President Mnangagwa yesterday conferred national hero status on Ambassador Johannes Tomana, and explained that events leading to his death were symbolic in that they suggested a premonition of his passing on.
He said Amb Tomana travelled to his rural home in Honde Valley, Manicaland Province, despite mild illness to lay a wreath on his parents’ grave and later called upon his church members to come and pray for him, something he said showed that he was preparing for his death.
President Mnangagwa said this yesterday while addressing mourners at the residence of Amb Tomana where he and Vice President Dr Constantino Chiwenga and ZANU PF Vice President and Second Secretary Cde Kembo Mohadi, had gone to convey their condolences.
After listening to a heart-wrenching narration by Amb Tomana’s son, Ricky, on how his father died at their rural home, President Mnangagwa described the events as symbolic.
“The explanation that has been given to us, shows he was doing things that were necessary before he died; he had a premonition of his death,” said President Mnangagwa.
“All that he did, putting flowers for his parents, it’s highly symbolic to say to parents I respect you, but am now on my way to follow you. Yes, he was forcing himself (because of ill-health) but these are things that he felt he ought to do.
“When he asked for prayers, the meaning would be different if other people were the ones proposing to pray for him but in this instance, it was him who was saying he needs prayers. Even if it comes to me, I won’t be wiser than Tomana. If the day has come, no one will stop it.”
President Mnangagwa said Amb Tomana picked up enemies along the way for his political beliefs, resulting in several false allegations raised against him and even lost his job as Prosecutor General.
“Our work is politics and not a church organisation. Politics is uniform everywhere even in other countries, I will not explain a lot, save to say I worked with him and elevated him. He was expelled from work after that happened and he came to me and told me what he had gone through and asked me if we can do something for him since he was now staying at home.
“I asked for his suggestion and he said he was no longer happy with working in the country; that is why I appointed him Ambassador to the DRC. We worked very well. We used to call each other, briefing me about the situation in that country.
“We then sat down with party leadership; there are those who lied against him, some of whom are now deceased. But all that is now water under the bridge, we will not speak ill of deceased persons. We have conferred him with national hero status. It is us who know why we are interring him at the National Heroes Acre,” said President Mnangagwa.
He said he last saw Amb Tomana when he visited the Johanne Marange Apostolic Sect for their Passover where he was now a member.
The President said he knew Amb Tomana, together with his wife Daphne, for 17 years, since they were in the same profession as lawyers just like him, given that he was Minister of Justice, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs for a long time.
Amb Tomana, said President Mnangagwa, was the one who suggested the separation of the Attorney General’s Office and that of Prosecutor General.
He said he was shocked when he heard about Amb Tomana’s death last Sunday from VP Chiwenga, while he was at his farm in Kwekwe.
“On Sunday I woke up in the morning from Kwekwe. My mobile phone rang and it was VP Chiwenga. He knows that I do not usually receive calls on Sundays because I will be busy at the farm. He then started skirting around, talking about other issues, until he got to the point,” said President Mnangagwa.
He said they eventually directed that a helicopter should ferry Amb Tomana’s remains from Honde Valley back to Harare.
Earlier on, VP Chiwenga said he interacted with Amb Tomana several times.
“We worked well with him for a long time in Government. I first knew him as an Attorney General; I used to have his number for both at home, even DRC. On Sunday I wanted to go to church and I received a call while at home preparing to go to church.
“When I saw the name of the number calling written Tomana, I jokingly asked ‘why are you around when you are supposed to be in the DRC’ but to my surprise the person at the end was mourning. He then delivered the message of Amb Tomana’s death.
“The only person I managed to call was the President. When I called, the President uncharacteristically swiftly responded to my call. He usually takes long to respond and sometimes returns calls later. We are struggling to accept the loss, but it is God’s work,” said VP Chiwenga.
Narrating how his father died, Ricky said they set out to go to the rural home in Manicaland but Amb Tomana appeared unwell.
“We left Harare on Wednesday, but before leaving, he vomited and we asked if everything was right and he complained about weak joints and I asked if it was possible to proceed with the journey (but) he said let’s go. On our way, we would ask him to eat but he would refuse just asking for water saying it would stabilise him.
“Upon arrival, he laid wreaths on graves of both parents and proceeded to sleep at Honde Valley. He ate a small portion,” said Ricky.
He said they then left for Chipinge for another ceremony with relatives, but along the way, Amb Tomana vomited again.
“We saw through the unveiling process (of tombstones); the only food he ate was mahewu, which we were taking together. On Saturday, he said we cannot return to Harare and he suggested that we put up at Honde Valley and we would resume our journey the following day; after all it was now Sabbath.
“As we slept, he got weaker and started breathing heavily until he died early Sunday morning,” said Ricky.
Defence and War Veterans Affairs Minister Oppah Muchinguri-Kashiri, Foreign Affairs and International Trade Minister, Ambassador Frederick Shava, senior Government and Zanu PF officials also joined church members, relatives and friends to pay their condolences.
Amb Tomana was born on September 9, 1967.