ZIMBABWE declares popular musician Mtukudzi national hero. President Mnangagwa, declared Zimbabwe a internationally renowned musician Oliver Mukudzi, a national hero on Thursday, granting him a status following his death that has been a preserve for ruling party elites and independence veterans.

Mtukudzi, 66, affectionately known as ''Tuku'', died in a local clinic on Wednesday from diabetes , ending a career that spanned four decades and 67 albums.

Mnangagwa told mourners at Mtukudzi's house outside Harare that the decision to confer  national hero status on the musicians was unanimously made by the government and ruling party.

Mnangagwa was making his first public appearance since he cut short a trip abroad saying he wanted to calm his country following violent protests  last week sparked by his decision to increase fuel prices.

''We have agreed that he is national hero'' Mnangagwa said to cheers and ululation. The government will pay all expenses for his funeral.

Earlier opposition leader Nelson Chamisa said there was no question Mtukudzi was a national hero who united the nation.

Mtukudzi's music cut across generations and  in his later years he produced duets with younger musicians, some of whom he nurtured at his art center in Norton, outside Harare.

He has produced songs with South Sfrican group Black Mambazo as well as Hugh Msakela, the trumpeter and singer known as the ''father of South African Jazz'' who used his music in the fight against apartheid and died on the same day. [Agencies].


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