The Zanu PF hero status policy has once again come under the microscope after the death of former Zimbabwe National Army (ZNA) senior officer and war veteran Retired Lieutenant Colonel Gabriel Moyo, who, at the time of his death, was an active Zapu member.
Moyo died last Saturday at United Bulawayo Hospital. He was 56.
Sources said there was already jostling over control of the former soldier’s funeral. Moyo is survived by two daughters, a son and wife, Anna, who is an administrator at the Zanu PF Bulawayo provincial offices.
“The situation is a bit odd,” a source said. “The problem is that the late retired colonel was an active Zapu member, yet his wife works at Zanu PF. The deceased is Zapu while the bereaved is Zanu PF.
“There is a battle over who will control his funeral. Yesterday (Monday) there was an interesting scenario when Zapu youths went to the family home in Luveve to deliver firewood and found that Zanu PF youths were doing the same. It seems even his hero status request will be a two-pronged battle. Zanu PF has made an effort and Zipra veterans have also made an effort to have him buried at the provincial heroes’ acre,” the source said.
The revived Zapu pulled out of Zanu PF two years ago and since then there has been serious acrimony between the two former liberation movements, especially in the volatile Bulawayo province. Zanu PF officials have blasted Zapu revivalists, the latest attack being last month by controversial war veterans’ faction leader Jabulani Sibanda, who fired a salvo at Zapu president Dumiso Dabengwa, whom he described as a, “counter-revolutionary”.
In an interview with NewsDay on Tuesday, Zipra veterans’ leader, Retired Colonel Ray Ncube confirmed they had written to the governor’s office requesting that the late Moyo be declared a hero but were still waiting for a response.
Ncube said his organisation had approached Bulawayo Metropolitan governor Cain Mathema outside the Zanu PF norm of following their party structures.
“Their procedure is normally that they go through Zanu PF structures until they get to the top offices. We have not done that and we will not do that. Get me right on that, we are not going to Zanu PF to beg that Moyo be respected as a hero. We recognise him as a hero. We are working with the family to see how we handle the whole thing.
“We have approached the governor directly because he doesn’t belong to any one party but is a governor for all, and the police and the army, who are central to the hero’s burial programme, also fall under him. We have already written a letter to the governor and are still waiting for the response,” he said.
Mathema could neither confirm nor deny receiving the letter. “That is a little issue and you mean to tell me that you have called me just to confirm that?” he asked. Zanu PF provincial chairman Isaac Dakamela said the party would have to engage war veterans on the way forward.
“He is a liberation war hero. We will communicate with war veterans to find out how we can help. But I think most of the work rests in the hands of the army,” he said.
Bulawayo provincial war veterans’ leader Themba Ncube said he was in Masvingo attending a relative’s funeral and could not comment on the issue.
Zapu spokesperson Methuseli Moyo said his party welcomed Zanu PF’s offer to assist with the funeral but it should not be forgotten the late Moyo was a Zapu member. He however said he hoped the dilemma would pass without any skirmishes between the two parties.
“Gabhu was a man of peace and during his funeral we must respect that. “On his hero status, we don’t anticipate any problem. Whether they are Zanu or Zapu or anything, heroes are heroes.
He is a war veteran and request for his declaration as a hero is a mere formality,” Moyo said.