Zim mourns loved msipa

HARARE - In rare, heartfelt tributes to a departed local politician, Zimbabweans from across the country’s political and social divides united in praising much-respected Zanu PF elder Cephas Msipa, who died in Harare early yesterday morning on a tragic day for his family which also reported the death of his grandson in London.

The former Midlands governor was not only one of the few Zanu PF stalwarts to ever voluntarily retire from active politics, he was also probably the remaining voice of reason within the burning ruling party who could openly, and genuinely too, rebuke President Robert Mugabe.

Msipa, 85, had been in and out of hospital in recent months, before his death at the West End Clinic in the capital. And most dreadfully for his family, they learnt later in the day that his grandson, Lloyd Msipa Junior, had been found dead at his university residence in the UK.

In an emotional tribute, opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai’s MDC described Msipa as “a selfless hero”, who was not afraid to speak against all ills and Zanu PF’s misrule.

“He was a candid, fearless and straight-talking nationalist who was always ready to denounce such evils like tribalism, racism, corruption and sexism. Up until the time of his death, the late Msipa was vociferously speaking out against the excesses of political violence and intolerance.

“He was unwavering and solid as a rock when it comes to matters to do with patriotism, honesty, integrity, accountability and transparency. He relentlessly spoke against the emerging trend of rampant corruption, particularly amongst the ruling elite.

“As the nation mourns the sad passing on of a true and honest nationalist, the MDC would like the entire nation to take note of the virtues of selflessness and tolerance which epitomised the life of the late Cephas Msipa,” said party spokesperson Obert Gutu.

Former Zanu PF spokesperson and Msipa’s longtime friend, Rugare Gumbo, was also among the hordes who led tributes to the much-loved ruling party elder, whose death occurred at a time that he was trying to persuade 92-year-old Mugabe to follow his lead and retire in his own interest, that of his family and the nation.

“He was forthright and the one inimitable quality he had was that he criticised everyone he deemed to have lost direction. He was also a peacemaker who was instrumental in bringing about the Unity Accord between Zanu and Zapu in 1987.

“His criticism of Mugabe and Zanu PF did not start recently as many think. He had always been like that and at one point told Mugabe during a politburo meeting that he needed to listen to the people. He would always ask questions like ‘Is this what we fought for?’” the heart-broken Gumbo said.

Former State Security minister and close Mugabe confidante for decades, Didymus Mutasa, also described Msipa as “an honest man who contributed a lot to the country’s well-being before and after independence”.

“One can’t wish for a better man. I knew him and his family very well and his passing on is the end of an era,” he told the Daily News.

Former Finance minister and now leader of the opposition People’s Democratic Party (PDP), Tendai Biti, said the death of the veteran nationalist was a big blow to Zimbabwe.

“The departure of Cephas Msipa will create a hole that will never be filled. He was a principled man who lived a consistent life. Go well Tata,” he tweeted on microblogging site Twitter.

Before Zimbabwe’s independence, Msipa led the Rhodesia African Teachers Association, leading to his arrest and detention at Gonakudzingwa and Whawha camps before he went into exile in 1974 as a senior Zapu official.

After independence, he worked in government, first as deputy minister of Youth, Sport and Recreation and later as minister of Water Resources and Development, before he became Midlands governor.

Speaking in an exclusive interview with the Daily News earlier this year, the much-respected Msipa said Mugabe’s 56 years in politics were long enough for a “normal human being to hang the boots”.

“My serious advice to him (Mugabe) is that he should rest now, as he has done so much for the country,” the once close friend of Mugabe of many decades said, adding that the nonagenarian — who is the only leader that Zimbabweans have had for the past 36 years — cannot rest after death.

“In a way, he has done a lot for this country, and really in all fairness we are punishing him. When will he rest, when he is dead?” he asked rhetorically.

“I feel sorry for him as a friend. I think he must just be given time to rest. We live in this world for a much shorter period than we realise. He really needs a rest. A race is run up to a certain point and there comes a point when you must rest.

“It’s good for him, good for his family and good for the party. We need new ideas. These can only come with leadership renewal. I would like him to rest,” the concerned Msipa emphasised repeatedly.

He also challenged some Zanu PF hardliners who were advocating for the nonagenarian’s further stay in power to be “human and stop punishing” him.

“We should all feel sorry for him. We are punishing him. Those who are saying he should continue, we don’t seem to care about him. I know some people want him to stay for their own protection.

“I also know some of them feel he is protecting them. He gave them certain positions and so they are afraid that if he goes they will lose those positions. It’s unfair for us to punish a man for all this time. Let him sit back and watch. It’s very important after all that hard work,” Msipa said.

“If it was to become possible for me to meet him, I would convince him to rest. I am talking about retiring. I am saying he has worked so hard, so much that he needs to rest now.

“There will be no other time except now. He can’t rest after death of course. They call that rest in peace, but I don’t know what that means,” he added.

Msipa also revealed at the time just before he left active politics that he had asked Mugabe to retire, an offer that was turned down.

“I went to see Mugabe with my two sons where I told him to retire. He told me that in politics you don’t retire, but that you rather die there. That’s his philosophy.

“So in a way he seems to be enjoying the position, but he must also think of rest, because he is punishing himself physically. We are all human beings and the fire in us burns out and you can’t go on trying to keep putting on some light when it’s burning out,” he said.

