ED did not consult on Mabenge hero status; there was no need – says war veteran

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By Staff Reporter

CONFERMENT of national heroes status on the late Retired Brigadier General Benjamin Mabenge by President Emmerson Mnangagwa was a given as the struggle veteran was “ a real soldier in the pedigree of Perrence Shiri and Tonderai Nyika.”

This was said in Kwekwe Tuesday by George Makombe, an independence struggle colleague and close friend of Mabenge, who died at a Harare hospital Monday.

His body was taken to his Kwekwe farm on Tuesday ahead of burial in Harare Wednesday.

“… the President didn’t consult when he heard that Mabenge had passed on,” said Makombe.

“He (Mnangagwa) just conferred him with the national heroes status because that is deserved. We are honoured with the President’s gesture.”

Makombe said he met the national hero during the war in 1977 and forged not only a good working relationship but also a friendship which developed to a family relations.

They only separated briefly when Mabenge was deployed by Zanu PF to Syria and then reunited after independence, with Makombe working under Mabenge.

“When I say Mabenge was a soldier some people might ask how do I mean? Because, for them, anyone who is putting on a camouflage is a soldier,” said Makombe.

“However, the deceased was a rare breed of a soldier. He was his own pedigree. Someone who was committed and dedicated to the country.”

Mabenge’s mettle was proven during the height of the second Chimurenga when he was the commander of the highly volatile Gaza Province.

“He was a commander and a soldier par excellence,” said Makombe.

“It’s sad we are losing the greatest soldiers of our time. We lost Perrence Shiri, Tonderai Nyika, and now Mabenge.

“I would say these were our greatest commanders as they were operational field commanders in charge of provinces during the liberation struggle.

“I can say I was privileged to work under these great commanders.”

The national hero served in various boards after independence in 1980.

He would also become the first director general of Chiadzwa Diamond and only leaving after allegedly being haunted out by the Chinese for whistle blowing on underhand dealings.

Mabenge also served on the ZBC board and was one of the three commissioners of the Zimbabwe Defence Forces Commission.