21 January 2013

Zimbabwe: All Set for VP Nkomo Burial

Photo: http://www.swradioafrica.com
Late Vice President John Landa Nkomo.

All roads lead to the National Heroes Acre today for the burial of veteran nationalist and national hero Vice President Landa John Nkomo.

His body arrived in Harare from Bulawayo yesterday and was ferried to his Milton Park residence.

VP Nkomo (79) succumbed to cancer at Annes' Hospital on Thursday morning and was declared a national hero. The body arrived at the Harare International Airport from Bulawayo aboard an Air Zimbabwe plane accompanied by family members and senior Zanu-PF politicians.

It was taken to One Commando Barracks before proceeding to the Vice President's Milton Park residence where a church service was conducted.

Members of the Seventh-Day Adventist Church presided over the church service.

Foreign dignitaries started arriving in the country yesterday to attend the burial to be presided over by the Head of State and Government and Commander-in-Chief of the Zimbabwe Defence Forces President Mugabe.

Tanzanian vice president Mohammed Gharib Bilal and his wife Asha Bilal jetted into the country at 4 pm yesterday, followed by Namibian prime minister Hage Geingob and his delegation at around 6.30pm.

South African deputy president Kgalema Motlanthe and the vice president of Botswana Dr Ponatshego Honorius Kefhaeng Kedikilwe are expected to join other dignitaries today.

At Milton Park, Zanu-PF national chairman Cde Simon Khaya Moyo narrated how the team of selected party official travelled to the late VP rural home in Tsholotstsho.

Cde Khaya Moyo hailed the nation for its unity of purpose throughout the funeral programme.

"The unity of purpose demonstrated is touching. It is also characteristic of the man we are bidding farewell," said Cde Moyo.

MDC-T organising secretary Mr Nelson Chamisa attended the church service together with other party officials including Senator Obert Gutu and Sekai Holland. Mr Chamisa described VP Nkomo as his source of inspiration.

"We have worked together very well with VP Nkomo as our senior leader in Government. I was really inspired by his passion for the people in general.

"We have lost a source of inspiration for rural development. His aspirations for young people in particular were so great and they were evidenced by the school he recently built.

"He approached my office and we launched an Information Communication Technology programme there," said Mr Chamisa.

Harare provincial administrator Mr Alfred Tome yesterday said 20 buses to ferry mourners from most of the city's suburbs to the National Heroes Acre have been made available.

"Most of the people know our picking up points especially when there is a national event and the buses will ferry them to and from the national shrine. I would also like to appeal to private motorists and transport owners to assist in ferrying people like they used to do," he said.

Officer commanding National Traffic police Senior Assistant Commissioner Martin Chari said their officers would be controlling traffic at intersections leading to Stodart Hall in Mbare and to the Heroes Acre to ensure smooth flow of traffic.

"We will have normal traffic control because there will be heavy flow of traffic. We would like to advise motorists who will not be going to such places to avoid the roads used by mourners so that they wont be any congestion," he said.

Snr Asst Comm Chari urged other private motorists and buses transporting people to park their vehicles at the National Sports Stadium's main car park. He said some vehicles would be denied entry into the National Heroes Acre.

VP Nkomo was the founding member of the African National Congress between 1958 and 1959.

He joined the National Democratic Party in 1960 before joining the Zimbabwe African People's Union in 1961.

The veteran nationalist was arrested on several occasions by the Smith regime and detained at Gonakudzingwa between 1966 and 68.

He joined the African National Council where he was deputy secretary-general in 1971. VP Nkomo attended the Geneva Conference as part of the Zimbabwe African People's Party (PF-Zapu) delegation led by the late Vice President Joshua Nkomo in 1976.

He was injured in a parcel bomb that killed Cde Jason Ziyapapa Moyo in 1977. After the country gained independence in 1980, he became a Member of Parliament for Matabeleland North between 1980 and 1985.

He served as Deputy Minister of Industry and Energy in 1981 and was Minister of State in the Prime Minister's Office responsible to the Deputy Prime Minister from 1982-84.

VP Nkomo became a Member of Parliament for Tsholotsho between 1985 and 1990.

He was appointed Minister of Labour, Manpower Planning and Social Welfare from 1988 to 1995. Between 1990 and 1995, he served as MP for Bulawayo North and was re-elected legislator for Bulawayo North from 1995 to 2000.

VP Nkomo was Minister of Local Government and Rural Development in 1995 before being appointed Minister of Local Government and National Housing in 1997. Between 2000 and 2001, he was Minister of Home Affairs. In 2002, he was appointed Minister of State in the President's Office Responsible for Special Affairs.

He became Speaker of Parliament in 2005 up to 2008. VP Nkomo was appointed Minister of State in the President's Office responsible for National Healing, Reconciliation and Integration, 2009 after the inception of the Inclusive Government.

He was appointed Vice President on December 14, 2009.

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