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Mutambara challenges PM on Sibanda hero status

FILABUSI – There was drama at the burial of the late MDC deputy president Gibson Sibanda in Filabusi Sunday, when Deputy Prime minister Arthur Mutambara publicly challenged Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai and Deputy President John Nkomo to explain why the government they lead was burying an exemplary hero of Sibanda’s stature at his rural home and not at the national heroes acre.

In a heated speech which sent the crowd into a frenzy, Mutambara switched to first name terms and asked them several times why the government failed to declare Sibanda a national hero even after voluntarily admitting that they are both “political creatures of his (Sibanda’s) creation”.

“You John Nkomo, deputy president of this country, you say you are a creature of Sibanda’s creation from the time you met him in the early days of the trade unions. Why then are we in Insiza? Why?” Mutambara challenged  Nkomo.

“You Morgan Tsvangirai, you have made a decision that this man is a national hero and you have openly said so. You have just admitted that he is your mentor, your creator in politics. Why are we in Filabusi? Why?.”

Mutambara said every Zimbabwean was convinced beyond doubt that Sibanda was a national hero and should have been buried at the national heroes’ acre, but it was disheartening to note that the inclusive government, which he said he was ashamed to be part of, had ignored that public wish and expectation.

“Gibson Sibanda was dignity personified, dignity walking, a creator of the liberators of Zimbabwe. John Nkomo is a creature of Sibanda’s creation. Morgan Tsvangirai is a creature of Sibanda’s creation. But this government and its presidents have a problem. We cannot allow a government that has no respect for the people of Zimbabwe, the people of Matabeleland,” Mutambara said.

In his address Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai described Sibanda as his creator and mentor from the trade union days, adding that there was no doubt that he was a national hero. 

“Heroes are not bestowed. Heroism is earned and those who sacrifice selflessly for their people deserve hero status. I know the majority of Zimbabweans have one determination and it is that Gibson Sibanda was a national hero,” the prime minister said.

Vice President John Nkomo did not address the hero status issue but described Sibanda as an exemplary leader, political colleague, a friend and a great gift to the country. He appealed to Zimbabweans to be calm and stop insulting each other and be willing to forgive. Sibanda was laid to rest at his rural home in Silalatshani area of Filabusi but the debate over the government’s failure to declare him a national hero rages on. Daily News