ZIMBABWEANS should tolerate each other's political and social preferences ahead of harmonised elections expec-ted in March next year, the President has said.
Addressing mourners at the burial of Higher and Tertiary Education Minister Isack Stan Mudenge at the Natio-nal Heroes Acre yesterday, President Mugabe urged leaders to earn respect through good deeds.
"There is a need to ensure that you behave as a Zimbabwean who recognises that your nationality is also for your neighbour.
"Your importance is as good as your neighbour's. Kunyangwe uri shefu, urimunhuwo. Hunhu hwako hunofanira kuonekwa nemabasa ako.
"We may have differences, but we are the same people. Allow others to have their own preferences. Let us recognise these virtues which make us more united than divided."
"Let people vote the way they want to vote. Kana pane anoda kukanda vhoti yake mudziva, ndezvakewo izvo . . . Do unto others as you would want them to do unto you."
President Mugabe said Cde Mudenge dedicated his life to serving Zimbabwe.
He said the veteran nationalist was not feeling well, but "died on duty".
"He died in typical style. He was full of energy, of ideas and although he was weak, his mind told him that he had a duty to perform," the President said.
He urged Zimbabweans to emulate Cde Mudenge's dedication to duty.
"During his last days, he wanted the University of Zimbabwe to incorporate studies on our culture," said President Mugabe.
"I hope the university will start these programmes with their colleagues from South Africa who had shown interest in the programme."
President Mugabe said Cde Mudenge wanted children to be taught cultural values for them to live peacefully with others.
He said the late nationalist never gave up on his efforts to improve Zimbabwe's education sector.
President Mugabe said Cde Mudenge was persistent and always found a way of bringing back issues that would have been rejected by the Zanu-PF Politburo or Cabinet.
He hailed Cde Mudenge for pushing for the establishment of the cadetship programme to assist under-privileged students.
"He always called for assistance of the less-privileged. He was always advising on how Government could deal with issues affecting universities," said President Mugabe.
"The water woes at the University of Zimbabwe, he would bring such issues to Cabinet..."
President Mugabe said Cde Mudenge carved a niche in the annals of history in Zimbabwe.
"The history of this country will be incomplete without making reference to the contributions that he made in the course of his illustrious life," he said
President Mugabe said Cde Mudenge would be remembered for his "invaluable services" in the foreign affairs ministry.
Cde Mudenge was the first black foreign affairs secretary before representing Zimbabwe as permanent representative at the United Nations and subsequently foreign affairs minister at the height of the country's standoff with London.
President Mugabe said Cde Mudenge defended Zimbabwe's land reform programme against all odds.
He said his contributions to higher and tertiary education could not be "glossed over".
"Cde Mudenge had a vision to grow this sector and to decentralise the establishment of the learning institutions to ensure that every province had at least a university, polytechnic and a tertiary institution," said President Mugabe.
He said Minister Mudenge soldiered on even in Zimbabwe's tough economic woes.
Minister Mudenge collapsed and died in his hotel room in Masvingo last Thursday.
He is survived by his wife Mildred and three children.