By ZBC Reporter
PRESIDENT Emmerson Mnangagwa says he has learnt with “utter shock and a deep sense of grief” of the passing of Lands, Agriculture, Water and Rural Resettlement Air Marshall (Rtd) Perence Shiri.
Cde Shiri, a veteran of the country’s liberation struggle and, post-independence, the second indigenous commander of the Airforce of Zimbabwe, died in Harare Wednesday morning after a short illness.
“A stalwart of our war of national liberation, Cde Shiri ranked high among our leading Zanla field commanders whose contribution to the liberation struggle was simply valiant and outstanding,” President Mnangagwa said in his condolence message.
Cde Shiri joined the war for independence at very tender age when he, together with current Vice President General (Rtd) Constantino Chiwenga, abandoned studies at Mount Saint Mary’s Mission in Wedza in 1973.
Once fully trained, Cde Shiri rose through the ranks to become overall commander of Tete province, “one of the hottest fronts” during the war.
“Under his command, several spectacular missions against the enemy were carried out, among them the 1978 blasting of oil tanks in then then Salisbury, itself the heart and citadel of settler power,” President Mnangagwa said.
“Indeed that military action which was undertaken by a specialised ZANLA unit which he mentored, reverberated well beyond the immediate theatre of war, and proved a turning point in our struggle for national liberation.”
After independence, Cde Shiri continued to serving his country in the military, playing a key role in the integration of the former warring forces and moulding a new professional and cohesive army for the independent Zimbabwe.
Cde Shiri also played a key role in revamping the country’s food sector “by ensuring that farmers were mobilised, motivated and supported to mechanise, modernise and climate-proof” the country’s agriculture sector “for sustainable national food security”.
“I wish to express my heartfelt condolences to the entire Shiri family, especially the children who now stand orphaned,” President Mnangagwa said.
“As they go through the painful motions of deep grief, I urge them to find comfort and solace in the distinguished role and career of continuous service which their father gave to his country.
“He remains our hero together, making his demise a blow we all keenly feel and share.”