Celebrating sacrifice. . . two heroes set for burial

Herald Reporter

Thousands of people are expected to attend Heroes Day celebrations at various heroes’ acres across the country today, with the main celebrations at the National Heroes Acre in Harare where there will be a double burial of national heroes Cde Johannes Tomana and Brigadier General (Retired) Milton Siziba.

This will be the fourth double burial at the National Heroes Acre in recent years following that of Manicaland Provincial Affairs and Devolution Minister Dr Ellen Gwaradzimba and Zanu PF Central Committee member Cde Moton Dizzy Paul Malianga on January 21, 2021.

On April 13, 2016, Cdes Victoria Chitepo and Vivian Mwashita were interred at the National Heroes Acre on the same day, while Cde Maud Muzenda, the widow of Vice President Simon Muzenda, and Cde George Rutanhire were also buried in a double burial on August 26, 2017.

Ambassador Tomana died on August 6 at the age of 55, while Brig-Gen died on August 1 at age 71.

Both ceremonies will be led by President Mnangagwa, who is also expected to headline the Defence Forces Day tomorrow at the National Sports Stadium.

Brig-Gen Siziba succumbed to shortness of breath at his house in Northville, Bulawayo, while Ambassador Tomana died after complaining of stomach pain after visiting his rural home.

The body of Brig-Gen Siziba arrived at Manyame Airbase in Harare yesterday afternoon and was taken to the Charles Gumbo Barracks where it lay in state ahead of today’s burial.

Ambassador Tomana’s body lay in state at his Harare home.

In an interview at Manyame Airbase yesterday, Zanu PF Politburo member Colonel (Retired) Tshinga Dube thanked President Mnangagwa for according Brig Gen Siziba national hero status.

“He was an officer who highly motivated others. He was born in 1951 and trained as an officer cadet at Khatima in Zambia and began his command career from there,” said Col (Rtd) Dube.

“He was a commander of a battalion and became a logistics officer. When we came home in 1980, he joined the ZNA and rose through the ranks until he became a Brigadier General.

“We are very delighted that the President chose to give him this status; we are very proud of him. He was a decent officer and worked very well before and after independence.”

Brig Gen Siziba was born on November 14, 1951 in Matobo District of Matabeleland South.

He received military training at Khatima Barrack in Zambia and was later deployed to Maheba, where he was tasked with the formation of regular battalions.

He also worked as a detachment commander and chief of personnel in the ZIPRA forces.

After independence, he was deployed to the Entumbane Assembly Point, before he was attested into the Zimbabwe National Army (ZNA) on January 31, 1981.

He served in the ZNA and the Zimbabwe Prisons Service, now Zimbabwe Prisons and Correctional Services (ZPCS).

In respect of Ambassador Tomana, hundreds of people from Mashonaland West Province attended the farewell ceremony for him at his Maryland Farm in Zvimba. 

National hero Ambassador Johannes Tomana’s body lies in state at the family home in Glen Lorne yesterday

Ambassador Tomana was a renowned farmer in the province who contributed immensely to tobacco.

He also produced other crops.

Mashonaland West Minister of State for Provincial Affairs and Devolution Mary Mliswa-Chikoka, who was the chief mourner, presided over the ceremony.

Minister Mliswa-Chikoka said the Third Chimurenga launched in the year 2000 became a success because of Ambassador Tomana’s contribution.

“Today, we pride ourselves in having land as a result of his legal contributions, fulfilling the desires of living and fallen war veterans. The President saw it fit to give him a befitting status (of national hero).

“As a province, we want to thank the President and I want to call upon people in Mashonaland West to safeguard the land by voting for Zanu PF,” she said. 

Addressing mourners at Ambassador Tomana’s farmhouse, Justice, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs Minister Ziyambi Ziyambi said: “During the Land Reform Programme, he defended the Government’s call for repossession of land to correct social injustices.”

In separate interviews after the farewell ceremony neighbouring farmers, ZANU PF officials, and relatives spoke highly of Ambassador Tomana.

A nearby farmer, Cde Zandile Maseko, said: “We are at a loss for words. The death of Cde Tomana is a huge blow to farmers around the Trelawney area as he used to help us a lot. I have known him since 2005.”

Chegutu West legislator, Cde Dexter Nduna, said Ambassador Tomana was always on the ground defending the country’s laws.

The body of the former Attorney-General and Prosecutor-General, was then taken back to Harare.

Another memorial service had been held for Ambassador Tomana on Saturday at St Mathias Tsonzo High School in Mutasa District, where he did his secondary education.

Ambassador Tomana, a lawyer by training, was born on September 9, 1967.

In 2005, he was appointed one of the commissioners of the Zimbabwe Anti-Corruption Commission before he was appointed Attorney-General in 2008, where he performed the dual role of leading the prosecution department and acting as Government’s legal adviser.

The AG’s Office was later split into two under the 2013 Constitution, with Ambassador Tomana assuming the role of Prosecutor-General.

In 2010, his role in Government saw him being sanctioned by the United States.

In September 2020, he was appointed into the diplomatic service, and was Zimbabwe’s Ambassador to the Democratic Republic of Congo, a post he held until his untimely death.

This year’s Heroes Day commemorations will be held under the theme, “Remembering our heroes – Nyika inovakwa nevene vayo/ Ilizwe lakhiwa ngabanikazi balo”.

Ministry of Home Affairs and Cultural Heritage spokesperson Mr Philemon Chiripanyanga said everything was in place for today’s ceremonies.

President Mnangagwa’s Heroes Day speech will be read at all provincial and district gatherings throughout the country.

 “The programme will start at 7am when gates are opened and members of the public are expected to have taken their seats by 8am,” said Mr Chiripanyanga.

President Mnangagwa is expected to arrive at 9:45am.

Positive Eye

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