The Sunday Mail
Farirai Machivenyika and Rumbidzayi Zinyuke
Zimbabweans should emulate the life of the late liberation hero Cde Herbert Wiltshire Chitepo through using their skills, expertise, knowledge and abilities for the good of the nation, President Mnangagwa said yesterday.
Speaking at the official renaming ceremony of Headquarters 3 Infantry Brigade Barracks in Mutare to Herbert Chitepo Barracks, President Mnangagwa said in-spite of being a lawyer by profession, Cde Chitepo chose to use his legal expertise to advance the cause for national liberation.
“I urge all of you to learn from the life of the late Cde Chitepo, who in-spite of being a lawyer by profession, chose to use his legal expertise to advance the cause for national liberation. Let us therefore as Zimbabweans in whatever profession or trade, use our skills, expertise, knowledge and abilities for the good of our nation. Let us ask ourselves what we can do for our country and how we can best serve our country and its people. The task to rebuild our country and propel national economic development and transformation is ours together,” said President Mnangagwa.
While commending the Zimbabwe Defence Forces (ZDF) for taking the lead in the process of honouring heroes and heroines of the liberation struggle, the Head of State and Government said the renaming of barracks was a continuation of Government’s decision to recognise the outstanding services of some of the leading luminaries of the war of liberation.
“The renaming of our institutions after some of these leading military strategists par excellence and Pan-African revolutionaries will go a long way in preserving the country’s history, which we must bequeath to future generations.
“This process has without doubt set in motion our long-standing desire to rewrite our own history, which promotes our Zimbabwean values and celebrates our heroes.
“The renaming exercise is a demonstration of the uttermost respect and deep appreciation of the important roles played by our heroes who sacrificed their lives for the liberation of Zimbabwe from colonial bondage,” he said.
He added: “The selection of the late founding chairman of Zanu, Comrade Chitepo and a few others, after whom the military cantonments have been renamed, is not meant to obliterate the role played by the rest of the liberation war fighters, war collaborators, detainees and the progressive people of this country during the armed liberation struggle. It is a humble recognition of their outstanding services to the revolution that put them a cut above the rest.
“It is also a symbolic gesture for the many unsung heroes and heroines of our struggle, who lie in unmarked graves both at home and on foreign lands.”
Cde Chitepo was the first black citizen in the then Southern Rhodesia to become a barrister and was later appointed as the first African Director of Prosecutions in Tanganyika, now Tanzania.
Yesterday’s renaming ceremony was the third such event following similar ceremonies for Josiah Magama Tongogara Barracks – formerly King George VI Barracks – and Alfred Nikita Mangena Barracks – formerly Zimbabwe National Defence University – in December 2017 and March 2018, respectively.
Flyde Airforce Base, which has been named after Comrade Jason Ziyapapa Moyo, will be the next to be officially renamed.
Numerous renaming ceremonies for the rest of the military cantonments will subsequently follow.
According to President Mnangagwa, it was fitting for Headquarters 3 Infantry Brigade to be renamed after Cde Chitepo, who he commended for his “boldness, unfailing devotion, commitment, patriotism and loyalty”, as it was formed from mostly members of the Zanla and Zipra forces who fought fierce protracted battles to dislodge colonial rule.
It was also among the first brigades that mobilised to carry out offensive operations against Renamo during the Mozambican Campaign.
In addition to carrying out peace operations in Somalia and Angola, the brigade also carried out Operation Sovereign Legitimacy in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) in August 1998 and Operation Restore Legacy in November last year.
Vice President Constantino Chiwenga, who also administers the Ministry of Defence and War Veterans Affairs; Commander of the ZDF, General Philip Valerio Sibanda, service chiefs and other senior Government officials attended yesterday’s event.
In his remarks, VP Chiwenga said Cde Chitepo was instrumental in spearheading the liberation struggle after Zanu was banned.
“Cde Chitepo re-organised the Revolutionary Council into “DARE”, which became the supreme council for the prosecution of the armed struggle by Zanla.
“He spelt out clear cut strategies and tactics which placed a premium on thorough mass mobilisation before the onset of military operations in any new zone. He restructured the party in order to make it more efficient. His enemies were so alarmed by his successes that they plotted his assassination,” he said.
The Vice President also said Cde Chitepo was clear that the land issue was the main objective of the liberation struggle, as demonstrated by his speech in Australia in 1974, in which he said revolutions around the world were all about land ownership.
Family representative and the last born to Cde Chitepo, Cde Khule Zvenyika Chitepo, thanked Government for the honour bestowed on the Chitepo family.
“On behalf of the family, I am overwhelmed and overjoyed by what the Government has done in ensuring the continuation of the legacy of Herbert Chitepo,” he said.
He described his father as a person who upheld virtues of personal integrity.
“Personal integrity was a central pillar of what Herbert Chitepo stood for and I encourage the custodians of these barracks to remember that in everything they do,” said Cde Chitepo.
He also urged Zimbabweans to similarly honour other fallen heroes who contributed immensely to the liberation of Zimbabwe.
Cde Chitepo was born at Bonda Mission on June 5, 1923, and attended St Davids Bonda Mission School and St Augustine’s Mission School in Penhalonga for his primary and secondary education.
He graduated as a teacher at Adams College in Natal, South Africa, in 1945.
He later graduated with a BA degree from Fort Hare before getting a law degree from King’s College and Gray’s Inn, London.
He was assassinated in a car bomb in Zambia on March 18, 1975.
Read full speech on Page 11