A huge turnout is expected this morning at Stodart Hall and the National Heroes Acre in Harare for the send-off of Zanu-PF Politburo member and Minister of State for Provincial Affairs for Masvingo Senator Shuvai Ben Mahofa.
Known as the Iron Lady or Chikoforo (cultivator), Cde Mahofa will be the 224th person and tenth woman to be interred at the national shrine.
Cde Mahofa, who was the Zanu-PF national secretary for security in the Women’s League, died at Mukurira Memorial Clinic last week after battling poor health for some time.
She was 76.
Yesterday, Zanu-PF Women’s League Secretary Amai Grace Mugabe sent a condolence message to the Mahofa family.
In a condolence message on behalf of First Lady Amai Grace Mugabe early last week, the ruling party’s Women’s League secretary for administration Cde Leticia Undenge said: “Mai Mahofa was loyal to the party. She also taught us love. We are happy that she has been declared a national heroine.”
Senator Mahofa’s body arrived at One Commando yesterday at 2:25pm aboard an Air Force of Zimbabwe helicopter that airlifted her from her rural home in Mupandawana, Masvingo.
Zanu-PF Masvingo provincial chairperson Cde Lovemore Matuke and close family members accompanied the body.
At One Commando, her daughter Nyengeterai; Minister of Water, Environment and Climate Oppah Muchinguri-Kashiri; Zanu-PF national deputy commissar Cde Omega Hungwe; Harare Provincial Affairs Minister Miriam Chikukwa; the ruling party Women’s League secretary for administration Cde Leticia Undenge; senior military officers; friends and relatives received the body.
The body was taken to the Defence Forces VIP funeral parlour at the military facility before being ferried on a gun-carriage to her Greendale home.
Zanu-PF Politburo members Cdes Josiah Hungwe and Charles Tavengwa, and Deputy Speaker of the National Assembly Cde Mable Chinomona were among those who received the body in Greendale.
Minister Chikukwa said Cde Mahofa deserved a huge send-off.
“We have organised 25 buses to ferry mourners at the usual pick-up points in Harare from 6am (today). There are also 10 buses that will come from Masvingo of which three will be dedicated to close family members.
“Each of the other eight remaining provinces have been provided a bus to enable mourners to come to the Heroes Acre to bid farewell to a national heroine,” she said.
Speaking to journalists at One Commando Barracks, Cde Muchinguri-Kashiri said Zimbabwe had lost a strong woman.
“Mai Mahofa showed women that it was up to them to champion their empowerment. It is a pain not only for women but the nation at large to lose such a character
“She worked hard during the struggle as a chimbwido, a task that was dangerous . . . because you could be killed if sold out. I say we are what we are because of Chikoforo . . . we will continue to remember you.”
Cde Matuke told The Sunday Mail that: “She was a head in the province, she defended the province and gave the province an identity. She broke the ice in women taking leadership roles and she was the first woman in Gutu to be appointed into the Zanu-PF Politburo.”
In announcing her national hero status last week, Home Affairs Minister Dr Ignatius Chombo – who is also Zanu-PF National Secretary for Administration – said Cde Mahofa worked hard for Zimbabwe.
Born in 1941 in Chivi, Cde Mahofa attended Chibi Mission and Morgenster Mission schools.
She enrolled for a Diploma in General Nursing and underwent further training in Community Development at Domboshava Training Centre.
She was active in early nationalist politics as a member of the National Democratic Party and Zapu in 1960, and Zanu from 1963.
Cde Mahofa was a prominent war collaborator who assisted in hiding arms, and providing shelter, medicines and food to freedom fighters.
From 1980 to 1984, Sen Mahofa was a councillor for Ward 24 in Tirizi Gutu and also served as the first woman council chairperson for Gutu district.
She was elected Gutu South MP between 1985 and 2008 and served as the Zanu-PF Women’s League boss in Masvingo in the 1980s.
Cde Mahofa was Zanu-PF Women’s League political commissar for several years.
She was Deputy Minister of Women’s Affairs from 1987 to 1992, and Political Affairs Deputy Minister from 1992 to 1997. From 1998 to 2007, she was Deputy Minister of Gender and Youth Development.
In 2013, she was elected a Senator, leading to her appointment as Minister of State for Masvingo Provincial Affairs in February 2015, a post she occupied until death.
Cde Mahofa is survived by four children, 18 grandchildren and nine great-grandchildren.
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