The conferment of national hero status on the late former Mashonaland Central governor and Zanu-PF’s deputy political commissar Ephraim Masawi has sparked anger from the two MDC formations who said Tuesday they did not recognise the honour and have vowed not to attend his burial at the national shrine tomorrow.
The MDC formations argue they should have been consulted as members of the inclusive government.
They said they would boycott the burial although they sympathised with the Masawi family.
MDC-T spokesperson Nelson Chamisa said officials from his party would not attend the burial as they considered it a private function.
“We have never been known to be gatecrashers,” said Chamisa. “It’s a gated and walled affair and we respect their bedroom, so why should we barge in?”
“Why should we ordain and authenticate a Zanu PF charade? We respect the dead, but this has nothing to do with the dead comrade.”
Chamisa said the declaration of Masawi as a national hero was testimony that Zanu PF wanted to be “exclusive” despite being part of the inclusive government.
But Information minister Webster Shamu, who doubles up as Zanu PF’s political commissar, seemed unfazed by the sentiments from the MDC formations.
He said: “Zanu PF does not speak on behalf of the two MDCs. They have their own policies, they are parties on their own and so they have the right to say what they want and do what they want.”
MDC-M spokesperson Edwin Mushoriwa said his party was of the view that Masawi did not deserve national hero status.
“In as much as we sympathise with the Masawi family following the passing-on of Mr Masawi, who to us was a fine gentleman in politics, we, however, don’t share the view that he is a national hero,” said Mushoriwa.
“He is at best a Zanu PF hero rather than a national hero. When we look at the contribution by Masawi and compare him with people such as Gibson Sibanda, Ndabaningi Sithole and Lookout Masuku, who were denied national hero status despite having more credentials than Masawi, we realise that the Heroes’ Acre has been reduced to a Zanu PF shrine.
“As a party, we do not recognise Masawi’s hero status and will officially not attend his burial.”
He said members of his party were grieving with the family but would not attend the burial as a matter of principle although those related to Masawi and some friends may go in their personal capacity.
Meanwhile, speculation swirled in Harare that Masawi’s death revived internecine fights between known factions in Zanu PF over his hero status.
Reports filtering to NewsDay suggested there were behind-the-scene manoeuvres to declare Masawi a national hero after almost three days of silence on the matter.