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Former Byo deputy mayor Amen Mpofu laid to rest

Family and friends of the late former Bulawayo deputy mayor, Alderman Amen Mpofu have described him as a community-oriented person who loved interacting with people but sadly in his last days he suffered alone.

Alderman Mpofu was elected as Ward 2 councillor and sworn into office on September 2, 2003.

He was re-elected on April 2, 2008, for the 2008 to 2013 term of office, and it was during this tenure he served as Bulawayo deputy mayor.

Speaker after speaker at his burial service held at Amphitheatre in Bulawayo Tuesday described Alderman Mpofu as someone who loved being with people.

His brother Peter Mpofu said the late was always respectful and cared for people so when he was sick, wondered why people he used to help had neglected him.

“Stress was now eating him and I told him to mind his health and not think about others, be it relatives, friends or neighbours,” he said.

Alderman Mpofu’s daughter, Yothando, said their father taught them about love and when growing up, their home used to be filled with visitors.

“My mother always used to cook in those big pots because we always had relatives. He also loved Mandla, our youngest sibling so much that he would not sleep until Mandla was home. My father loved ‘cash talk’ and this is something we learnt from him. He would then ask us why we were like that and we would say we learnt it from you,” she narrated.

However, Yothando said her father’s sickness was painful to bear and every time they received a phone call they expected the worst.

“When my father was sick he thought he was alone and this stressed him a lot. I would explain that this a Covid-19 pandemic and there was less movement but each time I said that his blood pressure would rise. I then suggested to the family that we should take him for counselling to accept that his expectations of what he did to others was not happening to him. He was so sick that at one time, didn’t even want to be asked how he was,” she said as she broke down.

Alderman Mpofu’s nieces also noted that their uncle’s suffering had a purpose, as the Bulawayo City Council was now wanting to look into the welfare of aldermen.

“We hear the city council saying they will have medical aid for former service people, this shows that our uncle’s death was not in vain,” claimed one of the nieces.

His friend, Prince Dube, concurred that Alderman Mpofu did not want to be left alone, as he loved interacting with people.

“He wanted to talk and he taught me a lot of things politically,” he said.

Since Mpofu also served as MDC Alliance’s Bulawayo Provincial Secretary for Local Government, his service was attended by party structures and executives.

MDC Alliance National Chairperson, Thabitha Khumalo, noted that in life, even after serving people for a long time, one often suffered alone.

She took heed of Mpofu’s daughter eulogy, saying her words describing the loneliness her father felt reflected how society was.

“When days are dark or one is suffering, friends and relatives are few but his works will follow you. People naturally don’t honour the works of others when they are alive but start seeing that when they are gone,” she said.

Khumalo noted Mpofu was principled and worked well for his community.

“I equate his life to the straight road – Leopold Takawira, which people call Solobhoni. We have lost a person who made things happen, when he was in council he would make sure residents had water and electricity. Now that he’s out there’s no water,” she said.

The opposition politician also lamented the decline of services at hospitals saying citizens were struggling to access quality healthcare.

“If you go to the hospital you must pray and when you come out alive you will be lucky. When you are sick you struggle with the pain, then struggle with the bills as well. It’s pleasing to hear sentiments that the council will consider medical aid for aldermen because it’s a shame that Mpofu had to die due to lack of money and pills. We should look after our leaders,” she said, challenging Minister of State for Bulawayo Provincial Affairs and Devolution, Judith Ncube to look into social services.

The provincial minister acknowledged that “if something has to be fixed as Bulawayo, let’s do it.”

Ncube said Mpofu’s son called her last Wednesday informing her about his father’s sickness and that he was struggling to access dialysis.

“I then called (Professor) Dr (Solwayo) Ngwenya, who runs the hospital to explain why people were paying for dialysis. He said dialysis was for free but what was expensive were the consumables, which he said cost US$10 for a day and for twice a week one would pay US$20, which is too much for ordinary people,” she said.

“I then made arrangements for Mandla to take his father, unfortunately, Friday he passed away. I worked with Mpofu during our days in ZAPU. As a city, let’s solve what needs to be fixed, it’s not people but the system that must be changed.”

Alderman Mpofu was born on January 4, 1954, in Gokwe and is survived by four children – Yothando, Muziwethu, Mbongeni, Mandlenkosi and grandchildren.

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