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President bemoans deaths of lieutenants

President Robert Mugabe yesterday described the last six months as the darkest period for his Zanu PF party as he has had to bury at least four national heroes at the national shrine in the shortest space of time.

BY XOLISANI NCUBE

President Robert Mugabe and the first lady Grace at the burial of Niason Khutshwekhaya Ndlovu at the National Heroes’ Acre yesterday. Picture: Shepherd Tozvireva
President Robert Mugabe and the first lady Grace at the burial of Niason Khutshwekhaya Ndlovu at the National Heroes’ Acre yesterday. Picture: Shepherd Tozvireva

Addressing mourners at the burial of national hero and former Senate deputy president, Naison Ndlovu, Mugabe said this year, it had been tough for Zanu PF as the party had lost its “great luminaries”.

“This year has been quite a sad year, probably the saddest, because we have been here as many times in the shortest period.

“We have been here four times and this is the fifth,” Mugabe said at a funeral largely attended by security details and few party supporters from Bulawayo.

So far this year, Mugabe has buried three national leaders, among them former chief justice, Godfrey Chidyausiku, the late assistant director in the President’s Office, Zenzo Ntuliki and veteran politician and first black government chief of protocol Peter Chanetsa, among others.

The 93-year-old leader described the late Ndlovu – who was the first black mayor for Bulawayo and the last Zapu national chair before the signing of the Unity Accord in 1987 – as a humble person who never used politics to advance his interest.

Mugabe, who spent over an hour addressing the mourners, spoke at length about the liberation struggle and how Ndlovu fought along with the late Vice President Joshua Nkomo in Zapu to bring the country’s independence.

Ndlovu died last Monday in Bulawayo at the age of 86 and is survived by his wife and two children.

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