Didymus Mutasa, the Zanu PF Secretary for Administration, lied and misled the nation this week when he claimed the late veteran nationalist and Zanu Ndonga leader, Ndabaningi Sithole, was not buried at the national shrine because no formal request was made to Zanu PF for the honour to be bestowed, it has emerged.
“Mutasa is lying through his teeth. He is not telling the truth and he should be ashamed,” said an angry Reketayi Mushiwokufa Semwayo, the Zanu Ndonga national chairman, who says he personally delivered the application for the late founding president of Zanu to be declared a national hero.
Zanu PF Matabeleland South provincial chairman Andrew Langa also said Mutasa was not telling the truth about the non-conferment of hero status to another veteran nationalist, Thenjiwe Lesabe.
Mutasa said Lesabe had been accorded a State-assisted funeral because that was what the province where she came from had asked for.
Langa denied the province ever approached the politburo for a State-assisted funeral for Lesabe.
“We did not. No, we did not,” Langa said, declining to go into detail about what transpired.
Semwayo told NewsDay in an interview on Friday that his party had written to Zanu PF three days after Sithole’s death in America, requesting that he be declared a national hero.
“Jonathan Moyo and Sikhanyiso Ndlovu who are Zanu PF members attended Sithole’s funeral and we sought advice from them on how we could get Sithole declared a national hero, and they advised us to write a letter to Zanu PF,” said Semwayo.
“We wrote the letter to Nathan Shamuyarira and I personally delivered it to Zanu PF Headquarters and they asked us to wait for a politburo decision,” he said.
Semwayo said when Sithole’s body arrived from the US for burial, Zanu PF had still not made a decision. The family then made arrangements to take Sithole for burial at his Freedom Farm in Chipinge.
“Before we left for Freedom Farm, the late Edison Zvobgo visited us at Sithole’s Waterfalls home where his body was lying in State and he asked us to wait a little longer for a politburo decision. We waited but after realising that they were taking too long to decide, we then proceeded to Chipinge to bury our leader,” said Semwayo.
He said soon after the funeral church service at Mount Selinda Mission, and while they were digging the grave at the farm, Shamuyarira phoned Zanu Ndonga vice-president, Wilson Khumbula, to inform him that the Zanu PF politburo had made a decision not to confer national hero status on Sithole.
“So what Mutasa is saying is not the truth. He is lying. We did apply for Sithole’s recognition as a national hero. In fact, we are still fighting to have him declared one,” said Semwayo.
He was brandishing a copy of a letter which his party wrote last year to the GPA principals Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai, President Robert Mugabe and Deputy Prime Minister Arthur Mutambara requesting that the Zanu PF decision not to honour the nationalist be reviewed.