By Pamela Shumba
The Deputy Minister of Defence and War Veterans’ Affairs, Victor Matemadanda, yesterday said Robert Mugabe’s family had no right to bar him from attending the former leader’s funeral because Government protocol allows him to.
This comes after Mugabe’s family reportedly requested that Matemadanda and Defence and War Veterans’ Affairs Minister Oppah Muchinguri-Kashiri should not attend Mugabe’s funeral.
Mugabe passed away in Singapore at the age of 95 on Friday last week and will be buried at the National Heroes’ Acre on Sunday.
Addressing war veterans and church leaders at a Zimbabwe Amalgamated Churches (ZACC) meeting in Bulawayo yesterday, Matemadanda, who is also the Zanu-PF National Political Commissar, said while it was not a big issue to him, the family had no right to stop him from attending the funeral.
“For as long as the family has agreed that Cde Mugabe is a national hero, they can’t stop me because Government protocol allows me to attend the funeral. They don’t know what they’re talking about.
“I will not join a fight over a dead man. Where I come from we don’t brag over the dead but we mourn them,” said Matemadanda.
He said in African culture, it was taboo to fight before a family member has been buried.
“I don’t know what the elders in Cde Mugabe’s community in Zvimba say about this. But this person whose funeral they’re refusing to let me attend forgave the people who jailed and tortured him during the liberation struggle,” said Matemadanda.
He said he was convinced that whatever he told Mugabe when they disagreed was not based on gossip or hearsay but the truth.
“For those who may not know, when I started resisting what our leader was doing, I did not just do it. We actually spoke about it. Unfortunately he’s gone and he’s not here to testify.
“I booked an appointment with him and I told him that I was not in agreement with some of the things he was doing. We spoke at length,” said Matemadanda.
“I worked under Cde Mugabe for a long time and people who are saying I should not attend his funeral don’t know when I started working with him.
“Although I was low in the party, I worked with Cde Mugabe at critical stages of the revolution where they didn’t come themselves to defend their own. We could not by principle allow him free rein when we knew that we had not agreed on some of the things that were now happening in the party”.
He said after all has been said and done, Mugabe remains his leader together with those who served under him.
“Even when we disagreed on some issues, we never doubted his capacity, leadership qualities and his contribution to the liberation struggle and the development of the country. But when the truth has to be said, we should not bury our heads in the sand,” Matemadanda said.
Matemadanda was in 2016 arrested with other war veterans on charges of undermining the authority of the then President Mugabe.
This was after he had shown solidarity with the then association’s spokesperson, Douglas Mahiya, who was facing similar charges.
In 2017, Matemadanda told Mugabe to respect war veterans after the former President said that former freedom fighters were not special in the ruling Zanu-PF party. The Chronicle