In his last interview with the Daily News in August this year, Msipa, also advised Mugabe and the ruling party to listen to the growing voices of dissent in the country, warning that failure to do so would be tantamount to negating the values of the country’s liberation struggle which cost the lives of so many Zimbabweans.

Reflecting on Heroes’ Day commemorations at the time, Msipa — who affectionately calls Mugabe “muzukuru wangu” (my nephew) — said his heart bled each time he was confronted by the grinding poverty afflicting the majority of Zimbabweans, which had seen many people turning to street vending to survive.

Msipa spoke as Mugabe and Zanu PF were facing their biggest challenges since they came to power in April 1980, with the ruling party torn apart by its seemingly unstoppable factional and succession wars, and the nonagenarian facing growing citizen unrest and calls from both within the former liberation movement and without to step down.

“When I move around in Harare, Bulawayo or Gweru people always ask me whether what is happening in the country is what we fought for. Indeed, is this what we suffered for? The fact that people are asking those questions tells me that something has gone wrong.

“I look around and see all these protests and I ask what is happening? Is this what we fought for?

“We were fighting for peace, harmony and prosperity but as it is people are getting poorer by the day. There is grinding poverty all over and that is why people are now demanding answers,” Msipa said with a tinge of regret in his voice.

Comments (12)

RIP A TRUE GALLANT AND ILLUSTRIOUS BSON OF THE SOIL. Cde Msipa was a selfless and honest cadre. Our DILEMMA IS WE ARE LEFT WITH VERY SELFISH AND HYPOCRITICAL PEOPLE WHO CANNOT TELL THE PRESIDENT THE TRUTH ON THE GROUND.A good friend tells you the truth no matter how hating it could be.

Aluta Continua - 18 October 2016

REST IN PEACE TATA. You have run a successful race indeed. You were a revolutionary, corporate leader, politician of the highest order, statesman, peace maker and loving father and grandfather. You tried your best. RIP

Chamu Kumadiro - 18 October 2016

my hearty bleeds with sorrow as i write this article.rest in peace ,FATHER OF THE PEOPLE.we the people of ZVISHAVANE,MIDLANDS AND ZIMBABWE at large we have been robbed.he was an illustrious son of the soil.he loved every body despite your ethnic background,despite your party affiliation,he did not segregate anyone.we thank the PRESIDENT and the ruling party , ZANU PF for the bold declaration of hero status to cde MSIPA.WE WILL miss you Tata.Tasara nemwi va MUNANGAGWA ku Midlands,ku ZVISHAVANE UKO,Tinoda ku berekwa nemi ndimi masara mune musana wakati simbei,titendereiwo kunava Gushungo nekukudza mwana wevhu.

vivazim - 18 October 2016

Real Patriot indeed! We salute you vaMsipa. You were one in millions! RIP grant dad.

Manje so - 18 October 2016

l salute u Tata. makrwa, asi vamaiva navo ndidzo mbwende dzisingadi/dzinotya kupa vamwe chimuti nekuti inhaka yemusiiranwa iyi. ZORORAI MURUGARE MUKURU

munyimi - 18 October 2016

A hero above the rest

CDE - 18 October 2016

State House is his refuge.With massive human rights abuses throughout these last three and a half decades,one expects him to hang his boots as simple as all that.Never.He can't imagine himself one day being asked to account for genocide in Mat and Midlands provinces and other abuses unknown to the public.So would rather get out of State House in a coffin.

Gen. Spinola - 18 October 2016

We appeciate the role played by Msipa in national politics and his speaking the truth without fear or favour.

Bonganilishe - 19 October 2016

Cephas Msipa is one person who looked at everyone as a zimbabwean irrespective of your social background, political background, religious background, whatever backgroung. When he was governor of midlands province, you could mistake his office at the government complex as a clinic or social welfare office or an employment labour office. He would come out of his office to check how many people where seated in the reception area who had come to see him. He would request to give priority to people who would have travelled from the rural areas clutching their bags. He was just and simply a wonderful man. Anybody who thinks he was very special to Cephas Msipa is terribly mistaken because Msipa paid attention to evreyone regardless of you social status. He stood in the bank que at Agribank, he stood in the que at the ATM, he stood in the que at Spar, everywhere it was "Mdhara makadii, Chitowa makadii, Shef makadii" He was a great man of the people.

tatenda - 19 October 2016

Ode to a fallen hero Cephas Msipa, a true gallant and revolutionary son of Zimbabwe. You will forever epitomize the cherished principles and values that drove our liberation struggle and quest for independence. You stood firm and resolute as most of the cadres around you floundered and succumbed to vice and avarice. That you remained so true and committed to the revolution will be your most enduring legacy that will motivate those who come after you to strive to fulfill the goals and ideals of freedom and peace that you espoused so eloquently, consistently and fearlessly. Go well Comrade you can rest in eternal peace in the contentment that you are a shining beacon and stand head and shoulders above many of your contemporaries as well as peers. You will always be remembered and revered, remain a perpetual fountain of inspiration and a moral as well as political compass for many generations to come. Let everyone read your book and thoughts about Zimbabwe and I pray one day we will find a way to immortalize you in the annals of our history.

Jaikolu Maison - 19 October 2016

Cephas Mkwenyana wami one sure fact is you are irreplaceable.Gone is that hive of wisdom and knowledge. Those of us who knew you from way back will cherish the legasy you have left behind.Rest in peace beloved fighter. MBM

MASALA BAXTER MASUKU Revd.Dr. - 19 October 2016

A complete salute to a real nationalist, and a friend.

ted morse - 20 October 2016

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