National hero Cde Kenneth Manyonda will be buried at the National Heroes Acre in Harare today, with President Mnangagwa expected to lead proceedings.
Cde Manyonda (88) died last week after a long illness and was declared a national hero in recognition of the role he played both before and after the country’s Independence.
In an interview yesterday, Home Affairs and Cultural Heritage Minister Kazembe Kazembe said the burial programme for Cde Manyonda will start early and urged the public to turn up in huge numbers.
“Everything is set, we will start a bit early so we are advising mourners to come early for the burial. We are expecting a huge number of people to come and bid farewell to our national hero who played his part and who is an inspiration to many,” said Cde Kazembe.
Secretary for Provincial Affairs and Devolution for Harare Metropolitan Province Mr Tafadzwa Muguti said as the hosts of the National Heroes Acre, they will go out in their numbers to bid farewell to the departed hero.
“Harare Metropolitan Province mourns with the nation on the passing of our national hero, Cde Manyonda. We encourage all citizens resident within the province to come out in their numbers as we bid farewell to a great son of the soil.
“We also would like to advise the nation that we have provided 40 buses as Government and we also have other stakeholders who are also providing more buses. May we be at our usual pick-up points by 0600 hrs. All buses will be deployed to the various districts across the entire province,” he said.
Mr Muguti said all provinces, including Manicaland where Cde Manyonda hailed from, were provided with buses to ferry people to the National Heroes Acre.
Zanu PF Harare provincial chairman Cde Goodwills Masimirembwa described the national hero as a patriotic party cadre who fought a strong fight against the then MDC-T leader Mr Morgan Tsvangirai, his cousin, in Buhera North constituency in the 2000 general elections.
Then, Cde Manyonda polled 12 850 votes against Mr Tsvangirai’s 10 316.
During that period, a number of Non-Governmental Organisations were dishing out goodies in Buhera to the people in support of Mr Tsvangirai.
“He became very popular within the revolutionary party’s rank and file,” said Cde Masimirembwa.
He urged party members from Harare to come out in their numbers to bid farewell to their own nationalist.
In his condolence message last week, President Mnangagwa described Cde Manyonda as a soft spoken veteran nationalist who cut his political teeth in trade unionism during the colonial days.
“Cde Manyonda remained in step with our nationalist movement and the struggle until our National Independence,” said the President.
He had joined politics far back in the heady days of the National Democratic Party (NDP) and had remained engaged until Independence.
Like his peers, President Mnangagwa said Cde Manyonda suffered harassment and incarceration at the hands of the colonial authorities, but without ever giving up or abandoning the cause.
The President said he thus stands in national annals as a symbol of fearless fortitude and unwavering commitment.
After Independence, President Mnangagwa said the late nationalist served his country diligently, including in the higher office of minister of Government after his appointment as Deputy Minister and, later as Governor of Manicaland Province.
Cde Manyonda, who at the time of his death was acting chief Nerutanga, became a member of the African National Congress of Rhodesia not long after its formation and then joined the National Democratic Party after the banning of the ANC, becoming the local branch secretary of the NDP in Gweru.
After a short period working in Livingstone, Zambia, Cde Manyonda returned to Gweru in 1962, where he was asked to become chairman of the Gweru branch of ZAPU. Also at that time, Cde Manyonda first became involved in trade union activity.
He obtained a post as an accounts clerk for Charles W Hall Ltd, a hosiery manufacturing company, and when workers at the factory decided to form themselves into a branch of the Textile Workers’ Union of Rhodesia, Cde Manyonda was elected their chairman.
At a national meeting in Kadoma, the union’s name was changed to the United Textile Workers Union of Rhodesia and Cde Manyonda was elected president.
Following the split in ZAPU and the formation of ZANU in 1963, Cde Manyonda joined the latter organisation.
Cde Manyonda was born in Buhera in 1934 and after completing his education he worked in various jobs in the industrial and commercial sector.
Also at that time, Cde Manyonda first became involved in trade union activity.
He became vice-chairman of the Gweru branch and was increasingly involved in both political and trade union activities.
In 1966 he was arrested and began what turned out to be over two years of detention. On his release in 1968, he found himself unemployable in industry.