By Tatenda Dewa | Harare Bureau |
The Morgan Tsvangirai-led Movement for Democratic Change (MDC-T) is likely to attend the burial of Cephas Msipa, a former provincial governor for Midlands and cabinet minister under the Zanu PF government.
MDC-T has in the past complained bitterly that Zanu PF monopolised the selection of national heroes, even during the 2009-2013 coalition government and attending the burial would be seen as endorsing Zanu PF’s partisan selection of heroes.
Msipa died from pneumonia recently at 85 and had turned into a critic of President Robert Mugabe after retiring from active politics.
The burial will take place on Saturday.
Douglas Mwonzora, the MDC-T secretary general, confirmed plans for his party leadership to attend the burial at the national heroes’ cemetery after Msipa was declared a national hero by Mugabe.
According to Vice President Emmerson Mnangagwa, Mugabe directed Zanu PF to declare Msipa a national hero at the airport as he was about to leave for Madagascar on official business.
“Some of our leaders will definitely attend the burial,” Mwonzora told the daily newspaper, NewsDay.
He could not confirm Tsvangirai’s presence at the national shrine on Saturday, but said his boss was keen to attend.
“The president (Tsvangirai) is coming back tomorrow (Friday) from his routine treatment (in South Africa) and I am sure he would want to attend. However, we are aware that Mugabe might want to use the platform to humiliate him, but Tsvangirai would be very willing to be part of the proceedings,” he said.
Obert Gutu, the MDC-T information and publicity secretary, said the main opposition party was making arrangements for Tsvangirai to attend.
“Plans are already in place for the president to attend the late national hero Msipa’s burial. Our leader is currently out of the country, but he would certainly love to be one of the mourners at the national shrine, when the late Msipa will be laid to rest,” he said.
Another opposition stalwart, Rugare Gumbo, who is related to Msipa, said he would attend.
Gumbo is now a senior member of Zimbabwe People First (ZimPF) led by Joice Mujuru, Mugabe’s former deputy who was expelled from Zanu PF for allegedly plotting to unseat the 92-year-old statesman.
He was on Wednesday seen grinning as Mugabe greeted mourners at Msipa’s funeral wake in Harare.
Gumbo has mysteriously gone quiet in ZimPF, having started off as the movement’s spokesperson.
“I definitely will be attending. He (Mugabe) just paid his condolences. He and his wife were very courteous. They understand my relationship with the late Msipa. I do not think there is any need for us to hate each other because we have had differences in political opinion,” said Gumbo.
Two other opposition leaders, Simba Makoni (Mavambo/Kusile/Dawn) and Dumiso Dabengwa (Zapu) said they would not be at the National Heroes Acre but would send their condolences to the Msipa family. Nehanda Radio