THE definition of a hero is under the spotlight again in Zimbabwe after the government inexplicably denied the late MDC-T leader, Morgan Tsvangirai that honour.
Tsvangirai and Zanu PF may have been on different sides of the political divide, but everyone is unanimous that the MDC-T leader stood for what the country aspires and for that reason he deserves the highest honour in the land.
The MDC-T leader left an indelible mark on the country and the question we ask is: If Tsvangirai is not a hero, then who is?
We are reminded of the late Vice-President Joshua Nkomo’s speech at the burial of Lookout Masuku, who at that time had also been denied his deserved hero’s status despite his sacrifices for the country.
“He is not being buried at the heroes’ acre,” Nkomo said of Masuku.
“But they can’t take away his status as a hero.
“You don’t give a man the status of a hero.
“All you can do is recognise it.
“It is his.”
Nkomo might as well have been speaking of Tsvangirai, because even if he is not accorded that status, he is undoubtedly the people’s hero.
Zanu PF may ignore him or give him a State-assisted funeral, but they can never take away his status as a hero, who will always have a special place in the hearts and minds of people that suffered under the yoke of a dictatorship.
This again calls for a re-look into the way hero’s status is bestowed, as it should no longer be the preserve of the President nor his party.
The government should set up an independent ad hoc commission that determines the status of our country’s luminaries.
This way, deserving people will not be left out and it will cease to be a partisan ritual as is the case presently.
President Emmerson Mnangagwa had the perfect opportunity to show that his administration was markedly different from that of his predecessor, Robert Mugabe’s, but he squandered the chance spectacularly.
This was a chance to show that he can reach across the political divide, as he did when he visited the ailing Tsvangirai and show that the days of toxic polarisation are over.
There is desperate need to reform the awarding of hero’s status, lest it becomes farcical and it loses relevance.
Tsvangirai — more than probably half the people who have been declared heroes — deserved hero’s status.