The late Cephas Msipa lived an exemplary life that ought to be followed by every political figure — whether opposition or ruling party — if this country is to move forward.
After seeing that old age had caught up with him, he retired from active politics, something that is almost unheard of in this country, where politicians seem to believe they have a divine right to rule until they die.
Msipa did what a normal statesman would do, far from the madding crowd and with a less biased view, he began offering advice to his party, some of it which they did not want to hear and for this reason he was vilified.
In spite of all the adversity, he stood strong and issued some of the sharpest criticism of this government, stood on principle and for this he will always have the respect of most Zimbabweans.
As governor of the Midlands, he could have been content with being on the periphery, in a country where politics is often dominated by the Harare-Bulawayo binary discourse, but he carved a niche for himself and stood tall and was counted in the league of extraordinary gentlemen.
Msipa is likely to receive adulating eulogies in the next few days, with his role pre and post-independence dominating newsfeeds.
However, it must be not lost on Zimbabweans that a few years ago, when Msipa sought to give his advice for the betterment of the country, a section of the war veterans’ leadership told him to stay out of politics and act like the political retiree he was.
This is the same section of war veterans that is being lauded and feted today as if they are fighting for democracy just because they are perceived to have stood up to President Robert Mugabe.
This is the same group that always teaches an ethos of respect and the values of the liberation struggle, but they did not think twice before savaging Msipa just because he told them an uncomfortable truth.
Zimbabweans should be wary of opposing just for the sake of opposing and some of these groups that pretend to be fighting for democracy are worse than wolves in sheep skin.
This is what set Msipa above his peers, he would respectfully disagree with his colleagues, while putting across his views in a straightforward manner.
Zimbabwe yearns for such a calibre of politician, regardless of party affiliation, with the moral sense and the ability to tell his colleagues where they go astray and offer to help mediate.
Zimbabwe is poorer without him, but we hope there is someone able to pick that baton and continue with the race the veteran politician started.