Zanu PF’s politburo says it blundered when it declared the late Pamela Tungamirai a liberation war heroine and will soon revise its earlier position amid reports of mounting pressure from a known faction to pronounce her a national heroine.
Pamela, who died last Friday in Harare, is former wife to the late national hero Air Chief Marshal Josiah Tungamirai.
Didymus Mutasa, Zanu PF’s secretary for administration, on Monday confirmed that the politburo will have to sit to reconsider Tungamirai’s status after a barrage of attacks from the party’s Women’s League, Harare province and her family.
Tungamirai was buried on Monday at her rural home in Rusape where at least 500 people attended.
Confusion abounds on who accorded her provincial heroine status as it has since emerged that the politburo, Zanu PF’s top decision-making body outside congress, never met to deliberate on the issue.
But the decision is said to have been hastily made at Harare International Airport before President Robert Mugabe’s departure to Libya for the Afro-Arab summit last Saturday.
Her family had on Sunday said they felt betrayed by Zanu PF’s decision arguing she gave her all to the liberation struggle.
The relatives told NewsDay that Tungamirai wanted to be interred at the national shrine, failure of which she asked to be buried at her rural home in Rusape.
A close relative (name supplied) on Sunday confided in 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 to musician (Simon) Chimbetu who was accorded the same status with her?
People are not happy and we told Zanu PF leaders here who were close to her that we as the family are not happy at all.
“She loved Zanu PF and did not compromise on that but now it’s unfortunate she gets this,” the relative said.
At the burial, Mutasa said Tungamirai participated actively in the country’s war of liberation.
“The politburo will have to sit and deliberate on her status,” said Mutasa, who is also Presidential Affairs minister. “Whatever the politburo will decide after sitting would then be followed.”
Mutasa did not rule out Tungamirai being declared a national heroine posthumously and her body being exhumed for reburial at the national shrine in Harare.
Zanu PF is currently at sixes and sevens over conferment of hero status on its fallen colleagues.
The party was embarrassed last week when the family of the late national hero Welshman Mabhena refused to release his body for burial at the Heroes’ Acre in Harare, preferring instead to bury him at Lady Stanley Cemetery in Bulawayo.
Harare Metropolitan governor David Karimanzira, who officiated at the funeral, said as far as the province was concerned, Tungamirai deserved to be accorded national heroine status and they had made recommendations to that effect.
“The politburo has to decide on that,” said Karimanzira. “I think Cde Mutasa knows what happened.”
Zanu PF Women’s League and the party’s Harare provincial leadership said at the weekend they were dismayed by the decision not to accord her national heroine status as she had played an important role during and after the liberation of the country.
Zanu PF Women’s League boss Oppah Muchinguri told mourners on the eve of Tungamirai’s burial that the league was disappointed the late Tungamirai was not recognised accordingly.
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 provincial chairman Amos Midzi said the province had recommended Tungamirai for national heroine status but was dumbfounded at what happened.