The Herald (Harare)

Zimbabwe: 'We Won't Let Heroes Down'

LAND reform and indigenisation and economic empowerment programmes have fulfilled the wishes of fallen national heroes like Cde Josiah Magama Tongogara, President Mugabe has said. The Head of State and Government and Commander-in-Chief of the Zimbabwe Defence Forces said Cde Tongogara fought for an indigenous and egalitarian Zimbabwe full of empowered masses.

The President said this in a speech read on his behalf by Defence Minister Emmerson Mnangagwa during the official launch of the Josiah Magama Tongogara Legacy Foundation at KGVI in Harare yesterday.

The launch coincided with the commemoration of the former Zanla Chief of Defence and member of Dare reChimurenga who died on December 26, 1979 in a horrific car accident in Mozambique.

"Above all, with the land that has since come back into the hands of its true, rightful owners, and this after so long a painful wait, I am sure Josiah today celebrates with us the resolution of this age old grievance, celebrates with us the settlement finally of this grievance of all grievances for our people.

But again, he wants us to fend for those who have got the land so they prosper sustainably," he said.

The President said he was sure the late national hero was keenly seeing and following what the Government sought to do through its policy of indigenisation and economic empowerment.

"He urges us on, all the time exhorting us to use that policy to effectively restore to the masses their material dignity, indeed their place and voice in the national economy.

"We hear his voice daily saying Zimbabwe's resources belong to its people. We dare not let him down, we dare not trash his dreams of all those who fell in the war of liberation."

Zimbabwe, he said, owed a lot to families of departed comrades and those who are still surviving.

"Truthfully, Government programmes meant to fend for widows and children of our departed heroes, meant to give our surviving veterans substantial wherewithal, have not gone far enough, have not met some of their basic needs.

"This nation owes a lot to those who sacrificed for its coming into being. I thank the Ministry of Defence for its forward looking gesture, hoping we can build on programmes such as this one, in memory of all our heroes."

The President lauded Cde Tongogara's widow, Retired Lieutenant Colonel Angeline Tongogara for launching the Foundation in memory of her husband.

"The Foundation must make Tongo a living legacy, a living tissue of those values and ideals that liberated us, indeed values and ideals that must continue to inspire our nation. He deserves the honour."

Chairperson of the foundation, Dr Simbi Mubako, said the reason for the existence of the institution was to perpetuate the memory and honour of Cde Tongogara's great life and pass on the legacy of dedication and patriotism to younger generations.

He said over the years, the day used to be a low-key commemoration atten-ded by family and church members who would conduct a church service, but the foundation has teamed up and pooled resources to have a bigger event.

"The objective is to promote the national character of the event and it is our hope and plan to expand such a programme in years to come," he said.

Yesterday's event began with the laying of wreaths at the National Heroes' Acre where Cde Tongogara was interred.

Zimbabwe Defence Forces Commander General Constantine Chiwenga read Minister Mnangagwa's speech, while Air Force of Zimbabwe Commander Air Marshal Perrance Shiri read Gen Chiwenga's speech.

It was then followed with the main event at KGVI where several Government officials, friends and relatives attended.

Mai Tongogara lit 33 candles signifying the number of years that have passed since her husband's death.

The event was attended by Media, Information and Publicity Minister Webster Shamu, Secretary in the Ministry, Mr George Charamba, Foreign Affairs Minister Simbarashe Mumbengegwi, senior Government officials and diplomats accredited to Zimbabwe.

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