The Zanu PF politburo Monday denied former politburo member and Cabinet minister Thenjiwe Lesabe national heroine status and instead offered a state-assisted funeral for her, saying she did not meet the criteria to be conferred the status as she was no longer a Zanu PF member.
“With respect to Mai Lesabe, she was given a state-assisted funeral because she was no longer a member of Zanu PF. She had crossed over to Zapu, so arrangements are being made that she gets a state-assisted funeral,” said Zanu PF spokesperson Rugare Gumbo.
Lesabe, who defected to Zapu two years ago, died last Friday of natural causes.
Before the Zanu PF politburo announced its decision yesterday, the Lesabe family had already indicated they would not have her buried at the national shrine.
Instead, the family said she would be laid to rest at her farm in Fort Rixon.
Zapu spokesperson Methuseli Moyo Monday said Lesabe would be buried on Saturday.
Lesabe, who was 79, was chairperson of the Zapu Council of Elders at the time of her death.
“Mrs Lesabe’s funeral has been delayed following requests by family members and Zapu supporters in and outside Zimbabwe for more time to make it for the burial.
“There will be a memorial service on Friday in Bulawayo at a venue to be confirmed to afford city residents a chance to bid farewell to Mrs Lesabe,” said Moyo.
Zapu said her decision to leave Zanu PF was an “unambiguous statement that she did not want to have anything to do with that party and its Heroes’ Acre”.
Lesabe, who was once Zanu PF Women’s League chairperson, served in various capacities as a Cabinet minister before she rejoined the Dumiso Dabengwa-led Zapu two years ago.
President Robert Mugabe has since said the national shrine was a members’ club only, bluntly telling other political parties to build their own shrines.