FIRED Zanu PF veterans linked to former Vice-President Joice Mujuru have described the ruling party as vindictive and crude after it denied former Mines minister Amos Midzi hero status.
BY RICHARD CHIDZA
Midzi was found dead on Tuesday morning at his farm in Beatrice and police recovered poisonous substances and sleeping tablets in his car.
He will be buried at Glen Forest Cemetery outside Harare this morning since Zanu PF refused to accord him any hero status, arguing he was just a card-carrying member after he was suspended from holding any position for his alleged links to Mujuru.
The government yesterday informed the former Zanu PF Harare chairperson’s family he would only be accorded a State-assisted funeral.
Rugare Gumbo, one of the expelled Mujuru allies now converging under the People First banner, said despite the Zanu PF snub, Midzi remained a national hero.
“It would not make any difference whether he is buried at Glen Forest Cemetery or provincial heroes’ acre because he is a hero in his own way,” Gumbo said.
“It only goes to show how vindictive and crude the people running Zanu PF now are.”
He said People First was already looking at the national hero policy with a view to influence changes in the way heroes were recognised.
“Such issues will also require national debate among Zimbabweans,” Gumbo said. “We will look into the issue and provide input on how it should be handled in order to avoid negative feelings towards those already buried there.”
Zanu PF has in the past come under attack for refusing to recognise national heroes who disagreed with Mugabe’s leadership style.
Most of the luminaries denied hero status by Zanu PF were and Zipra members.
Zanu PF’s excuse not to accord Midzi hero status appeared not to pass the credibility test as a number of people have been posthumously honoured even as they were not card-carrying party members.
Former Zimbabwe Farmers’ Union president Gary Magadzire, Joseph Culverwell and businessman Kantibhai Gordanbhai Patel are some of the few heroes lying at the national shrine who had little connection to the ruling party in the post-war period.
University of Zimbabwe political science lecturer Eldred Masunungure said the hero status was fast losing credibility because of the questionable selection procedure.
“It is a perennial problem that has not been adequately ventilated in the public arena,” Masunungure said.
“At the core of this problem is the issue that this very important matter has been mandated to a political party
“The prerogative of conferring national heroes should be moved beyond narrow political lines in order to show its national character.
“There are people even in anti-Zanu PF institutions who deserve to be national heroes, citizens who have excelled in social, cultural and economic fields way outside politics.”
Masunungure said introducing an independent commission to handle the selection of heroes was the way to go.
“In fact, it has never been a national issue and we will not be going back to the drawing board because we have never been there. It has all along been a Zanu PF drawing board and my fear, and I think that of other Zimbabweans is that future generations might decide to exhume some of those characters buried there,” he said.
Former Home Affairs minister, who is now Zapu leader, Dumiso Dabengwa, said it was possible that some people buried at the national shrine might be exhumed because it was being devalued by Zanu PF.
“There are people there who do not deserve to have been lying at the heroes acre,” the Zapu leader said.
“When we set the issue of national heroes before I left Zanu PF, we agreed that we needed to broaden it to incorporate other deserving Zimbabweans who did not necessarily fight in the liberation struggle.”
Fired war veterans leader Jabulani Sibanda said Mugabe employed double standards in the selection of heroes.
“One day people are bussed from across the country and our leaders eulogise during the burial of someone describing him as a national hero, but turn around the next day to claim he was a villain,” Sibanda said in apparent reference to late army general Solomon Mujuru.
“It is either of two things; they were lying when they declared him a national hero or they are lying now.”
Zanu PF last year said it was aware that Mujuru had been working with his wife in a plot to topple Mugabe from power.
MDC-T spokesperson Obert Gutu said his party had always argued against the “bastardisation of national events and institutions”.
“As long as the ruling party continues to privatise national events, then they will continue to lose their lustre,” he said.
“You can see now they are selectively applying the issue among themselves.
“That is enough reason this country needs to have an independent body that deals with such issues.”
Meanwhile, Mugabe reportedly facilitated the granting of a State-assisted funeral for the former ambassador to the United States after Midzi’s family wrote to government seeking a hero status.
Acting Zanu PF provincial chairperson Robert Kahanana said Mugabe had written a letter notifying the family of the development.
“I have a letter from the secretary to the President and Cabinet, Misheck Sibanda, advising the family that Cde Midzi will be provided with a State-assisted funeral,” he said.
Kahanana said he was not aware of any request by the Harare provincial structures for Midzi to be granted hero status.
“I am not aware of that, but I have been advised that the family had actually written a letter requesting that he be accorded hero’s status and I think it is that letter that has caused this response from the government,” he said.
Midzi was a staunch supporter of Mugabe before he joined a long list of victims of the Zanu PF purge of those suspected having links with Mujuru.