THE country must peacefully hold its harmonised elections this year in fulfilment of the Vice President Landa John Nkomo's wish, President Mugabe said yesterday. Addressing thousands of mourners who thronged the National Heroes Acre in Harare to pay their last respect to Cde Nkomo, President Mugabe underscored the need for peace.
"Let us carry that message with us in our daily lives. It was his dear wish to see elections, which are scheduled for this year, carry this exhortation of peace, peace and more peace. For it is one way we could honour his legacy and that of others who fought for this country in order to make it the peaceful and tranquil oasis we have today.
"The overriding common denominator is that we are all Zimbabweans.
"The heroes who lie here would surely turn in their graves if we betrayed their sacrifices and trust through petty personal differences that serve only to weaken us so that the enemy can once again recolonise us."
President Mugabe said the nation derived solace from observing that Cde Nkomo died on the day the parties to the GPA resolved outstanding issues that were standing in the way of concluding the draft Constitution.
He said the GPA Principals succeeded in narrowing their differences on matters that had threatened to divide national interest.
"In other words, there was a meeting of minds over the need to move the country forward in a united way, and we demonstrated that we can do it on our own as Zimbabweans.
"This, John would have surely applauded, as his wish was to see the country rising above unnecessary skirmishes and achieve national unity.
"I am sure you will all agree that that is the best tribute we are paying to him as we lay him to his rest. Unity, national unity governed by peace is the sine-qua-non of our national success," President Mugabe said.
He said Zimbabweans boast of a country endowed with abundant natural resources envied by developed countries some of which "are working night and day to divide us and distract us from focusing on developing our country".
"As Zimbabweans, we should have realised by now that in international relations, all countries advance their national interests first.
"There are no philanthropists who can leave their own countries simply to come over and develop the economies of other countries.
"We are in a world that is competing for limited resources and therefore when we relate with other countries we should never lose focus that wherever we are as Zimbabweans, we are always there to defend and protect our national interests first."
The President said Zimbabweans should put the country first before personal interest as was done by the Cde Nkomo and other heroes of the liberation struggle.
He narrated the contribution made by Cde Nkomo during the liberation struggle and how a parcel bomb from the Rhodesian forces that killed national hero Cde Jason Moyo in Zambia inflicted permanent injuries on him.
"While in the face of adversity, many comrades fell by the wayside, some as sellouts who betrayed the revolution, but many stood steadfast.
"In this latter category of revolutionary political cadres belonged our late Vice President Nkomo, who refused to betray the hopes and aspirations of the majority of our people," he said.
President Mugabe said Cde Nkomo committed himself to subordinating his personal interest for the greater good of the majority of the people of Zimbabwe.
He said after independence, Cde Nkomo served the country despite the injuries suffered 36 years ago.
"Why? Why? Why? I do not know why the good Lord has snatched the good revolutionary from us. Why cancer?" he said.
President Mugabe said despite battling cancer for a long time, he hoped Cde Nkomo would overcome the ailment.
"But this was not to be and last Thursday he succumbed to it. The gallant revolutionary fighter had fallen. This man I call survivor had now fallen. Even the brave, the most revolutionary, most courageous, they all have their day," he said.
President Mugabe described Cde Nkomo as a peacemaker and great unifier.
"Even where we differed politically, Cde Nkomo was there to mediate our differences. He was there on the forefront in the formation of the Patriotic Front that sought to unite the external wings of Zapu and Zanu under one umbrella to prosecute the armed struggle as a united force against the Rhodesian Forces."
He said after the formation of the inclusive Government, Cde Nkomo became the chairman of the Organ for Peace and National Healing working with Ministers Sekai Holland and the late Gibson Sibanda.
"He was the right person for this challenging task which he implemented ably with passion, and the results are there for all of us to see.
"Peace, unity and harmony should prevail in the country if we desire to move forward, and that was the message which the late Nkomo and his colleagues preached through the medium of the Organ for Peace and National Healing which he chaired.
"His sterling message was peace begins with me, peace begins with you, and peace begins with all of us," President Mugabe said.
Cde Nkomo is survived by his mother and four children.