President Emmerson Mnangagwa seems to be continuing where his predecessor, Robert Mugabe, left off, by rewarding dubious and questionable characters heroes’ statuses, which they do not deserve.
While the late Zanu PF Bulawayo youth leader, Magura Charumbira, may have been the fuse that led to Mugabe’s ouster, the reality is that awarding him hero’s status makes a mockery of the very notion of what a hero is.
Charumbira’s claim to infamy is harassing vendors, demanding protection fees and the most inglorious one is being involved in the recent torture of people that demonstrated against Mnangagwa.
Awarding him hero’s status sends a wrong message to other Zanu PF youth that they can get involved in such barbaric activities with the reward being declared a hero.
This will create a culture of lawlessness and impunity, which are incongruous with what Mnangagwa and his government promised with their new dispensation rhetoric.
It is imperative that Mnangagwa makes a clean break from the way Mugabe led, otherwise his critics will feel vindicated when they say the new administration is nothing, but old wine in new casks.
This latest episode again reaffirms the need to reform the way national accolades are awarded and ensure that it is a non-partisan and transparent process.
National awards, such as heroes’ statuses, ought to be removed from Zanu PF and made a truly national process, where someone’s achievements in nation-building and improving Zimbabwe’s image and brand are looked at.
In terms of nation-building and improving Zimbabwe’s brand, Charumbira falls short and it is without doubt that a non-partisan body would not have given him that award.
Mugabe also faced the same accusations, where people like Elias Kanengoni, who were implicated in attempted murders, were declared heroes and buried at the national shrine.
This sullies the whole hero’s status and somehow tarnishes the images of real heroes, who lie buried at the national and provincial shrines across the country.
In future, the administration ought to think carefully about what accolades it awards to people and ensure that the nation’s interests come before Zanu PF’s.
While it may seem expedient now to reward those that opposed Mugabe, the reality is that awarding people like Charumbira is a farcical shame and not before long, national shrines and heroes’ statuses will lose value and meaning to Zimbabweans.
Heroes acres across the country should be for people whose service to the country is unquestionable and their characters beyond reproach.
Charumbira falls far short in every regard of being a hero.