The Zimbabwe National Liberation War Veterans Association (ZNLWVA) joined the nation in mourning Minister of Lands, Agriculture, Water and Rural Resettlement Perrance Shiri, who died yesterday.
The association expressed its profound condolences to President Mnangagwa and the family of Minister Shiri on the passing on of the veteran liberation war hero.
In a statement, the ZNLWVA said Cde Shiri distinguished himself as a provincial field commander of the Zimbabwe African National Liberation Army (ZANLA) in the Tete Province.
They said Air Chief Marshal Shiri (Retired), who assumed “this assignment in 1977 as the war from Mozambique was gathering pace”, commanded zanla forces that delivered game-changing military contacts.
The association said the units that Cde Shiri commanded accounted for the death of Lord Richard Cecil in April 1978.
“The demise of Lord Cecil was an emotionally contributing factor to the famous Thatcher-Kaunda dance during the 1979 Commonwealth Heads of State Summit Conference in Lusaka,” said ZNLWVA.
“Provincial Commander Shiri was an exceptional war strategist. Under the guidance of General Magama Tongogara and the zanla High Command, he embarked on a commando training programme relying on young guerrilla fighters with an urban background.
“zanla was busy preparing for an assault on the urban rampart of the rebel Rhodesia settler colony.”
In December 1978, said the association, Cde Shiri was ready to deliver another body blow.
This time, the salvo was right in the capital after his charges evaded Rhodesian security net and proceeded to launch rockets that set ablaze the oil storage tanks in the Southerton Industrial Zone. For days, Ian Smith led attempts to extinguish the fire and even called for help from apartheid South Africa. Rhodesian morale was shattered.
“Many young white soldiers began to gape abroad to South Africa, Britain, Canada, Australia, New Zealand and wherever. The veil of white military invincibility was henceforth being pierced with bold and confident intent by the zanla-zipra guerrilla armies.”
In the post-independence period, the military career of Chief Air Marshal Shiri continued to shine with campaigns in Mozambique, said ZNLWVA. When war broke out in the Democratic Republic of Congo in 1997, Zimbabwe, Angola and Namibia decided to thwart this scheme of self-aggrandisement. With Rwanda pre-emptively moving 10 000 troops to Kitona Airbase west of Kinshasa, Zimbabwe countered by despatching 1 000 airborne special forces to safeguard the Ndjili national airport.
The commander-in-charge was Cde Shiri and the ensuing battle saw the total rout of the combined forces of Uganda and Rwanda.
Air Chief Marshal Shiri would become the celebrated hero of the populace of Kinshasa for saving their city.