Brig-Gen Mabenge dies, declared national hero

War veteran and Zimbabwe National Army Brigadier-General Benjamin Mabenge (Retired) has died.

The liberation fighter died in Harare yesterday at a local hospital and has since been declared a national hero, in recognition of his contribution before and after independence.

Brig-Gen Mabenge, whose Chimurenga name was Cde Freddie Matanga, will be buried at the National Heroes Acre tomorrow.

His body is expected to be flown this morning to his farm in Kwekwe, before it returns later in the day for burial the following day.

The message of his national hero status was conveyed to family members last night by Defence and War Veterans Minister, Oppah Muchinguri-Kashiri, who was accompanied by Home Affairs and Cultural Heritage Minister Kazembe Kazembe.

Minister Muchinguri, who is also Zanu PF national chairman, said she had been sent by President Mnangagwa to convey the highest honour bestowed on Brig-Gen Mabenge following the immense contribution he made during the liberation struggle.

“We have been sent to you as a family by the President who is also the First Secretary of our party Zanu PF to convey his, the party and Government’s condolence on the loss of Cde Matanga. He dedicated himself to join the family of Zanu PF, so we are equally in mourning together with you,” said Minister Muchinguri-Kashiri.

Minister Muchinguri-Kashiri said Brig-Gen Mabenge was renowned for his bravery, resentment to corruption and principled from the time he went to Zambia in 1994 to join the liberation struggle. “The President and the Government have said he should be buried alongside his colleagues at the National Heroes Acre,” she said.

Brig-Gen Mabenge, said Minister Muchinguri-Kashiri, went to Tanzania for training, and Chimoio in Mozambique where he was deployed.

“He was forthright and frank. Upon his return at independence, he joined the Zimbabwe National Army where he rose to become a Brigadier General. He was a fountain of wisdom, he fought for us to be a sovereign country. He was an exemplary leader,” said Minister Muchinguri-Kashiri.

“The President is saying as Government, we are indebted to the Mabenge family who gave us their son. He has a rich history. Some in our midst are cowards, we now want the return of our erstwhile colonisers to rule us,” said Minister Muchinguri-Kashiri.

Speaking on behalf of the family, the deceased’s son, Mr Aleck Mabenge, thanked the Government for the honour conferred to their father.

“Can you convey our indebtedness to the Government and the President. We want to acknowledge the support we have been getting during our father’s illness,” he said.

Born on August 6, 1954 at Runde Clinic under Chief Mazvihwa, in Zvishavane district, Brig-Gen Mabenge went to Copper Queen Primary School.

He later went to Zambia and received military training at Mgagao in Tanzania, and Mozambique between 1974 and 1981.

In 1976, he became Zanla General Staff (Special Task) as Political Commissar for Tangwena sector, Manica province.

In 1976, he was in the Zanla High Command as Field Operational Commander in Gaza and between 1979, up to 1981 he was Zanu PF Chief Representative to the Middle East, based in Damascus, Syria.

After independence, he resumed his educational studies through correspondence with Rapid Results College.

He later acquired a Diploma in Business with the Professional Institute of Administration and Commerce of Southern Africa as well as the Sales and Modern Marketing Management with Transworld Tutorial College, and other courses with the Zimbabwe Defence Staff College.

Brig-Gen Mabenge later became a board member of the Zimbabwe Defence Forces Services Commission from 2014 to 2019, board member for Zimbabwe Broadcasting Corporation from 2010 to 2014 and deputy general manager for Anjin Diamond Mining Company between 2010 and 2013, among other companies he served.

He also held different portfolios in Zanu PF.

Brig-Gen Mabenge is survived by wife, Rosegema Mabenge, and six children and 10 grandchildren.

Mourners are gathered at Subdivision 1 Woodlands, Kwekwe and at number 12 Catalina Road, in Belvedere, Harare. Herald

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