By Tatenda Dewa | Harare Bureau |
There is uncertainty over where the late Cephas Msipa, a former cabinet minister and senior Zanu PF official who had turned critical of his former party, will be buried despite being declared a national hero.
Msipa was 85 at the time of his death and passed away on Monday in Harare after being hit by pneumonia.
His eldest son, Douglas, told the local private media that his father’s deathbed wish was to be buried next to his wife, Charlotte, at the Midlands provincial heroes’ cemetery.
However, President Robert Mugabe, who agreed to Msipa being made a national hero despite him being critical of the 92-year-old statesman since he retired from active politics several years ago, reportedly wants him to be interred at the Harare shrine.
Douglas said he was “devastated” that government still wanted his father buried at the National Heroes Acre following a meeting between the Msipa family and representatives of the Home Affairs ministry.
“I am devastated by the decision. The family and the people of Midlands will also be devastated It is not what we had expected as a family, as most people are aware of his wish,” he said.
Vice President Emmerson Mnangagwa attended the Msipa funeral wake in Harare on Monday and announced Mugabe’s decision to have the late Midlands provincial governor declared a national hero.
He added that the decision could not be reversed.
The bereaved family accepted the hero status that was conferred on the late Msipa but still hoped his death wish would be respected.
His other son, Cephas Jnr, told NewsDay: “What has been agreed is that our father will be taken to Zvishavane on Thursday (tomorrow), Gweru on Friday and a decision on where he will be buried is still to be made.”
He said his family was still consulting on the matter.
Transport minister and acting provincial chairperson for the Midlands, Joram Gumbo, confirmed Msipa had insisted he wanted to be buried next to his wife.
“He was so much in love with his wife. That is why he requested that,” said Gumbo, a Zanu PF politburo member.
He added: “As a party, we will consult the family and will respect its wishes. We shall make an announcement at party level when we release an itinerary detailing what will be happening from Thursday until the burial on Saturday.”
Following Msipa’s wish would present Zanu PF with an awkward dilemma because a national hero would be buried at a provincial cemetery. Nehanda Radio