THE late national hero, Ambassador Douglas Nyikayaramba, who succumbed to Covid-19-related complications on Tuesday, leaves behind a legacy of humility, servant leadership and patriotism, President Mnangagwa has said.
A decorated military general, war veteran and diplomat, Ambassador Nyikayaramba was the country’s chief diplomat to Mozambique, where he played a leading role in promoting regional peace at a time the neighbouring country was under siege from insurgents.
Speaking during his burial at the National Heroes Acre in Harare yesterday, the President urged the nation to honour the late national hero by defending his legacy.
“I challenge us all to thrive to preserve, defend and protect the legacy that the late Cde Nyikayaramba — Blessing Muhondo (his nom de guerre) — and other heroes bequeathed to us. Citizens must resist to be used as willing tools by those advancing myopic, narrow and alien agendas bent to slow down and reverse our gains of Independence. We are a united, caring and peace-loving people.”
He described Ambassador Nyikaramba as a dedicated revolutionary who never wavered from his duty since joining the liberation war.
“From the days of the national liberation struggle, right through to Independence and his final hour in this life, the late national hero, Cde Douglas Nyikayaramba, was with us, indeed a comrade-in-arms during the liberation struggle; we called him Blessing Muhondo,” he said.
“After the war of liberation, he assumed many titles related to his changing ranks as he rose in the military. Today he is gone, snatched away from us by a virus which has wreaked havoc in all nations.”
His death, President Mnangagwa added, comes at a time when the nation is still mourning the deaths of five other national heroes who succumbed to Covid-19.
“On behalf of the ruling party ZANU PF, Government and on my behalf, I wish to express my deep, heartfelt condolences to the Nyikayaramba family, especially to Amai Nyikayaramba and the children.
“They have lost a son, brother, uncle and nephew. Above all and most hurtfully, Amai Nyikayaramba lost a husband, a father, breadwinner and a mentor.”
President Mnangagwa reminded the nation that the war against the coronavirus is far from over.
“We are in the thick of it. We dare not lose it. Each Zimbabwean who falls to the pandemic is a grim reminder that the pandemic is real and a danger to our nation.
“However, such tragic loss of life should fortify our determination to do the needful in order to save our lives, lives of our families, friends and our fellow countrymen and countrywomen.
“Government continues to assess the threat posed by the pandemic and of course to take measures necessary to save lives.
“These measures are predicated on strict enforcement and adherence to World Health Organisation protocols and the roll out of our vaccination programme.”
Ambassador Nyikayaramba’s pivotal role in the implementation of the Command Agriculture programme was also lauded.
“He leaves this world when the sector which he helped shape and move has made a very promising performance this season.
“The impact of the innovative Pfumvudza/Intwasa programme has been encouraging. Equally, our large-scale commercial farmers have done well.
“We are set for a bumper harvest, taking our nation to full food security, with the possibility of a surplus. In tribute to him, we must continue on this up-and-up agriculture path.
“Indeed, programmes are underway to ensure that our agriculture sector is climate-proofed through the construction of more dams.”
He was an important cog in the country’s engagement and re-engagement efforts, as he was concerned about the peace and security of the region.
President Mnangagwa said: “My most recent contact with the late Ambassador Nyikayaramba was at his workstation in the Republic of Mozambique. He was our point-man on the security situation in that sister Republic.
“I am happy that his efforts were not in vain. The situation is gradually improving and stabilising.”
The Head of State and Government urged the nation to remain vigilant as the country is still under illegal sanctions.
“Be that as it may, we cannot allow those heinous sanctions to hold us back,” he said.
“We have enough resources in our country; we have several nations of goodwill to partner.
“Above all, we have the will and determination to succeed.
“Various indicators are pointing towards recovery and positive growth. We must stay on course and focus on our effort until we defeat these sanctions.”
During his military career, Ambassador Nyikayaramba won many honours for his competency and bravery.
These include the Liberation Medal; Independence Medal; Ten Years’ Service Medal; Long and Exemplary Medal; Mozambique Campaign Medal; Democratic Republic of Congo Campaign Medal; Grand Officer of
the Zimbabwe Order of Merit Award; and Commander of the Most Meritorious Order of Mohlomi.
He was born on January 9, 1960 in Mutoko District, Mashonaland East Province, where he grew up.
He was the first born in a family of 11.
As with all his contemporaries, he encountered snags placed in his educational career by the colonial government, until he completed his Ordinary Level studies.
Joining the liberation struggle in 1977, he did his training at Tembue Base Two and later at Nachingwea Training Base.
After emerging as an outstanding trainee, he was upgraded to an instructor upon completion of his course.
Later, he would be deployed to the front, fighting in the Gaza province, where he rose to the rank of Detachment Commander.
During his service in the military, the late national hero held several appointments, among them being a Company Commander with 2.2 Infantry Battalion.
He rose through the ranks from Lieutenant, Captain, Major, Lieutenant Colonel, Colonel, Brigadier General and then Major General.
Between 1981 and 1982, he was course officer at the Zimbabwe Military Academy.
From 1982 to 1983, he became an assistant chief instructor at the Zimbabwe Military Academy, where he was responsible for programme and instructional development.
During the period of 1983 to 1985, he was a Brigade Major with the Presidential Guard.
Further, from 1985 to 1986, he was the director staff at the Zimbabwe Staff College, Junior Division and later on Directing Staff Tactical Trainer from 1986-1987.
During this period, he was promoted to the post of Lieutenant Colonel and appointed Commanding Officer 1.2 Infantry Battalion, a post he held from 1987 to 1989.
He was attached to the Special Forces (Parachute Group) for parachute training and subsequent understudying of Special Forces Operations.
Upon his retirement from the Zimbabwe National Army in 2019, he was promoted to Lieutenant General.