Family angered as Zanu PF snubs war hero
By Jeffrey Muvundusi
Family members of the late Kiliyon Sonke Babuyile Bhebhe, 90, are not happy that Zanu PF has shot down proposals that he be declared a national hero. Bhebhe died in Chinhoyi last Tuesday.
The party’s politburo turned down an application by Zanu PF’s Mashonaland West province to honour the liberation war veteran who was then seconded to the late Vice President Joshua Nkomo.
“The whole family is angry by such treatment, they (Zanu PF) are seriously undermining the efforts of a true hero,” said a family member.
“As it stands in Mashonaland West no one is worthy to be buried at the national shrine if this man is not buried there.
“The whole provincial leadership gathered at the farm today (yesterday) only to be shocked by the decision … everyone is angry but you know Zanu PF no one can say anything lest you will be thrown to the wolves,” another family member said.
Angered by the move, the family snubbed the provincial hero status offer opting to bury Bhebhe, a Zanu PF central committee member at his Nyakarange Farm near Chinhoyi today at 10am.
“Right now the family has decided to bury him at the farm rather than the disrespect and indecency of the provincial shrine.”
Zanu PF Mashonaland West province chairperson Ziyambi Ziyambi had written a letter to the Politburo recommending Bhebhe’s national hero status.
Ziyambi told the Daily News that he was not aware that the family had rejected the provincial hero status.
“I am hearing it from you that they (family) have rejected the provincial status, they didn’t tell me. The place of burial is determined by the relatives. When they were told that he had been declared a provincial hero they accepted, and they also accepted government assistance on the funeral,” Ziyambi said.
He said the determination of a hero status was done by government through the Politburo while as a provincial chairperson he only took instructions from his bosses.
But the family members were not amused at Zanu PF and government’s conduct.
“Imagine the acting president has until today not sent a condolence message. Now we know why they took that decision, they know nothing about Bhebhe’s history.
“The truth is we are very bitter, so far only three ministers including former Senate President Edinah Madzongwe are the only ones who have paid tribute to Bhebhe.”
Pictures in possession of this publication show Bhebhe together with many veterans of the struggle such as Nkomo, Lookout Masuku and Simon Muzenda among others.
Zipra veterans spokesperson Buster Magwizi yesterday had no kind words for the Zanu PF government’s decision to deny Bhebhe his well-deserved status, describing the move as an insult to the history of the liberation struggle.
“Bhebhe has a very significant position in the history of Zimbabwe especially the liberation struggle,” Magwizi told Daily News.
“He was never in the army but was a leading politician in the 1970s who also led to the formation of the African National Council (ANC) led by Bishop Abel Muzorewa.
“I remember he was the one who dealt with Lord Pierce Commission that had been sent by the British government to try and pacify the then Rhodesian struggle for the emancipation of the people as well as try to negotiate for the release of Nkomo and Mugabe who were then separately imprisoned,” he said.