ZIMBABWE'S ambassador to the Democratic Republic of Congo Cde John Mayowe (60), who died in South Africa last Saturday, will be buried today at the National Heroes Acre. He succumbed to cancer.
The freedom fighter's body was yesterday morning flown to his rural home in Bikita, Masvingo, to afford people in the province an opportunity to bid him farewell.
The body was flown back to Harare in the evening aboard a Zimbabwe National Army helicopter.
It was accompanied by Masvingo Governor Titus Maluleke, Zanu-PF provincial chairman Cde Lovemore Matuke, Zanu-PF secretary for production and labour Cde Dzikamai Mavhaire, Major-General Engelbert Rugeje and Retired Brigadier-General Gibson Mashingaidze.
The deceased's mother Mbuya Esinah Mandebvu, widow Tendai and son Ushewamambo also accompanied the body.
A church service was held in honour of Cde Mayowe at One Commando Barracks yesterday morning and his body lay in state at his Greendale home ahead of burial this morning.
Acting Harare Provincial Governor Mr Alfred Tome urged Zimbabweans to throng the National Heroes' Acre to bid farewell to Cde Mayowe.
"All is in place for the burial and buses will be available at the usual pick-up points. We expect people to be at the national shrine by 10am.
"I urge people to turn up in their thousands as we say goodbye to one of our distinguished freedom fighters."
Hundreds of people yesterday thronged the Mayowe homestead at Mukanga Village in Mabika communal lands, Bikita, to bid farewell to the national hero.
The body arrived just after 11am.
Speaker-after-speaker hailed Cde Mayowe as a dedicated freedom fighter who was committed to the total emancipation of his motherland.
Cde Mavhaire described the deceased as a rare breed of a freedom fighter.
He said Ambassador Mayowe's death had robbed Masvingo Province and the nation at large of an unassuming veteran nationalist who was focused.
Governor Maluleke said the people of Bikita and Masvingo at large were indebted to selfless freedom fighters like Cde Mayowe.
"The only way we can repay gallant sons of the soil like Ambassador Mayowe is to vote for Zanu-PF in the forthcoming elections. Cde Mayowe loved his country that is why he abandoned university education to join the liberation struggle.
"We can only pay back such rare individuals by making sure that we keep alive their dreams of seeing a Zimbabwe whose people are the sole controllers of its wealth and natural resources," he said.
Cde Matuke described Cde Mayowe as a rare nationalist who was unassuming despite his lofty achievements.
"We want to thank His Excellency the President Cde Mugabe for giving the people of Masvingo special recognition through the conferment of national hero status on Ambassador Mayowe. We feel even more indebted, especially as Ambassador Mayowe's death comes soon after the passing on of Dr Stan Mudenge who was also declared a national hero," he said.
Bikita district war veterans chairman Cde Ignatius Murindi urged people in the district to be wary of counter revolutionary forces bent on reversing the gains of Zimbabwe's independence.
Cde Mayowe's son Masimba expressed gratitude to Zanu-PF and President Mugabe for recognising the special role played by his father before and after independence.
Born on April 16, 1952 at Ndanga Hospital in Zaka, Cde Mayowe did his secondary education at Highfield Secondary School before proceeding to Harare High School for his Advanced Level.
During the liberation struggle, he worked closely with the late Zanla commander Cde Josiah Magama Tongogara as director of the Chitepo School of Ideology.
At the school, he provided intellectual direction to cadres in the later part of the liberation struggle, including the initial training of many political commissars.
He was among the first Zimbabwean diplomats in 1980 and served in various countries including Mozambique, Romania, Bulgaria, Senegal and the DRC.
While serving as Ambassador of Zimbabwe to the Republic of Mozambique, he was the driving force behind the establishment of the Chimoio Monuments to commemorate the people who lost their lives in Mozambique during the struggle.
Cde Mayowe contributed in the construction of another monument in Zambia.
He is survived by his wife and five children.