Hon Shiri’s passing ‘a painful blow’ – Minister Mutsvangwa

INFORMATION, Publicity and Broadcasting Services Minister Senator Monica Mutsvangwa has joined Zimbabweans in mourning the passing of the Minister of Lands, Agriculture and Rural Resettlement, retired Air Marshall Perence Shiri.

Cde Shiri died this Wednesday morning.

Below is Senator Mutsvangwa’s statement in full;

Fellow Zimbabweans,

This morning, the nation suffered a great and painful blow. Zimbabwe lost Honourable Perence Shiri, the Minister of Lands, Agriculture and Rural Resettlement. He was also a long serving Air Marshall of the Air Force of Zimbabwe.

Cde Perence Shiri was an illustrious and gallant son of the soil who devoted his entire life from his teenage days to the armed struggle for the liberation of the motherland, its postwar reconstruction, integration and formation of its defence and security apparatus as well as playing a sterling role in sub regional SADC and Pan African solidarity and unity.

He has long been a shining beacon of the Samora Machel-Soweto Generation that was ready and committed to restoration of African military pride in the defence of the people.

The universally acknowledged professional conduct of the Zimbabwe Defence Forces owes so much to the patriotic valour, the indomitable bravery and the question for professional integrity of Comrade Perence Shiri.

Comrade Shiri abandoned his secondary school studies in Wedza in 1974 to seek guerrilla military training and arms in Tanzania, the bastion base of the militant national liberation movement. He was inspired by the ongoing ZANLA battles in the North East Zimbabwe.

Comrade Shiri trained at Mgagau. He would be among the intrepid ZANLA fighters that shunted aside squabbling and drone-like nationalists. The youthful fighters instead opted to focus solely and squarely on prosecuting the armed struggle to dislodge the racist Rhodesian settler minority regime from power they had usurped by force as of 1890.

In 1975, the war re-started in Mozambique. The Mgagau ZANLA cadres and their ZIPRA counterparts began prosecuting the armed struggle on a 1000km long military front marked by camouflaging mountains and forests. No more hindrance from the mighty Zambezi River as a physical military barrier.

In 1977 Comrade Shiri was deployed to the war front in charge of Tete Military Province as Provincial Commander and member of the ZANLA High Command.

As field commander he exhibited exceptional military flair in this cradle of the Zimbabwe People’s War. Among the many highlights of his, were the guerrilla charges under his command and the gunning down of an irreverent British peer, Lord Richard Cecil in Rhodesia.

Comrade Shiri was tasked with training urban guerrilla commandos from those of ZANLA that had an urban background. By December 1978, his chargers had set ablaze fuel tanks in Salisbury. This act of exceptional valour would witness pictures of a demoralized and dejected Ian Smith.

1979 saw Comrade Shiri as a peace builder. With fellow Patriotic Front guerrillas they outmanouvred the diehard among the defeated Rhodesian racist army. The Lancaster House Armistice was secured all the way to elections and freedom in 1980.

Comrade Shiri was also the inner core of the troop integration exercise that gave birth to Zimbabwe Defence Forces and helped inculcate its much admired discipline and professionalism.

From the ashes of the sabotaged Zimbabwe Airforce at Thornhill Air Base, Comrade Shiri helped rebuilt the new national Airforce. Its pedigree would later prove a boon in training and restructuring of the South African Airforce. Along the way solid dying strong sub regional bonds.

Comrade Shiri earned more battlefield medals from the Mozambique campaign as our army returned to the neighbour nation. Apartheid South African aggression had become deadly menacing.

In 1998 the venerable general Comrade Shiri was back in action. This time he would emerge the much adulated hero of Kinshasa, the sprawling capital of DR Congo. With 1000 paratroopers he routed a 10000 troop column of combined Rwandese and Ugandan forces bent on overthrowing President Laurent Kabila Senior.

Internally, he worked on recovering our stolen lands together with other war veterans. He helped push back the Regime Change agenda of the last two decades. Operation Restore Legacy of November 2017 thwarted G40s from seizing power and steadied the Zimbabwe Revolution.

Lately the hardworking Comrade Shiri was leaving no stone unturned to restore national agriculture to optimal production. He was committing every ounce of his energy to the great cause of national food security and revival of exports. He was reaching out to erstwhile white commercial farmers, negotiating compensation and promoting the great Pvumvudza Project.

His dedication and unwavering commitment to this country was unquestionable.

In recent years, Cde Shiri traded his military fatigues for a new uniform, the green farmers’ overalls, as he strived on boosting agricultural productivity in Zimbabwe. Indeed, he was a true son of the soil.
On behalf of myself and the Government, my condolences go to the family of our dearly departed Cde Shiri and to the nation. Words cannot express our sorrow, as to our comrade and brother, Go Well Gudo Guru.

Honourable M. Mutsvangwa (Senator)
Minister of Information, Publicity and Broadcasting Services

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