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Matiza doesn’t deserve national hero status, monument losing meaning: Mliswa

By Nyashadzashe Ndoro | Nehanda Politics |

Outspoken Norton MP (independent) Temba Mliswa has rebuked President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s administration for conferring national hero status to the late Transport Minister Joel Biggie Matiza (60) who succumbed to the deadly coronavirus on Friday.

Temba Mliswa
Temba Mliswa

Defence and War Veterans Affairs Minister and Zanu PF National Chairperson Oppah Muchinguri-Kashiri made a declaration that Matiza, the Zanu PF chairman for Mashonaland East, and Major General Paradzai Zimondi (74) be awarded hero status after both succumbed to Covid-19.

Last week, Zimbabwe lost Foreign Affairs minister Sibusiso Moyo who also succumbed to Covid-19 was also declared a national hero.

In a series of threads on his microblogging Twitter handle, Mliswa argued that Matiza was not part of the liberation struggle when Zimbabwe attained its independence in 1980 hence he could not be awarded national hero status.

Mliswa added that the site had lost its meaning given the fact that late founding leaders like Dumiso Dabengwa and Robert Mugabe were not buried there.

Transport Minister Joel Biggie Matiza has died from Covid-19

When Mugabe died in 2019, his family rejected a national status arguing that the founding Zanu PF leader had instructed them to bury him in his rural area, Zvimba.

“I have no problem with the late JB Matiza, who was a hardworking Minister. However, the conferring of hero status on him becomes a problem when one realises epic war veterans like Dumiso Dabengwa are not there. The inconsistencies are just shocking,” Mliswa said.

“Is this the start of a changing criteria considering JB was never part of the struggle? He could have been made a provincial hero, yes but having overlooked other meritorious war veterans only to confer some like JB is shocking. What is the criteria now? Is there even one?

“No wonder Mugabe refused to be buried there, the place has lost meaning due to politicisation. There are many war veterans, ZAPU people, not buried there but have enough credentials. Taifunga kuti zvekuHeroes zvine zera, it appears that’s not the case yangove ndonga ndonga.

“An oversight, yes Dabengwa was made a hero but the point remains the absence of a national criteria, solid and recognisable is making Heros Acre meaningless. The criteria cannot be a wavering and politicised template tinkered with at a whim,” he added.

Mnangagwa on Thursday last week, presided over the burial at the National Heroes Acre of Manicaland Provincial Affairs and Devolution Minister Ellen Gwaradzimba (60) and and Zanu PF Central Committee member Morton Dizzy Paul Malianga (91) who died last week.

Gwaradzimba succumbed to Covid-19, while Malianga (91) had been ill for some time.