Sunday Mail Reporters
PRESIDENT Mnangagwa yesterday conferred national hero status on the late Manicaland Provincial Affairs and Devolution Minister Dr Ellen Gwaradzimba (60) and founding nationalist and Zanu PF Central Committee member Cde Morton Dizzy Paul Malianga (91) who both died on Friday.
Dr Gwaradzimba succumbed to Covid-19 while Cde Malianga had been unwell for some time.
Zanu PF National Chairperson, who is also Defence and War Veterans Affairs Minister, Oppah Muchinguri-Kashiri, delivered the President’s message to the Gwaradzimba and Malianga families at their respective Highlands and Greystone Park homes in Harare yesterday.
Minister Muchinguri-Kashiri said the two national heroes would be buried at the National Heroes Acre on a date to be advised.
She said the President and the party saw it befitting to honour the late comrades as national heroes for the contributions they made to liberate the country.
The Ministries of Home Affairs and Cultural Heritage and Health and Child Care had started working on the modalities and logistics on how the burial of the two will be conducted.
Speaking at the late Cde Malianga’s home, Minister Muchinguri-Kashiri described the late cadre as a towering figure who pioneered nationalist politics in the 1950s.
Cde Malianga was founding president of the National Democratic Party at its formation in 1959. After the NDP was banned in December 1961, he became Zapu Secretary for Public Affairs in 1961.
“He was an exemplary nationalist leader who pioneered the struggle for our national independence. We will always reminisce on his unwavering commitment to the self-determination of the black majority.”
In his speech to mourners, Mr Nyaradzai Mutondo, nephew to Cde Malianga, thanked the Zanu PF leadership for recognising the journey that was walked by his uncle.
Cde Malianga leaves behind wife, Effie Malianga and two sons Paidamoyo and Waraidzo.
Turning to Dr Gwaradzimba, Minister Muchinguri-Kashiri said the late illustrious daughter of the soil was a champion of development in Manicaland.
“She was a freedom fighter and long-time educationist and passionate advocate for development, who will be remembered for her role in wartime educational programmes with a number of leading cadres who developed learning materials for refugees in camps,” she said.
Family representative Mr Afaras Mtausi Gwaradzimba thanked the President and party for honouring Dr Gwaradzimba.
“We want to thank the party and the President for honouring Dr Gwaradzimba in such a way and for recognising her contributions to the party and country at large,” he said.
In a condolence message, the Ministry of Defence and War Veterans Affairs paid tribute to Dr Gwaradzimba.
The Ministry said the late Dr Gwaradzimba, whose Chimurenga name was Cde Shee Tapera, joined the liberation struggle in 1976.
She underwent military training in Tanzania at Nachigwea Military Academy in 1977 and was deployed and operated in the Gaza province that covered the South and South-Eastern regions of the country between 1977 and 1978 where she rose to detachment command level in the Provincial Command structure.
After independence, Dr Gwaradzimba rose through the party ranks to be a member of the Zanu PF Central Committee and Provincial Chairperson of Manicaland province Women’s League. In 2018, she was elected Senator for Manicaland province covering Mutare Central and North, Mutasa South and Dangamvura-Chikanga constituencies.
Dr Gwaradzimba was appointed Manicaland Provincial Affairs and Devolution Minister in 2018, a post she held until her untimely death.
In her illustrious professional career, she sat on several corporate boards, among them the Forestry Commission of Zimbabwe, University of Zimbabwe Council, Grain Marketing Board, Zimbabwe Indigenisation and Economic Empowerment Board and Zimpapers Board among others. She is survived by three sons.
Zanu PF Women’s League Secretary Cde Mable Chinomona said Dr Gwaradzimba’s “sudden death has left us in great shock and pain as the void left is not easily replaceable.”
“Dr Gwaradzimba was instrumental in pushing for and defending the Party position on Women and Youth at all stages of the Constitution-making process by representing the Party in COPAC. Today the country has a Women’s Quota reserved for Women in the National Assembly since 2013 in pursuit of the 50/50 gender equality goal across sectors and most importantly in Leadership.
“As Manicaland Provincial Affairs and Devolution Minister, she spearheaded various development programmes that have emancipated many people in the province especially during the trying times of Cyclone Idai wherein her astute leadership qualities demonstrated amazing levels of patriotism, selflessness and love for her country and others ahead of herself.
“The country has lost a mother, leader and above all a dedicated comrade who shall be dearly missed among us. We pray for God’s strength and comfort to her family, colleagues and all who knew and worked with her.”
Born on June 8, 1930, the late Cde Malianga hailed from a politically active family.
From 1959 when he joined the Southern African National Congress after completing his studies in South Africa, Cde Malianga would successively be involved in the founding of the National Democratic Party, NDP, the Zimbabwe African People’s Union (Zapu) and the Zimbabwe African National Union (Zanu), all the time assuming top leadership positions in these organisations.
Arrested, detained and restricted continuously throughout his active political life before independence, the late Cde Malianga, whose brother Washington was deeply politically involved, never flinched from the national cause, and was to travel far and wide agitating and canvassing for the freedom of his people and the creation of a democratic, non-racial order in a free Zimbabwe.
Cde Malianga was imprisoned from 1964 to 1974 for his political activities.
After his release in 1974, he worked together with other members of the Zanu Central Committee in a mobilisation campaign for the liberation war. He also took part in the Victoria Falls, Geneva Conference and Lancaster House Conference that led to the country’s independence in 1980.
In the first Parliament of Zimbabwe in 1980, Cde Malianga was appointed Senator and became Deputy Minister of Economic Planning and Development in 1981. Two years later, he became Deputy Minister of Finance, Economic Planning and Development.
He was also appointed Deputy Minister of Industry and Commerce in 1990 and was a Zanu PF Central Committee member until his death.