The governing Zanu PF has accorded one of the country’s pioneering pilots Charles Samuriwo a provincial liberation hero status.
Samuriwo passed on last week in South Africa, aged 66.
The recognition came after Zanu PF Mashonaland East province recommended that the late pilot be accorded national hero’s status for his “outstanding contribution to the party and nation during and after the armed struggle”, according to the letter addressed to party’s secretary for Administration Obert Mpofu.
A provincial executive member told Business Times last night the party had accorded him a liberation hero status.
He said Samuriwo’s body was expected to arrive from South Africa today with burial expected tomorrow.
Business Times is however informed that there are indications that Samuriwo’s burial is slated for his rural home in Mahusekwa.
In a letter to Mpofu, Zanu PF Mashonaland East said an extraordinary provincial council meeting held on July 19 recommended that Samuriwo be declared a national hero.
Born on June 19, 1955, he trained as a pilot in Ethiopia, at the world-renowned Ethiopian Airlines Aviation Academy and graduated in 1978 together with Captain Alex Makanda and Chris Chenga.
The three had been sent for training by the Zanu party in preparation for flying the flag after independence and they became the black pioneer pilots for Air Zimbabwe and also in Civil Aviation in Zimbabwe.
At the same time, some comrades were trained as aircraft engineers and part of this group consisted of the following, the late John Madzima Jnr, the late Cephas Tarenyika, the late Tendayi Makoni, and Stanley Mundora and Peter Chikumba.
Samuriwo rose to become the first black Flight Operations Manager at Air Zimbabwe.
He was central to the recruitment, training and development of most of the pilots who were to eventually become the bedrock of aviation in our country and some have since spread their wings right across the world and now fly for some of the world’s biggest airlines.
One of the highlights of his tenure was when he assigned his colleague from Ethiopian Training School days, Captain Alex Makanda, to take command of and fly the Boeing 767-200ER on its delivery flight after manufacture all the way from Seattle, USA, to Harare International Airport (now Robert Gabriel Mugabe International Airport).