There was pandemonium in Parliament on Tuesday as debate on the late former Governor of Mashonaland Central, Ephraim Masawi, turned into a no-holds-barred verbal showdown.
MPs from Zanu PF and MDC-T insulted each other in a heated debate over the late Masawi’s hero status.
Zaka West MP Festus Dumbu (MDC-T) said Masawi did not deserve hero status and accused Zanu-PF of making the National Heroes Acre a members’ only club where interment was exclusive.
Some gallant warriors of the liberation struggle from the former Zimbabwe People’s Revolutionary Army (Zipra), PF Zapu’s armed wing, MPs said, were given pauper’s burials when they deserved to lie at the national shrine.
“There was Cde Chacha who was buried without even a coffin, under a mango tree. He was buried in dirty wrappings and his grave is not even built,” said Dumbu without elaborating which “Cde Chacha” he was referring to.
Dumbu called Masawi a “purported gallant son of Zimbabwe” attracting the ire of Zanu-PF MPs who immediately raised a point of order with the Deputy Speaker of Parliament, Nomalanga Khumalo, claiming Dumba’s statement was insulting.
“We are turning the National Heroes Acre into a National Heroes Hectare, full of people who do not deserve to be national heroes,” said Dumbu.
Mutasa Central MP Trevor Saruwaka (MDC-T) said the declaration of Masawi as a national hero was a travesty of justice.
“Masawi died after the dubious declaration of my friend’s mother, Tete Sabina (Mugabe) as a national hero and after the denial of the same status to Gibson Sibanda, who many felt had better credentials than the two,” said Saruwaka.
He said declaration of one as a national hero had financial implications to the fiscus and therefore could not go unchallenged.
Harison Mudzuri, the MDC-T Zaka Central MP, joined in saying there were “worthless characters” that were conferred with the hero status by Zanu PF.
Buhera Central MP Tangwara Matimba (MDC-T) said it was important to live a noble life so that in death one could be respected. He said if one died doing wrong things, they would “go to hell in their suits and caskets bought by Zanu-PF even if they were buried at the Heroes Acre”.
MDC-T MP for Highfield West, Simon Hove, described Masawi as “a notorious patron of two Mbare beerhalls”.
“The other things that I need to bring to the attention of this House are the nefarious things he used to do in Mbare. He used to be a pickpocket and I stand to be challenged by anyone,” said Hove.
The MDC-T MPs argued true heroes like Ndabaningi Sithole, Jairos Jiri and actor Safirio Madzikatire, MDC-M’s Sibanda, among others, deserved hero status.
However,Zanu-PF MPs maintained their politburo would continue making decisions on who should be conferred hero status.
Hurungwe East MP Sara Mahoka referred to MDC-T MPs’ blasting of the late Masawi as animal behaviour.
Mhondoro-Ngezi MP Bright Matonga (Zanu-PF) said the MDC-T MPs who were criticising the late Masawi were “devils possessed by the spirit of the biblical Legion”.
Masawi died on Leukaemia (cancer) in September and was declared a national hero.
President Robert Mugabe has made it crystal clear that the national shrine was a Zanu-PF affair and those who thought otherwise should build their own shrines.