There was drama at the burial of Chief Makumbe in Buhera yesterday after his family removed the names of senior Zanu PF officials lined up to address mourners, arguing the burial was not a political party affair.
Among those whose names were removed from the list of speakers were Zanu PF Manicaland provincial chairperson Mike Madiro and other local party leaders.
The original programme which was allegedly prepared by Zanu PF Manicaland province had excluded MDC-T leader Morgan Tsvangirai who eventually became guest of honour.
Before announcing the changes, family spokesperson John Mangwiro said: “There is a word I want you to understand. We are here to bury a chief who led every creature in his area.
“All the people belong to the chief and for everyone who will speak, don’t move away from the business here,” he said.
“This is not a political party gathering. Anyone who speaks should speak only about the chief we are burying here.
“Everyone who is going to talk should not talk about political parties. If you want trouble and you don’t follow procedure, we will call the police to lock you up,” he said.
Mangwiro confirmed that Zanu PF officials wanted to impose their leaders onto the programme to speak at the funeral but said the gathering was not political.
MDC-T officials present argued that if Madiro was being acknowledged by speakers, their provincial chairman Julius Magaramombe should also be allowed to address the mourners.
Chief Makumbe succumbed to cancer over the weekend at the age of 92.
Other senior government officials who attended the funeral included Manicaland governor Chris Mushohwe, Local Government minister Ignatius Chombo and Constitutional and Parliamentary Affairs minister Eric Matinenga. Zanu PF politburo member Kumbirai Kangai was also present.
Tsvangirai, a nephew to the Makumbe family, took the occasion to call for peace in the country and challenged traditional leaders to emulate the late Chief Makumbe whom he described as a humble man who did not hesitate to speak his mind.
“In Buhera, peace is not about politicians only. It’s about people because we are related,” he said.
“I met President (Robert) Mugabe and (Deputy Prime Minister Arthur) Mutambara and we said no to violence.
“From the leaders, there is one word, let’s live in peace and the chiefs have a role to engage in peace, stability and ensure development,” Tsvangirai said.
“We all have one national interest to feed the nation and our parents,” he said.