The National Heroes Acre is set to be expanded with more graves being added to the existing 195 graves, a Cabinet Minister has said.
Addressing the media after the 29th Cabinet session, Minister of Information, Publicity and Broadcasting Services, Senator Monica Mutsvangwa said Cabinet approved the architectural designs for the expansion of the national shrine.
“Cabinet received and approved the Proposed Architectural Designs for Phase II of the National Heroes Acre Extension Works as presented by the Minister of Home Affairs and Cultural Heritage, Honourable Kazembe Kazembe.
“The nation is being informed that the National Heroes Acre at its establishment had 195 graves. Forty two years later, 161 graves have been utilised leaving 35. It is therefore important that an additional 104 graves be created to ensure that the national shrine is able to accommodate new burials at all times,” said Minister Mutsvangwa.
Minister Mutsvangwa further informed that Cabinet had also directed the Ministry of Home Affairs and Cultural Heritage to ensure that the national shrine was refurbished.
The Information Minister added that the expanded and refurbished National Heroes Acre would encompass the Zimbabwe Liberation War Museum in its vicinity, to memorialise Zimbabwe’s colonial and liberation experiences together with the individual contributions of the heroes and heroines interred at the shrine.
Minister Mutsvangwa added that the National Heroes Acre was a symbol and celebration of Zimbabwe’s triumph over adversities associated with dispossession and colonialism.
According to Minister Mutsvangwa, provincial and district heroes acres will also be spruced up and heroes monuments outside the country will also have to be maintained.
On another matter, Minister Mutsvangwa informed that Government dispatched a team of officials led by the Executive Director of the National Museums and Monuments of Zimbabwe, to travel to the United Kingdom on a Fact-Finding Mission to prepare for the repatriation of human remains of National Heroes and Heroines of the First Chimurenga.
Minister Mutsvangwa said that the objectives of the mission included to engage British institutions with a view to ascertaining the presence of human remains of our ancestors and facilitate their repatriation; to access and assess migrated archives including Rhodesian Military and Intelligence records and negotiate for their repatriation; and to identify cultural artefacts in British institutions and initiate dialogue for their possible repatriation.
The Minister said that the delegation was satisfied that there were indeed human remains of Zimbabwean origin in the United Kingdom as confirmed by the Natural History Museum and the Duckworth laboratory. She added that both the Natural History Museum and the University of Cambridge were willing to collaborate on the repatriation of the human remains in their institutions.