Mnangagwa declares loyalists national heroes

The late Joel Biggie Matiza

HARARE – The late Transport and Infrastructural Development minister, Joel Biggie Matiza and former Zimbabwe Prisons& Correctional Services Commissioner General, Major General (Rtd) Paradzai Zimondi have been declared national heroes.

The Minister of Defence and War Veterans Affairs who is also Zanu-PF National Chair, Oppah Muchinguri, delivered the declarations to the families first at the late Major Gen. (Rtd) Zimondi’s Umwinsdale residence.

From the Zimondi residence, Muchinguri Kashiri proceeded to Borrowdale where she also delivered President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s letter of national hero status to the Matiza family.

“The president says I am bleeding, we have lost a gallant son of the soil, a brace, trustworthy and loyal cadre who worked tirelessly for the nation that’s why we saw it befitting to bestow this status to him,” said Muchinguri.

Family spokesperson Mr George Chifamba expressed gratitude to government for honouring Dr Matiza.

“We want to thank you for this honour, we gave you our son and you groomed him well and for that we are grateful,” he said.

Burial arrangements for Major General Retired Paradzai Zimondi and Dr Joel Biggie Matiza will be announced in due course.

An architect by profession, Dr Joel Biggie Matiza played a pivotal role in the infrastructure development of the country and was part of the brains behind the construction of the Joshua Mqabuko Nkomo airport, the Victoria Falls airport and the Robert Gabriel Mugabe International Airport.

Matiza succumbed to Covid-19 on Friday evening at St Annes Hospital in Harare becoming the fourth Cabinet minister to die from the respiratory disease.

Born on August 17, 1960 in Murehwa, Matiza was Murehwa South House of Assembly member and his previous portfolios in Government include being Minister of State for Mashonaland East Province.

At the time of his death, he was also a Zanu PF Central Committee member and Mashonaland East Provincial Chairperson.

Minister Matiza joined the liberation struggle in 1977 as a Zimbabwe African People’s Revolutionary Army (Zipra) cadre.

He attended local schools before going to Nigeria for his tertiary education, graduating with a BSc Hons degree in Architecture and an MSc degree in Architecture from Ahmadu Bello University.

He graduated with a Doctorate in Business Administration (DBA) from the Binary University of Management and Entrepreneurship, Malaysia, in collaboration with Chinhoyi University of Technology on December 15 last year.

During his tenure in Government under President Mnangagwa’s administration, Minister Matiza pushed for the rehabilitation of roads in the country using local resources and entrusted local companies to undertake the work.

During his tenure, the Government embarked on massive road rehabilitation projects of varying magnitudes in every constituency.

President Mnangagwa commissioned the completed stretches of the Harare-Masvingo-Beitbridge highway under Phase One of the rehabilitation programme which involves upgrading and widening of the road.

This is one of the major infrastructure development projects post-independence which is expected to stretch all the way to Chirundu on the border with Zambia.

Major General (Rtd) Zimondi, who also succumbed to Covid-19, retired as ZPCS Comm-Gen in November last year after 22 years of service, which began in 1998 when he was 51.

Maj-Gen Zimondi was born on 4 March 1947. He joined the Zimbabwe Prison Services as a Deputy Commissioner in 1997 and in July of the same year, undertook a study of British, Danish and Swedish prison systems.

In 1998, he was appointed Acting Commissioner following the retirement of Mr Langton Chigwida the previous year.

Mr Chigwida had been at the helm of the prison service since 1984. Maj-Gen Zimondi was appointed as substantive commissioner on April 1, 1998.

He joined the liberation struggle and received military training at Mgagao Training Camp, Tanzania, in 1974 and was posted to Chimoio, Mozambique, where he assumed the position of a trainer.

At Mgagao, the late Minister of Lands, Agriculture and Rural Resettlement Air Chief Marshal Perrance Shiri, was Maj-Gen Zimondi’s trainer, together with Rex Tichafa in 1975.

After independence in 1980, Maj-Gen Zimondi was attested into the Zimbabwe National Army as a colonel and rose through the ranks to become major-general.

He held various commanding posts in the army, including being Commander of Presidential Guard.

Maj-Gen Zimondi helped to set up a formidable prisons service in the country through improving the delivery of health systems in prisons across the country.

Source – zbc