Sibangilizwe Nkomo has every right to demand the exhumation of his father, Joshua Nkomo, from the National Heroes Acre for reburial in Kezi as he is simply following the late revolutionary’s wish, some citizens have said.
Nkomo died on July 1, 1999, and almost 23 years later, Sibangilizwe, who is now the ZAPU leader says he wants to honour his father’s wish.
His latest public utterances were made at a memorial service of the late ZAPU leader, Dr Dumiso Dabengwa in Ntabazinduna on Monday.
The call has received support from ZAPU and some citizens.
Discussing the issue on CITE’s Twitter Space, This Morning on Asakhe, the participants said Zanu PF politics had tainted Nkomo’s legacy.
“Sibangilizwe Nkomo has every right to have this conversation even with his family because if Joshua Nkomo’s family had refused for him to be buried there, there would have been the first family to do that and we have always heard how the State has always intimidated families after the death of National heroes,” said one participant.
He said when the Mugabe family refused for him to be buried at National heroes’ acre, it opened up the whole conversation about who gets to be buried at heroes’ acre.
“The Nkomo family has every right to exhume his body and go and bury him where they want or where he requested to be buried because remember Joshua Nkomo was treated as a traitor by ZANU-PF after Independence because he wanted reconciliation, got into Unity Accord for the good of the country,” he said.
“You hear people saying Sibangilizwe is using that for his political Capital but at the end of the day it’s his father, it’s the Nkomo family that has to decide where to bury their father.”
Another participant said the state betrayed Nkomo and what he stood for.
“The family was arm twisted and as we saw it with Mugabe family, they still try to get his remains to the heroes acre and what is the reason when clearly they failed to uphold especially in Dr Nkomo’s situation, they betrayed him and what he stood for,” she said.
Professor Shepherd Mpofu also weighed into the debate pointing at the importance of shrines in the post-conflict era.
“What Sibangilizwe brings across is the problems associated with failures of creating Zimbabwe as a people. We knew that he didn’t want to be buried at National Heroes Acre but because of national cohesion, the need to create this United Zimbabwe, and the euphoria that actually comes after his death where every Zimbabwean is sort of seeming United, it was befitting for him to buried at the National Shrine,” said Mpofu.
“I think the Nkomo family should have challenged that act then but again Mugabe wanted to preside over Nkomo’s dead body and weaponize it for his political agenda which he has successfully done for a long time at that shrine,” he said.
However, another participant said there is a need for the family to clarify why they want to exhume him 23 years later.
“What impact does this have, we know that most of the time this becomes Matabeleland’s struggle, and do we want to continue with that line,” she said.