs to see themselves as equals with the able-bodied despite their challenges.
His widow Mrs Takla Khupe narrated how Sen Khupe’s last days were painful for the family.
She said Sen Khupe would wake up at 6AM and sit in the car as it was the only place which was comfortable for him.
“He was a caring father and husband who always planned for his family.
Before his health further deteriorated, he extended this house by adding two rooms.
So, he was admitted before the renovations were completed and he would constantly ask whether the painters were done.
When the painters completed the work, it was at about 3PM, he paid them and at 6PM he passed on,” said Mrs Khupe.
National Disability Board vice-chairperson Edward Munhanga said PWDs are under -represented as they only have two elected individuals to stand for them.
He said PWDs are estimated to be at least 3 million yet they have only two senators representing them.
“We are not adequately represented considering our numbers.
We want representation in both the National Assembly and Senate.
At least if we have four representations in National Assembly and four in Senate.
But the ideal situation is that we have a representative per province,” he said.
Senator Chief Ngungumbane said authorities should consider including representatives of PWDs even at council levels.
Bulawayo Ward 7 councillor Mr Edwin Ndlovu said the council’s resolution to bury him at Lady Stanley shows that he was a giant and hero in the city.