President Robert Mugabe has reportedly relented to pressure from his inner cabal and Zimbabweans at large over the national hero status of the late veteran nationalist Edgar Tekere.
Tekere, who was 74, died of prostate cancer at Murambi Clinic in Mutare on Tuesday.
His family was already making provisional plans to bury him in Mutare in the event he is not declared a national hero.
Zanu PF spokesperson Rugare Gumbo said consultations were still ongoing and an announcement would be made today.
But NewsDay has it on terra firma that the entire politburo was in favour of Tekere being granted national hero status despite having fallen out with President Mugabe over the octogenarian’s desire for a one-party State.
Yesterday, Manicaland province sent party secretary for administration Didymus Mutasa to plead with President Mugabe to forgive Tekere and accord him hero status as doing otherwise could prove detrimental to the President’s political career.
NewsDay spotted Mutasa at State House yesterday during the accreditation of diplomats and confronted him over Tekere.
He replied: “That is why I am here. I want to meet the President over the issue.”
- Chamisa under fire over US$120K donation
- Mavhunga puts DeMbare into Chibuku quarterfinals
- Pension funds bet on Cabora Bassa oilfields
- Councils defy govt fire tender directive
Meanwhile, a high-powered delegation from Manicaland led by chairman Mike Madiro, descended on Harare to mobilise support from politburo members.
“The chairman is in Harare where he is running around to see to it that Cde Tekere is buried at the National Heroes’ Acre. We have reached a unanimous decision as a party because he fought for the freedom that we are enjoying right now,” said Zanu PF central committee member Esau Mupfumi.
Last night, Mutasa said all politburo members were not against Tekere being accorded hero status, but had to consult the family first.
Asked if the President had problems granting Tekere the status, he said: “Why should the President have a problem with that decision, when he worked with him so tightly and hard? We need to get the family’s acceptance first. I’m going to meet the family tomorrow, talk to them and hear their views. I am not going to make an announcement today (yesterday), but tomorrow (today),” said Mutasa.
This he said amid speculation that Zanu PF was avoiding the same embarrassment they suffered last year when they accorded the late Welshman Mabhena hero status only for his family to refuse to have him buried at the national shrine.
Zanu founder member and former Defence minister Enos Nkala said: “No one in the current party’s politburo qualifies to deliberate on the heroism of the late nationalist Edgar Tekere. Tekere is just a hero because he is a hero. We do not have to go to the Zanu PF politburo.
Who is (President) Mugabe to declare Tekere a hero? We started Zanu PF in my house and invited him (President Mugabe) from Ghana to join us. He has destroyed Zanu PF, a massive party.
Whether they declare him (Tekere) hero or not, they are a funny crowd of looters. They are servants of (President) Mugabe.”
Deputy Prime Minister Arthur Mutambara said: “In terms of heroism, this is as good as it gets. There is no Zimbabwean hero, dead or alive, who has a higher rank of heroism than Edgar Tekere. He is heroism personified.
“No one can carry out a discussion about the liberation struggle in Zimbabwe without invoking the name Edgar Tekere.”
The MDC led by Welshman Ncube described Tekere as a stalwart of the liberation struggle who truly deserved national hero status.
“He is one of the luminaries of the struggle for independence, who have earned their hero status. He is indeed an undisputable national hero,” said the party spokesman, Nhlanhla Dube.
The MDC-T described Tekere as a fearless fighter. “Zimbabweans will remember Tekere as a leader who left Zanu PF and government soon after the country attained independence due to his disillusionment with the betrayal of the ideals of the liberation struggle.
“He could not tolerate massive corruption, looting and harassment, persecution and murder of political opponents by the establishment,” said the party.
Meanwhile, Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai failed to address mourners at Tekere’s house in Mutare after Zanu PF supporters burst into song when he tried to speak and only stopped after he had left.