HARARE – The late health advisor to the President and Cabinet Timothy Stamps passed away on Sunday at the age of 81, but his months-long battle with a stroke and broken neck showed how tough the fight was — and how unusual it is for people to survive with these ailments for long.
His son narrated at his memorial at the Celebration Centre yesterday how he struggled with slurred and long speeches and failed to attend family weddings and funerals.
The former Health minister eventually succumbed to a lung infection. He was declared a national hero. The family passed an opportunity to have him interred in a royal burial ground at the National Heroes Acre.
He asked to be cremated so that his ashes could be kept by his beloved family. He reportedly left precise instructions about the kind of funeral he wanted.
It is understood that he told his family he did not want to be buried. His family respected his wishes to be cremated, and a private funeral service.
“Dad had a stroke in 2001 but he continued to serve the people in a mildly handicapped state, his mind still as sharp as ever,” Stamps’ son Kenyon said.
“He spent more time with us as a family to which we are really blessed…
“We remember that this extra handicap later frustrated him, because he was not able to do what he was used to, and sometimes he struggled with long speeches.”
He said in 2008, his government salary could only buy him two loaves of bread a month.
“During my visit from university, we used to have one meal a day of home grown potatoes. Despite the economic challenges of the time, he continued to forge a way forward, the best he could to serve the people of Zimbabwe.
“… he failed to attend two daughters’ weddings and a daughter-in-law’s funeral and also restricted us children from studying in the United Kingdom. Despite this, he continued with a stubborn resolve to serve the people of Zimbabwe.
“In 2015 he broke his neck for the second time in his life, which confined him to a wheelchair but still continued to serve Zimbabwe.
“At times he would be ill but nevertheless going to the office as he did. Through this whole time he used to invite us his family over for lunch every Sunday.”
Stamps’ other son Talfan said during the last two months, the former Health minister hated how his poor health restricted him to his home.
“He hated his last months unable to see anyone. Dad was incorruptible, even in 2008 when his salary could not even pay school fees for one child. He would not even change $1 on the black market,” he said.
World Health Organisation country representative David Okello gave credit to Stamps over the establishment of a WHO regional office in Zimbabwe.
Stamps was an advisor for many government programmes including national disability issues.