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Declare Sibanda national hero – PM

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Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai and Deputy Prime Minister Arthur Mutambara want government to declare founding member of the Movement for Democratic Change, Gibson Sibanda, who passed away yesterday, a national hero. But last night a ZBC-TV news bulletin quoted President Robert Mugabe as having announced that Sibanda would only be accorded a state-assisted funeral.
Sibanda, who was Minister State in the office of the DPM died at Mater Dei Hospital in Bulawayo where he had been admitted for treatment the previous day.
Mutambara yesterday said Sibanda was a voice of reason and upright politician who should be accorded national heroes status.
MDC-M secretary-general Welshman Ncube confirmed the development.
“I can confirm the party has made a request to President Mugabe in his capacity as President of Zimbabwe that Sibanda be considered for national hero status,” said Ncube. “I can further confirm that the request has been formally supported by Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai in his official capacity and Deputy Prime Minister Arthur Mutambara in his official capacity.”
He said they were now awaiting response to the request.
Ncube said the application had been made in view of the role Sibanda played in the liberation of this country, his work in the MDC and his contribution to building peace in the country through the Organ on National Healing, Reconciliation and Integration.
Sibanda, who was a senator and a member of the Organ on National Healing, Reconciliation and Integration, succumbed to cancer. He was 66.
However in an interview yesterday daughter of the late politician and former trade union leader, Thandi Sibanda, said her father would be buried at the family’s rural home at Silalatshani in Insiza District on Sunday. His wife, Zodwa, who died in December 2003, is buried there.
“We are waiting for my sister who is out of the country but we will have a service on Saturday at the Main Street Methodist Church in the city centre and then leave for Silalatshani in the afternoon where he will be laid to rest,’’ Sibanda said. “It’s such a huge loss for us as a family. Our father was the pillar of the whole Sibanda family especially since he was the only son in his family and when my grandfather died he became the head of the family.’’ In a statement yesterday, Ncube said his party had “learnt with deep shock and sadness’’ of the death of its vice-president.
“Personally, he is the one who influenced me to go into mainstream politics,’’ said Ncube, who is also the Minister of Industry and International Trade. “For me, it’s like my heart has been ripped off me.’’
He said Sibanda was the “father” of MDC-M.

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