THE two main MDC formations yesterday boycotted the burial of former Matabeleland North governor Retired Major General Jevan Maseko at the National Heroes’ Acre in Harare.
REPORT BY WONAI MASVINGISE
Both MDC-T leader Morgan Tsvangirai and his MDC counterpart Welshman Ncube and their party representatives did not attend the burial presided over by Acting President Joice Mujuru.
MDC deputy spokesperson Kurauone Chihwayi said his party had decided to stay away in protest against Zanu PF’s monopolisation of the selection process while MDC-T spokesperson Douglas Mwonzora said he was unaware that Maseko had been declared a national hero.
“We had other commitments. We don’t attend Zanu PF functions,” Chihwayi said.
“Though we respect Maseko as a liberation war hero, the decision to give hero status was taken by the Zanu PF politburo alone. However, we do recognise Maseko’s contribution in assisting the country to attain freedom, so in that respect we respect him.”
Said Mwonzora: “I have not been in the country. I only came in today. I don’t think the PM (Prime Minister Tsvangirai) is in the country. Phone (MDC-T national organising secretary Nelson) Chamisa, he would know.”
Tsvangirai’s whereabouts could not be verified at the time of going to print last night. Tsvangirai cancelled a government trip to the African Union jubilee celebrations in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, at the last minute last week to attend to his sick wife Elizabeth Macheka.
Zanu PF spokesperson Rugare Gumbo described the snub by the MDCs as a sign of disrespect for the country’s liberation war heroes.
“All it shows is that they (MDCs) do not respect liberation war heroes. They are still in Ian Smith’s world. It is surprising that Tsvangirai, who is eyeing the Matabeleland vote, fails to come and bury a hero from Matabeleland,” Gumbo said.
Maseko succumbed to cancer, diabetes and kidney failure at Mater Dei Hospital in Bulawayo on Monday last week.
Addressing mourners at the national shrine yesterday, Mujuru described Maseko’s death as a loss to the nation.
“Like those who already lie at this shrine, and indeed other shrines in Zimbabwe and in neighbouring countries, Retired Major General Jevan Ben Maseko gave all he could for the freedom and development of his country,” Mujuru said.
“He faithfully served this country as a fearless freedom fighter, a guardian of our national security through a distinguished career in the Zimbabwe Defence Forces and as a dedicated diplomat.”