The family of Pamela Tungamirai, ex-wife to the late national hero Air Chief Marshal Josiah Tungamirai, has said they feel betrayed after the Zanu PF politburo decided not to confer her with national heroine status, as they felt she fitted the criteria described by President Robert Mugabe a fortnight ago.
Zanu PF Women’s League and the party’s Harare provincial leadership also said they were dismayed by the decision not to accord her national heroine status as she played an important role during and after the liberation of the country.
Relatives of the late Tungamirai Sunday said they were hurt by the decision to confer her with the lesser liberation war heroine status as it was a betrayal of her wishes.
The relatives told NewsDay that she had wanted to be interred at the national shrine, failure of which she preferred to be buried at her rural home in Rusape.
A close relative (name supplied) confided to NewsDay:
“She wanted to be buried at the National Heroes’ Acre where her husband is and failure to have that, she said she wanted to be buried at her rural home.
“This is the greatest betrayal and we are not happy at all. How can our relative be equated with musician (Simon) Chimbetu, The late liberation war heroine was a member of the Zanu PF central committee from 1990 to 2009 and MP for Mabvuku/Tafara constituency from 1989 to 2000.
Zanu PF Women’s League boss Oppah Muchinguri told mourners that the league was disappointed that the late Tungamirai was not accorded national heroine status.
Muchinguri said she respected Tungamirai for her fearless nature, saying she was one of the few women in the party who spoke her mind.
The former Manicaland governor said it was unfortunate that “undeserving elements” were finding their way to the national shrine at the expense of deserving people.
Zanu PF Harare province chairman Amos Midzi said the province had recommended Tungamirai for national heroine status but did not know what happened for her not to be accorded the status.
He said Zanu PF secretary for administration Didymus Mutasa should be in a position to give a satisfactory explanation as to why Tungamirai was not accorded heroine status.
“As Harare province we worked together with Comrade Tungamirai and we know her courage during and after the liberation struggle. She worked tirelessly for the party as MP for Mabvuku/Tafara,” said Midzi.
“She would go into the wards to find out what the people wanted — that is why you see people from Mabvuku are here to mourn their heroine.”
Zanu PF Harare district coordinating committee chairperson Jaison Pasadi described Tungamirai as a hard-working person who fought for the empowerment of the people she represented.
“She did a lot for the people, not only the people of Mabvuku/Tafara but the country at large, dating back to the days of liberation struggle,” he said.
During the burial of Zanu PF deputy political commissar Ephraim Masawi on September 30, President Mugabe said anybody who did not fight in the war of liberation should not dream of being accorded hero status and that only Zanu PF would decide who is laid to rest at Heroes’ Acre.
He stressed that the National Heroes’ Acre was not for factory workers and people harbouring such hopes were free to build their own shrine.
“This is a place for people who would have fought for this country, those that brought independence,” he said.
“It’s a place for the freedom fighters and not a place for the holy.”
President Mugabe snubbed the burial of national hero and former Matabeleland North governor Welshman Mabhena at Lady Stanley Cemetery in Bulawayo on Saturday.