Zanu PF secretary for administration Didymus Mutasa has locked horns with Zapu leaders after telling them Zanu PF was the only party entitled to confer hero status because of its long stay in the government.
He told Zapu officials to submit their request for conferment of national hero status on their late member Amos Patrick Ngwenya through Zanu PF provincial structures in Bulawayo.
Ngwenya, one of the Zapu founding members, died of pneumonia on August 3 and was buried on Saturday at Lady Stanley Cemetery in Bulawayo. He was 80.
Soon after his death, Zapu national council of elders secretary Roma Nyathi wrote to Mutasa requesting that Ngwenya be declared a national hero in recognition of the pivotal role he played during the armed struggle.
Part of the Zapu request read: “Comrade Ngwenya served the party in various capacities in the ANC, NDP, PF Zapu, United Zanu PF and Zapu after the pullout from the Unity Accord. At the time of his untimely death, he was a member of our national council of elders.”
But Mutasa yesterday shot back saying Zanu PF would not allow any party to challenge it regarding the role of declaring heroes and heroines.
“Our policy, as the liberation movement, is that the party looks into the issue of hero status to recommend to the government those to be declared as heroes,” Mutasa said.
“We cannot have a situation where Zipra declares its heroes and we come in by sending soldiers for a gun salute. What if the person they claim to be a hero is not a true hero?”
Mutasa acknowledged receiving a hero status request from Zapu, but insisted the Zapu leadership should follow the laid-down channels.
“I saw their letter and have since advised them to send their request through Bulawayo Zanu PF provincial structures,” Mutasa said.
“Once we get that request through our provincial structures, it’s obvious Ngwenya will be granted a hero status. We have a number of PF Zapu members who worked with him and have confirmed they know he is a hero.”
Nyathi told NewsDay Zapu was shocked last week after Mutasa wrote back saying the request
should be channelled through Zanu PF provincial structures.
However, Zapu secretary for legal affairs, advocate Stephen Nkiwane, described the procedure as “ridiculous”, adding they will not allow Zanu PF to continue dictating who deserves to be declared a hero.
“This is ridiculous. We are not a branch and part of Zanu PF. We wrote to Mutasa a letter about a hero who everyone knows. His status cannot be determined by Zanu PF. We will never go through Zanu PF structures to determine Ngwenya’s hero status. We do not want to do that. If they do not want to declare him a hero it’s their problem and if so, we do not care to have State assistance concerning our already known hero,” Nkiwane said.
Nkiwane said Ngwenya was even senior to Mutasa in terms of liberating this country and he was surprised by the Zanu PF official’s “flawed demands”.
In his Heroes’ Day message on Monday, Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai said the “hero status”
issue must be broadened to accommodate all and not be limited to liberation war fighters only.