PROMINENT businessman Cde Ben Mucheche has been declared a national hero in honour of his contribution to the country before and after Independence.
Cde Mucheche succumbed to heart failure at his farm in Beatrice on June 14 at the age of 96.
The conferment of national hero status was announced last night by Zanu-PF national chairperson Cde Oppah Muchinguri-Kashiri at the family home.
Cde Muchinguri-Kashiri, who is also Defence and War Veterans Affairs Minister, said it had not taken long to come up with a decision to confer national hero status on Cde Mucheche whose contribution to the struggle was very clear.
“We have been sent by His Excellency, President Mnangagwa to convey his deepest condolences to the Mucheche family. He wanted us to tell you that Cde Mucheche was not only your son but a son of the whole nation who was hard working, trustworthy and full of love for everyone. After considering his contribution to the struggle, the President saw it fit to declare him a National Hero,” she said.
Cde Muchinguri-Kashiri chronicled the work done by Cde Mucheche as he played his part to uplift the lives of black people during the liberation war and after.
Cde Muchinguri-Kashiri said Cde Mucheche’s journey was very clear as he worked with leaders within the then nationalist movement.
“He was eager to make sure that black people’s lives were made easier during the war and he did this selflessly, regardless of the risk on his person. He was dedicated to helping the black people gain freedom as well as financial independence. We worked with him before and after independence and he would assist with transport and movement of information,” she added.
Cde Mucheche was the founder of the Indigenous Business Development Centre and owned the now defunct Mucheche bus company.
His son, Mr Ben Mucheche junior, expressed gratitude to the Government for recognising their father’s hard work and contribution to the country.
“As a family, we are grateful to Zanu-PF and President Mnangagwa for the honour bestowed on our father. National hero status is the highest honour which could have been given to him and we are thankful. We appreciate the work done by our father for his family and his country,” he said.
Mr Mucheche Jnr described his father as a hardworking man and one of the finest businesspeople who was always eager to help where he was needed.
He said Cde Mucheche had remained loyal to his country after independence until the time of his death.
Mashonaland East Zanu-PF provincial chairman Cde Daniel Garwe said Cde Mucheche had lived a long, full life and deserved to be celebrated.
“Of course we are pained that we lost someone who was always there with advice for us but we are celebrating the life that he lived. He played an important role in the history of our country from the days of the liberation war. I was one of those mujibhas who worked with him back then. He would send us clothes for the freedom fighters. Even in business, he taught us and guided us,” he said.
Cde Garwe said the provincial leadership was happy that Cde Mucheche had been bestowed the honour befitting such a man.
A teacher by profession, Cde Mucheche was the first person to establish a taxi rank at Machipisa Shopping Centre in Highfield, Harare, in 1956.
He worked with veteran nationalists among them former President Robert Mugabe, James Chikerema, Joshua Nkomo, George Nyandoro, Daniel Madzimbamuto and Edgar Tekere among others with the task of transporting the nationalists to meetings in Highfield in the cover of darkness. He also helped to transport food, clothes and telephones for communication.
In 1963, he gave his vehicle for use by the leadership of Zapu, which was however, confiscated by the Rhodesian government after the party was banned and sold at an auction.
He was at one time detained by the police for transporting recruited cadres to Mozambique but he resisted arrest.
After independence, Cde Mucheche offered his premises in Southerton to house all vehicles belonging to Zanu-PF since the party had no garage to keep its fleet.
He was the first black person to sit on the Reserve Bank board between 1975 and 1986.
Cde Mucheche led the African Business Organisation from 1973 to 1986 which to date is known as the Zimbabwe National Chamber of Commerce.
Cde Mucheche was also the chairperson of the Zimbabwe Rural Transport Organisation between 1976 and 2002.
He is survived by four wives, 24 children, 27 grandchildren and 57 great grandchildren.