Late liberation stalwart and veteran musician, Dickson “Cde Chinx” Chingaira, became a victim of Zanu PF’s internecine succession struggles after the party denied him the coveted national hero status on account of having been sympathetic to expelled former vice president Joice Mujuru, the Daily News On Sunday can reveal.
Cde Chinx who died in Harare on June 16 after succumbing to cancer, was buried at the Glen Forest cemetery on Friday after his family passed on the chance to inter him at the Harare Provincial Heroes Acre.
Cabinet ministers snubbed his burial.
His body had been kept at a Harare funeral parlour for six days as Cde Chinx’s family had hoped Zanu PF would declare him a national hero, but that was not to be.
After days of intense debate and hesitancy over his status, a deeply-divided Zanu PF decided to go against popular sentiment by declaring him a liberation war hero, resulting in the eruption of public anger.
Highly-placed sources said Cde Chinx could not be declared a national hero because he rubbed the authorities the wrong way on so many occasions, hence the absence of President Robert Mugabe and his two deputies, Emmerson Mnangagwa and Phelekezela Mphoko, at his funeral held over eight days.
In October 2014, Cde Chinx was among guests who attended a party hosted by the then vice president in Dotito, Mount Darwin, to celebrate her getting a PhD, before she was brutally expelled from Zanu PF, two months later.
He attended the party along with former Mujuru allies who included ex Zanu PF spokesperson Rugare Gumbo, gospel musician Elias Musakwa, the late ruling party Harare provincial chairperson Amos Midzi, former national political commissar Webster Shamu, Chitungwiza South Member of Parliament Christopher Chigumba and Simon Khaya Moyo.
The late Cde Chinx even sang a song at the gathering where he exalted Mujuru with lyrics:“Mai Mujuru vakanganisa here, haiwa havana kukanganisa (Did Mujuru err? No, she didn’t’ err”, and joined the police band to play the song in full.
Zanu PF insiders said while Cde Chinx had survived the brutal purges that saw Mujuru and senior officials linked to her being expelled or suspended from Zanu PF, the former vice president’s contribution to the construction of his Malbereign home, also incensed top officials in the ruling party.
Cde Chinx was built a house by fellow war veteran and Mugabe’s photographer, Joseph Nyadzayo, in appreciation of his role in the liberation struggle and music industry.
Nyadzayo built the home under the auspices of the Zimbabwe Music Awards (Zima), a not-for-profiting organisation that rewards outstanding musicians.
At the handover ceremony, Nyadzayo told guests who included First Lady Grace Mugabe, that Mujuru had donated bricks that were used to construct the Sentosa house.
Cde Chinx also became a pain in the authorities’ backside in the run-up to the 2008 elections because he did not condemn Simba Makoni of Mavambo/Kusile/Dawn movement, who had broken ranks with Mugabe two months before the crucial harmonised polls in which the Zanu PF leader trailed behind Morgan Tsvangirai of the MDC in the first round of the poll.
The former Finance minister, who hails from the same Makoni District in Manicaland with Cde Chinx and shares the same “Nyati” totem with him, garnered eight percent of the 2008 presidential vote, trailing behind Mugabe and Tsvangirai. The poll had to be decided by a run-off, won by Mugabe, after Tsvangirai pulled out of the race, citing widespread violence against his officials and supporters.
On Tuesday, as Zanu PF dithered on Cde Chinx’s hero status, bigwigs took conflicting positions, influenced by factional and tribal inclinations.
Those opposed to his interment at the national shrine could not raise the real reasons behind their refusal, conveniently arguing that the party had set a precedence when it denied another former musician and Zipra cadre, Give Nare, the same status when he died after independence.
Nare and his choir’s recordings were destroyed by security agents in the early 1980s while their music was banned on ZBC for fear of inciting PF Zapu supporters as the country went through one of its darkest periods.
Contacted for comment on Friday, Khaya Moyo, said he could not comment on a decision already passed by the politburo.
“The message that I convey is that which comes out of the politburo and a position has already been taken that Cde Chinx is a provincial liberation war hero hence I will not be able to say anything else beyond that,” Khaya Moyo told the Daily News On Sunday.
Former liberation war commander, retired colonel Bastian Beta, who is now a senior official in Mujuru’s party, however, said that Chinx was a victim of Mugabe’s growing distaste for war veterans in general.
“It should be noted that of late Mugabe has developed a negative attitude towards us war veterans and he no longer takes us as worthy human beings because he thinks he alone is right but we don’t care because we have moved on.
“While it could be vindictiveness on the part of Mugabe, it should be noted that what has befallen Cde Chinx befell others before him and all that is because of the way national hero status is conferred which is wrong.
“It should be a committee in which war veterans are part of (which should confer the status) because they know who did what but with the likes of (Ignatius) Chombo and (Saviour) Kasukuwere at the forefront of deciding who did what during a war they were not part of, war veterans should just forget about fairness,” said Beta.
Tsvangirai’s MDC accused Mugabe of being vindictive.
“His intense personal hatred for Ndabaningi Sithole, Crispen Mandizvidza, Henry Hamadziripi and Simpson Mutambanengwe made sure that these gallant and illustrious nationalists were not declared national heroes when they died.
“Mugabe neither forgets nor forgives and Cde Chinx might have crossed the line by being perceived to be a Mujuru loyalist.
“Mujuru supplied bricks that built Chinx’s house in Sentosa and Mugabe knows about this and he isn’t particularly happy about it,” said MDC spokesperson, Obert Gutu.
Emotions have been running high since Cde Chinx was denied the national hero status, with matters coming to a head on Tuesday evening when angry relatives and war veterans confronted Cabinet minister Tshinga Dube when he visited the Chingaira home to deliver the politburo’s decision.
Cde Chinx’s family members and war veterans had hoped that last Wednesday’s politburo meeting would reverse its decision to the extent that a selected group of emissaries camped on the Zanu PF headquarters’ eighth floor in the vain hope Mugabe would give them audience.
The decision to deny Cde Chinx national hero status did not sit well with the opposition MDC whose MPs called for a special parliamentary sitting last Friday to declare him a national hero.
Kuwadzana East legislator Nelson Chamisa on Thursday raised a point of privilege calling upon the acting National Assembly Speaker Rueben Marumahoko to call for that special sitting.
“It has arisen that one of our war veterans was made a provincial hero but we must as Parliament intervene and say as far as we are concerned Chinx was a national hero not one for the provincial shrine.
“As Parliament we must stand to defend the Constitution against any considerations that are not in line with its provisions and I kindly move that Parliament must sit tomorrow (Friday) to consider that and I am waiting for your ruling,” said Chamisa.
After being declared a liberation war hero, Cde Chinx’s family opted to bury him at the Glen Forest cemetery.
Ordinarily Cde Chinx would have been buried at the Harare Provincial Heroes Acre at the Warren Hills cemetery, although families of liberation war heroes are allowed to exercise other options, but still burying their loved with military honours befitting such occasions. Daily News