Mtukudzi declared national hero; Namibia president phones to pay his respects

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By Staff Reporter

PRESIDENT Emmerson Mnangagwa on Thursday described late music icon Oliver Mtukudzi as an international icon whose status as a national hero needed little deliberation.

Zanu PF’s politburo reportedly engaged in a “round-robin” phone meeting and agreed to confer the national hero status on music legend Mtukudzi.

Zanu PF secretary for information Simon Khaya Moyo had confirmed earlier Thursday that consultations were underway.

“We are consulting. We may not meet physically but there is a round robin way we use to consult everyone, and the decision is taken to the President (Mnangagwa) before it is announced,” Khaya Moyo said.

Late Thursday, President Mnangagwa announced the decision when he visited the Mtukudzi family home in Norton to pay his respects.

He was accompanied by First Lady Auxillia, Vice President Constantino Chiwenga’s wife Mary, Defence Minister Oppah Muchinguri-Kashiri, Information Minister Monica Mutsvangwa and Zimbabwe Defence Forces commander Philip Valerio Sibanda among other top government officials.

Mtukudzi passed away Wednesday after a long battle with diabetes.

Government according, to Mnangagwa, will fund the late jazz crooner’s funeral.

The president said the superstar, popularly known as Tuku, had wowed millions across the world with his music, adding that Namibian president Namibian President Hage Geingob phoned him to express his condolences.

“The Namibian President called me today and asked if it was true that he had died. He expressed his shock at his death and expressed his deepest and sincere condolences,” said Mnangagwa.

He said Mtukudzi’s family will decide where he will be buried.

Sources claimed the family had accepted the heroes status but, like former National University of Science and Technology Vice Chancellor Phenias Makhurane, the late singer will not be laid to rest at the National Heroes’ Acre.

“Even if we have declared him a national hero, we have no powers on Tuku’s family, will leave it to the family to lead on the burial arrangements that will be announced to us and Monica Mutsvangwa will let the nation know,” said Mnangagwa.

Mtukudzi becomes the first musician to get the honour of being declared a national hero. Another iconic singer, Simon Chimbetu, was declared a provincial hero following his death a few years ago.

Former Zimbabwe Farmers Union president Garikai Magadzire, philanthropist Jairos Jiri, former Chief Secretary to the President and Cabinet Charles Utete are among other leading Zimbabweans outside the political realm to have been declared national heroes for outstanding service to Zimbabwe.