President Emmerson Mnangagwa has accorded late Rahman Gumbo a state assisted funeral as Zanu PF appeared Wednesday to have hijacked the Zimbabwe national football team and Highlanders legend’s funeral arrangements.
In correspondence written on a Zanu PF letterhead and addressed to the Chief Secretary to the President and Cabinet Martin Rushwaya, party secretary general Obert Mpofu addressed the former Warriors head coach as “Cde Gumbo”, a common title among Zanu PF loyalists, amid indications the party’s provincial office in Bulawayo was coordinating the funeral arrangements.
In his correspondence, Mpofu intimated the former midfield workhorse was a Zanu PF member “from Bulawayo province” although little is known of the late former football star’s links with the ruling party.
Mpofu wrote that Mnangagwa has “His Excellency the President and the First Secretary of Zanu PF, Cde ED Mnangagwa has conferred a state assisted funeral to the late Cde Rahman Allen Thulani Gumbo who died on 10 November 2023. His family can be contacted through the Bulawayo provincial office.
“I shall be most grateful if you would make the usual arrangements for his burial and payments of benefits to his family. He is from Bulawayo province.”
Gumbo, who starred for the legendary Dream Team under late former Germany mentor Reinhard Fabisch back in the 1990s, died aged 59 last Friday in his Botswana base where he had coaching stints.
His body is expected to be repatriated this Thursday ahead of his burial in Bulawayo on Saturday.
Gumbo joins a growing list of celebrities who include sportspersons and musicians who have been accorded state assisted funerals under Mnangagwa’s government.
Other public personalities who have been afforded state-funded funerals include former Studio263 actress Ann Nhira, musicians Stella Chiweshe and Zexie Manatsa, artiste Gibson Mandishona and arts icon Cont Mhlanga.
The list includes two members of popular Matabeleland music band Insimbi ZeZhwane, Elvis Mathe and Thembinkosi Mpofu, who died in a road traffic accident this year, as well as Elvis Nyathi, a Zimbabwean migrant who was brutally killed in Diepsloot, South Africa in a case of xenophobia last year.
But unlike Gumbo, communication on burial decisions was initiated from government and not Zanu PF.
It is a Zanu PF ritual to initiate burial arrangements for party members.