Posthumous declaration of heroes raises questions

The posthumous declaration of five men as heroes at the ZANU-PF politburo meeting by President Emmerson Mnangagwa Wednesday has further raised questions around the whole process which has always been criticised by many Zimbabweans for lacking transparency.

President Mnangagwa told his party’s highest decision-making body – the Politburo – he had declared Saul Gwakuba Ndlovu, former ZAPU director of information and publicity, Rabelani Choeni, former ZANU-PF Matabeleland South chairman, Elliot Ngwabi, and two academics Professor George Kahari and Professor Sheunesu Mupepereki national heroes posthumously.

All the five passed away in July but while their provinces had requested for the conferment of hero status on them, the government did not act on that until they were buried.

Recently MDC-T vice president, Dr Thokozani Khupe, took to task Defence and War Veterans Minister, Oppah Muchinguri over why Gwakuba was not declared a hero despite overwhelming evidence that he contributed to the country’s liberation struggle.

Muchinguri-Kashiri said the issue would be looked into, something which could have triggered the Wednesday conferment.

However, some people have questioned why the declaration came two months after the deceased had been buried while others questioned on social media why some people such as the late retired Brigadier-General Fidelis Satuku who also passed away in July was snubbed.

Satuku was implicated in badmouthing former Zimbabwe Defence Forces commander Constantino Chiwenga, now Vice President, in Wikileaks.

“The declaration by the regime posthumously of these heroes is testimony they have an agenda to suppress and obliterate the history and heroism of others for reasons that are both political as well as historical,” ZAPU spokesperson Iphithule Maphosa told CITE.

“ZANU PF feels dwarfed by ZAPU in every sense, especially where the history of the liberation struggle is involved. So what better way of distorting and even stealing that history than to play dirt with its stalwarts at stages such as these of their lives.”

He further said: “This vindicates us who have always questioned the criteria and the whole process of according hero status. It is just confirmation of our concerns of bias and deliberate disregard of ZAPU and other non-ZANU-PF members of our greater society’s contributions to the development of the country.”

The process of declaring persons heroes, Maphosa said, must be carried out in a manner that is not biased, “not partisan as well as not favouring any side.”

He added: “A neutral body must be put in place, with a mutual template that should be applied uniformly right across the board.”

Political analyst Mkhululi Tshuma said the development raises many questions.

“It just adds to the many tragic comic developments occurring in our nation,” said Tshuma.

“We have a government that lacks seriousness. The fact that their declaration comes as an afterthought, long after these men have been buried speaks volumes about them not being deserving of such a status. Genuine heroism doesn’t need anyone to zoom in or use a pair of binoculars to see it. It should be out in the open for all to attest to it.”

He said the action by ZANU-PF shows there is something fundamentally wrong about the process of according heroes status.

“These people were declared by the president alone if the statement I saw put it well,” he said.

“How can one person have the sole prerogative of making such a declaration really? They may have been his heroes but they can’t be forced on the whole nation. You can’t force me to accept someone’s hero as my hero. It shouldn’t be so. The current situation where it’s ZANU-PF that chooses who becomes a national hero is a very big joke.”

Tshuma said there should be a nonpartisan committee that thoroughly vets the works of an individual against particular agreed yardsticks to check if they measure up to the status.

He explained: “It should be based on what someone contributed to the development of our nation. Only then can we end this circus before us.”

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