VICE President John Nkomo has been declared a national hero. Cde Nkomo (79), who died of cancer on Thursday morning, will be buried at the National Heroes' Acre on Monday. Announcing the Politburo decision to the Nkomo family at VP Nkomo's Milton Park residence in Harare yesterday, President Mugabe said the Zanu-PF Politburo had unanimously agreed that Cde Nkomo be declared a national hero.
The President said the decision was made after the Politburo took cognisance of VP Nkomo's track record during the liberation struggle, his consistency in Government and work for the development of Zimbabwe and its people.
"We worked together for many, many years and the feeling one has is not the feeling of someone I used to know, but someone I worked with."
President Mugabe described the Cde Nkomo as a peacemaker.
Cde Nkomo, he said, had established the John Nkomo Secondary School because of his love for the people.
"I saw the ambition of John to lift up the country. It was the idea he had for a long period, which idea we shared.
"He was carrying this burden, of that pain, of this disease that was persistent and he lost that battle."
President Mugabe said Cde Nkomo had been appointed to the Organ of National Healing, Reconciliation and Integration because of his status as a peacemaker.
"When we formed the inclusive Government, he came to me and asked; 'What am I supposed to do?'
"I told him that you would be a peacemaker. We want peace in the country and you will help to formulate the organ that would bring peace and reconciliation."
Cde Nkomo's last wish, President Mugabe said, was to have the organ recognised in the Constitution.
"He survived the bomb incident that killed JZ Moyo and I told him that 'you are a survivor'. Now my survivor is gone."
President Mugabe said Cde Nkomo deserved a grand funeral in recognition of his contribution to the liberation of Zimbabwe.
"Although we are not God to say these people deserve more than the heavenly rest, we would want him to join the others like Joshua Nkomo, Joseph Msika, Simon Muzenda bonke balele eHeroes Acre.
"We are together. We shall all feel the loss. I have lost my left hand, but God has called him.
"We declared him a national hero because there are a very few like him, very, very few like him."
The President said Cde Nkomo's death was an act of God.
"It is God who knows when the day comes and how you would die," he said. "John was a strong man. Anga ari murume akasimba. Zvekundenga-ndenga, kukwezva nemari, zvaisava zvavo. There has not been any temptation that could win him against the party."
President Mugabe said Cde Nkomo had lost the fight against a common enemy, death.
"It is such enemies that take us. It maybe cancer today, or stroke the next day. Ailment and diseases are waiting for all of us.
"We are born to live our lives but also leave that life.
"We are working together in Government as different parties. He worked hard that we enjoy the peace.
"We can now talk of those nonsensical things to each other including about our girlfriends and boyfriends. Not that the Principals never did but may be at a grander scale."
President Mugabe said Government and Zanu-PF would continue working with Cde Nkomo's family.
"We shall carry the family burden. We shall be there for the family. His name shall not go into oblivion.
"In honour, we shall bury him with the others we buried at the Heroes Acre," he said.
Family representative and Cde Nkomo's son Jabulani welcomed the Politburo decision to accord his father national hero status.
"We accept the declaration in humbleness. It is difficult because each time he talked about a meeting; we had a picture of the four of you (Presidium). It's sad when you are seated here and we notice that one of you is gone."
He said the family was confident the Government and the party would not let them down.
"We celebrate his achievements. We are happy that we had a father like him. He was a peacemaker.
"We hope that what he did for the people will always be remembered," he said.
According to the programme announced by Zanu-PF national secretary for administration Cde Didymus Mutasa, Cde Nkomo's body would be flown to his rural home in Tsholotsho today.
It will lie in state at his mother's home before body viewing at the Landa John Nkomo High School in Tsholotsho tomorrow.
It would later be flown over to Bulawayo where people would have a chance for body viewing.
Cde Nkomo's body would be taken to White City Stadium for body viewing before it is flown back to Harare.
He will lie in state in Harare before burial on Monday.
Zanu-PF national chairman Cde Simon Khaya Moyo, Cde Mutasa, Cde Sydney Sekeramayi, Cde Rugare Gumbo, Cde Emmerson Mnangagwa and Cde Oppah Muchinguri will accompany the body.