Zanu PF’s contemptuous dismissal of a request to declare soccer legend Adam Ndlovu a hero this week was the clearest indication yet that the party has become irrelevant.
Adam died in a vehicle accident near Victoria Falls on Sunday that also claimed the life of a Bulawayo woman, Nomqhele Tshili. His brother Peter was critically injured in the same accident. Adam was a flag-bearer for Zimbabwean football when he plied his trade in Switzerland for top clubs SC Kriens, SR Delmont and FC Zurich after establishing himself with Highlanders back home. He also left an indelible mark in South Africa as he winded up his illustrious career with Moroka Swallows, Dynamos and Free State Stars. But it was in national team colours that Adam stole the hearts of many Zimbabweans with his 34 goals that made him one of the country’s top scorers of all time.
The former national team striker’s death shocked the nation and there was an outpouring of grief on social networks.
MDC formations in the inclusive government were unanimous that Adam deserved to be buried at the National Heroes Acre.
Senior Zanu PF politicians from Matabeleland were also in agreement hence the request they sent to the party’s politburo.
“I do not know what they have agreed in Harare over his status, but to us, especially as a region, he is a hero whether or not he is granted hero status,” Matabeleland South governor Angeline Masuka told mourners at Adam’s Bulawayo home on Tuesday.
However, Zanu PF secretary for administration Didymus Mutasa was cold in his response to the request cynically asking: “What is the sport that Adam Ndlovu played that other people have not?”
He said the national shrine was reserved for people who participated in the liberation struggle. Past experience tells us that Mutasa actually meant the hero status is a preserve of President Robert Mugabe’s loyalists. They do not necessarily have to be exemplary and outstanding in their chosen fields like Adam was. Heroes, according to the Zanu PF thinking, can be people with questionable reputations such as Chenjerai Hunzvi, Cain Nkala, Elliot Manyika and Border Gezi, among others, but serve Mugabe with blind loyalty.
Zanu PF’s definition of hero is not only conflicted, but out of sync with what ordinary Zimbabweans believe today. The majority of this country’s population is made up of young people who did not go to war and what Zanu PF is telling us is that no one from that dominant generation will ever be considered a hero.
Zimbabweans from all corners of the country have temporarily forgotten about their team affiliation to mourn Adam and celebrate his life. They have also been praying for Peter’s recovery.
There is no doubt that Adam is a hero. Zanu PF’s reaction will only serve to show how much the party has lost touch with reality.
It’s another nail in the coffin for what is supposed to be the highest honour any Zimbabwean can be given posthumously.