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What makes a Zimbabwean hero?

She was later to join a high-powered Zimbabwe African People’s Union (Zapu) delegation which attended the ground-breaking 1979 Lancaster House conference which paved the way for Zimbabwe’s 1980 independence.

YET another stalwart of Zimbabwe’s 1970s bloody and bitter guerrilla war against colonial rule has passed on aged 78.

This committed cadre of Zimbabwe’s struggle for independence is none other than Eunice Sandi Moyo who partook in the country’s liberation effort under the Zambia-based Zimbabwe People’s Liberation Army (Zipra), one of the two guerrilla war fighter groups which wedged a 10-year-long bush war against the Ian Smith white-minority regime.

She was later to join a high-powered Zimbabwe African People’s Union (Zapu) delegation which attended the ground-breaking 1979 Lancaster House conference which paved the way for Zimbabwe’s 1980 independence.

It then comes as a real shock that Sandi Moyo, having been one of a few notable heroines of the country’s fight for freedom has been denied hero status. She did not even make the grade to be accorded a district heroine in her rural birthplace of Bulilima.

Despite having played an instrumental role in helping Zimbabwe to gain freedom from colonial oppression, President Emmerson Mnangagwa decided to recognise her fearless “outstanding services to our nation” by honouring her with a mere “State-assisted funeral and burial”.

Yet in his condolence message President Mnangagwa acknowledged and described the dedicated lady as: “A staunch, veteran nationalist who was intimately involved with the politics of the liberation of our country, the late Amai Moyo will be remembered for her sterling services to Metropolitan Bulawayo province and to our entire nation under the first republic.

President Mnangagwa went on to say that after the country’s 1980 independence: “The late Comrade Sandi worked exceptionally hard to rally communities for national community development, thus anticipating our policy on devolution which has become the centrepiece of the second republic and the vehicle for spatially balanced and community-specific development which leaves no one and no place behind.”

As some of us mourn the loss of this determined nationalist, we cannot help but grieve over the apparent skewed nature of how the country’s hero statuses are decided, which appears to be bent on belittling those who fought for Zimbabwe’s independence under Zipra and Zapu.

Sandi Moyo joins a long list of Zipra and Zapu cadres who have been denied hero status, which we are afraid to say, is increasingly making a mockery of the country’s entire hero status criteria.

The case of Sandi Moyo and others makes us dare ask: What makes a Zimbabwean hero?

What rule book is being used to determine our heroes and heroines when people like Sandi Moyo are denied the honour, yet people born well after independence like Soul Muzavazi Musaka — otherwise known as Soul Jah Love, were accorded liberation war hero status?

That Sandi Moyo could not even make the grade of a district hero is gut-wrenching, to say the least, which makes us demand that there be clearly defined criteria for one to be declared a hero or heroine.

In the absence of clear criteria, we might as well be forgiven for concluding that for one to be declared a hero or heroine they have to belong to the ruling Zanu PF party since Sandi Moyo  left the ruling party to become a member of the Zimbabwe Patriotic Front  (ZPF) in her later political career.

But her joining ZPF never erased her contribution to the country’s liberation because it is not treasonous to join a political party of one’s choice. In fact, her joining the Zanu PF offshoot demonstrated that she was a true fighter for political freedom.

However, may Sandi Moyo truly rest in eternal peace, rest assured that no one will ever rub out the role she played in the liberation and development of Zimbabwe.

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