President Emmerson Mnangagwa said Gwaradzimba will be remembered over her war-time educational programmes during which she worked with many cadres to develop learning materials for refugees in camps during the liberation struggle.
“On behalf of the party, Zanu PF, government, my family and on my own behalf, I wish to express my deepest condolences to the Gwaradzimba family, especially the children of the late departed who lost a loving mother and mentor,” Mnangagwa said in a statement.
Gwaradzimba was reportedly in Defence minister Oppah Muchinguri’s camp battling for control of the province with provincial chairman Mike Madiro.
She is reported to have played a key role in ensuring that Muchinguri’s faction prevailed over Madiro in the Mutare district coordination committee (DCC) re-run elections late last year after the first round was marred by alleged massive vote rigging.
Binali Yard won the re-run election defeating Clever Muparutsa, who was allegedly being backed by Madiro.
Yard, in his celebratory speech thanked Gwaradzimba for playing a key role in the elections.
A Zanu PF official from Muchinguri faction, who however refused to be named, expressed shock over Gwaradzimba’s death.
“We lost our pillar in our faction. She gave us ideas, despite her being a cool lady she was full of wisdom,” he said.
Madiro confirmed the death of Gwaradzimba, but denied there were factions in the province.
“Yes, I can confirm that our Provincial Affairs minister Ellen Gwaradzimba died this morning,” he said.
“There are no factions in the province. Have you ever seen me wanting to comment over factions? Yes, people have different views, narrative and people who are saying that there are factions are lying.”
He added: “My comment is that, if these different views degenerate into a faction, that is when I start to be worried.”
Sources told NewDay Weekender yesterday that there has been a plot to topple Madiro from his post and Gwaradzimba was expected to play a key role.
“This is the reason (why) there was too much fight in the DCC elections, because Madiro and Muchinguri were aware if they control the district, they will also control the province,” a Zanu PF insider said.
Gwaradzimba was appointed as the Provincial Affairs minister in 2018. She is survived with three children.
Born Ellen Munyoro, Gwaradzimba served as secretary to freedom fighter William Ndangana and Kumbirai Kangai. She became Zanu PF women’s league from 2001-2009, secretary for administration from 2010-2018.
Gwaradzimba, who married Godfrey Mtausi Gwaradzimba in 1978, spent the better of her working life in the academia at the University of Zimbabwe, Mutare Polytechnic and Africa University.
Meanwhile, Mnangagwa paid tribute to Morton Dizzy Paul Malianga, a pioneer of the country’s liberation struggle for independence. He died yesterday at the age of 90.
He formed the African National Congress in 1959 and was successively involved in the founding of the Natinal Democratic Party, Zapu and Zanu.
Mnangagwa said Zimbabwe was honoring his outstanding role in the struggle.
The President also sent a condolence message to the Furusa family following the death of Africa University Vice-Chancellor Munashe Furusa on Wednesday morning.
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