HARARE – In what is turning out to be a bad month for Zanu PF, another key figure for the ruling party George Rutanhire passed on yesterday.
Rutanhire’s death comes hard on the heels of the passing on of minister of State for Masvingo Province Shuvai Mahofa and also at a time when the nation is grappling with the alleged poisoning of Vice President Emmerson Mnangagwa while also trying to come to terms with the diplomatic storm that was caused by First Lady Grace Mugabe when she allegedly beat up a young woman in South Africa, recently.
Rutanhire, a veteran of the country’s liberation struggle, who has been a key figure of the ruling party in Mashonaland Central province and also a politburo member, passed on in the early hours of yesterday.
Mashonaland Central minister of State for Provincial Affairs Martin Dinha confirmed to the Daily News on Sunday Rutanhire’s death and indicated that they will request for his conferment with national war hero status, the highest honour in the land, hitherto a preserve for Zanu PF loyalists.
“We have received the sad news of the passing on of…George Rutanhire at Karanda Hospital in Mt Darwin in the early hours of today with shock and disbelief. He has been unwell for some time and we are advised by his wife that he succumbed to renal failure .
“On behalf of Mashonaland Central Province I wish to convey my deepest condolences and sorrow to the Rutanhire family and the whole nation of Zimbabwe at the untimely death of this gallant and heroic son of the soil. Undoubtedly the province will be making a request to the party and government for conferment of a befitting hero status. His heroism and selfless dedication to the liberation of Zimbawe and post independent contribution is without doubt, illustrious. We grieve at this great loss as we still have fresh tears and are we mourning yet another daughter of the soil Shuvai Ben Mahofa. Cde Rutanhire was an animator and composer of revolutionary songs, a charismatic commissar and ideologist who the party had rightly chosen to lead the Chitepo Ideological College. As minister of State for Provincial Affairs I shared a lot with him and he gave me invaluable lessons and advice and at one time him and his wife saved me from imminent death after some people had conspired to poison me at a function in Mt Darwin. I am personally pained by his death,” said Dinha.
However, like most Zanu PF officials, Rutanhire was not without enemies.
Early this year, he ruffled a few feathers when he claimed that former vice president Joice Mujuru, who now leads the National People’s Party (NPP) was a sex monger during the war who caused the death of many war veterans, allegedly because of her sexual indiscretions.
Rutanhire, who was at one time a legislator for Mt Darwin and a deputy minister was set to head the Chitepo Ideological College, and in the past was at the forefront of exhumations of what were claimed to be former freedom fighters buried in mass graves.
He was a rather willing tool for Zanu PF and was often used as a propaganda fool to set the “record straight” by the ruling party apologists, often popping up to defend President Robert Mugabe’s role during the liberation struggle.