The Sunday Mail
Sunday Mail Reporters
Members of Zanu-PF’s Politburo were last night discussing requests for conferment of national hero status to former Chief Justice Godfrey Chidyausiku, with a determination expected today. Justice Chidyausiku (70) reportedly succumbed to kidney and liver complications last Wednesday in South Africa where he was undergoing treatment.
Family members, Vice-President Emmerson Mnangagwa, Cabinet ministers and senior State officials received his body at Harare International Airport yesterday.
Addressing mourners at a church service and body-viewing ceremony, VP Mnangagwa said: “I had a chat with President Mugabe on his return from (the World Economic Forum in) South Africa (last Friday), and he said consultations should take place. The President will speak more about Cde Chidyausiku and announce the way forward.
“For the Government and the party, Zanu-PF, he was a hero in his own right. He has done his mandate. As a nation, we feel his loss. Even though he has gone, we feel that he has fulfilled his task on earth. We are very happy that he stood his ground on land reforms.
“He had a vision, and he is a hero from that perspective. Land was the reason we went to war and he played his part for us to win back our land.”
VP Mnangagwa also said: “I was part of the team that was coming from Mozambique and he came from Salisbury to join our team of legal experts that included Cde (Edison) Zvobgo, Cde Simbi Mubako and I (for the Lancaster House Conference).
“We worked together during preparations for the (Lancaster House) talks. While living together in London, we developed a friendship that lasted till his death.”
Zanu-PF Secretary for Administration Dr Ignatius Chombo told The Sunday Mail last night that the Politburo was siezed with the matter of Cde Chidyausiku’s hero status.
“I can confirm that consultations on the late Chief Justice Godfrey Chidyausiku’s hero status are starting shortly. We have received letters from Mashonaland East, the Army and war veterans recommending national liberation hero status for Chief Justice Chidyausiku.
“We also received a detailed curriculum vitae, outlining all of Chief Justice Chidyausiku’s contributions to the nation before and after Independence. The procedure, as it is in all such situations, is that the relevant authority, which is the Politburo, should confer.
“Right now, I am at the Chidyausiku family home and have conveyed to the family the letters of recommendation that we received; they are happy. Now, we are discussing as members of the Politburo after which we will make a recommendation to His Excellency, the President. We hope to be done with our consultations by midday (today).”
Chief Justice Luke Malaba said his predecessor’s death was heart-breaking.
“I learnt of his death with a deep sense of sadness and one cannot believe that only two months after we celebrated his immense contribution to the Judiciary, he is no more.
“He was a source of wisdom and a profound repository of institutional memory. I looked forward to continuously consulting him on the way forward in the administration of justice. This is one of the darkest moments in the history of the country’s Judiciary.”
Judicial Service Commission Chairperson Justice Rita Makarau said: “We are in complete darkness and profound shock. Our light has been switched off.”
Cde Chidyausiku’s brother, Ambassador Boniface Chidyausiku, thanked Government for having sought the best medical attention for the revered jurist.
Cde Chidyausiku was born in Domboshawa on February 23 1947, and attended Mutake School at Makumbi Mission and then St Ignatius College in Chishawasha.
He studied Law at the then University of Rhodesia (1968-1972), venturing into private practice afterwards.
In 1974, he won the Harare African Roll Constituency, and stood down from Parliament three years later. He was appointed Local Government and Housing Deputy Minister at Independence in 1980 after which he served as Deputy Minister of Justice and subsequently as Attorney-General.
He was to be appointed to the High Court and chaired the 2000 Constitutional Commission tasked with drafting a new national supreme law.
After Chief Justice Anthony Gubbay’s resignation, Cde Chidyausiku took over the judiciary’s topmost job in 2001.