Three national heroes were buried at Heroes Acre this week for their contribution in the liberation struggle and post independent Zimbabwe.
Former Prisons boss Paradzai Zimondi is a veteran of the struggle and spent 22 years at the Zimbabwe Prisons and Correctional Services.
The late Foreign Affairs minister Sibusiso Moyo joined the liberation struggle as a teenager and rose through the ranks in the military in post independent Zimbabwe and took over as Zimbabwe’s top diplomat in 2017.
The late Transport and Infrastructural Development minister Joel Biggie Matiza made his name as a renowned architect who designed some of the national projects.
The burial of the trio comes a week after the remains of Manicaland Provincial Affairs minister Ellen Gwaradzimba and nationalist Moton Malianga were interred at the national shrine.
It also comes more than a week after former Dare ReChimurenga secretary of administration Mukudzei Mudzi was denied national hero’s status, joining other nationalists such as Ndabaningi Sithole, Henry Hamadziripi, Dzino Machingura, James Chikerema, Lookout Masuku and Thenjiwe Lesabe on the snubbed list.
Mudzi got a State-assisted funeral. The failure by Zanu PF to accord hero’s status on some decorated nationalists has drawn criticism.
Critics say Zanu-PF’s stranglehold in determining who is a hero or not has led to the snubbing of real heroes in favour of loyalists whose rise to fame is toeing the party line, bootlick the leadership of the party or are more vocal in attacking the opposition MDC as puppets or sell-outs.
Each time the governing Zanu PF is confronted on the seemingly biased according of hero’s status, it would tell those that cared to listen the shrine was for patriots and not sell –outs, in an apparent reference to the opposition MDC.
At the burial of former Dare ReChimurenga member, Kumbirai Kangai, the late President Robert Mugabe vowed that Zanu PF would permanently enjoy the unilateral right to declare heroes.
“Hero’s status will only be conferred on Zanu PF dedicated cadres committed to the country’s cause. Those who claim to want to be conferred hero’s status must construct their own shrines to bury their own heroes,” Mugabe said.
This has seen some veterans of the struggle declaring they don’t want to be buried at Heroes Acre. Welshman Mabhena and Dumiso Dabengwa.
Cephas Msipa and Edgar Tekere’s wishes not to be buried at Heroes Acre were disregarded by Mugabe.
Ironically, Mugabe snubbed the national shrine and was buried at his rural home in Kutama.
In a paper, An analysis of the National Heroes Conferment in Zimbabwe, music critic Benjamin Nyandoro argues the primary discontentment by rivalry political players to Zanu PF, chiefly the MDC, is on the partisan approach taken by Zanu PF, where its Politburo exclusively decides whether to confer on not, in the event of a death. The discontent extends to whether the person in question deserves the decision made by Zanu PF.
The recent expression of discontentment has been in form of pre-emptive boycott, where a prominent person chooses to be buried elsewhere regardless of the Politburo decision, he said.
Nyandoro proposed four policy options.
He proposed the establishment of an autonomous body with all stakeholders’ representation that is governed by a set of well-defined principles and procedural guidelines.
Another option is for Parliament to accord national hero and heroine status. He proposed proportional representation of all political parties in a conferring temporary body only set up to confer in the event of a death.
The fourth option Nyandoro proposed is the maintenance of the status quo in which the Zanu PF politburo decides who is a hero or not.
This last option was used by the Mugabe administration and the baton has been passed to the Emmerson Mnangagwa’s administration. �