By Kurauone Chihwayi
Thank you Mr President and your team for the conferment of Liberation War Hero status on Soul SOUL Jah Love Musaka although the decision was met with mixed feelings.
I would like to thank you again for the conferment of national hero status on our late former deputy commissioner Moses Griffith Mpofu whose name was wrongly pronounced by some senior Zanu people including yours truly as Moses Gift Mpofu.
The Mpofu hero status did not come as a shock to me and many others but it is the Musaka status that sent tongues wagging and boggled the minds of many. I have no hidden vendetta against the late singer given that I didn’t know any one of his songs except the television licensing advert.
The explanations we got were not satisfactory and many were left with questions over the criteria used to accord hero status on individuals like the late dancehall star.
The authorities need to answer the question that has been on the board for some time about ‘Who is a hero?’ We lost many talented musicians like John Chibadura, Biggie Tembo, Leonard Dembo, System Tazvida, Paul Matavire and others who hogged the music limelight for years but until today nothing has been said posthumously about these music heroes of our time.
You may not say it today cdes but it is now clear that hero status is accorded according to party affiliation. You have to be Zanu PF to be accorded some hero status. Great trade unionists and champions of democracy like Gibson Sibanda and Morgan Richard Tsvangirai were given state assisted funerals but were never honoured for their roles because they were not Zanu PF but a dancehall star born in 1989 is accorded liberation war hero status presumably to mobilise for the 2023 votes which in my view is too cheap to believe.
The government, department or party that honours heroes should spare a thought on the effects of their decisions to society, history and future generations. Soul Jah Love was a great musician and a darling of the new generation including my own children but why him alone?
Dr Oliver Mtukudzi was an unquestionable national hero who was a non partisan musician but accorded national hero status and he cannot be equated to Soul Musaka whose hero status torched a storm. Simon Chimbetu is lying at the Mashonaland West Provincial Heroes Acre because of his Zanu PF links.
We need to urgently define a hero today because if we keep the matter under wraps we risk making these burial spaces irrelevant and useless. There must be an independent selection panel that looks beyond political party affiliation when according hero status of any level.
Soul Jah Love was a Zanu PF member who at one pointed was illegally offered a residential stand by some Zanu PF aligned land barons in Marimba which he built and later razed down by some other unknown forces. No one disputes the sentiment that “Chibaba zvaiva zvinhu” and no one is jealous about the status accorded on the youthful singer. The manner in which hero status is conferred on heroes will continue to divide society and discredit the responsible authorities.
If I think about Leonard Musorowenyoka Dembo and many others my heart bleeds and wonder on whether the country has a concerned leadership with a penchant to unite the nation through fair play.
We have many sons and daughters who perished during the liberation struggle like Smokey Jecherere but the families did not receive anything or consoled except through the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier which to me is an insult to remember such a comrade who until today is lying at a family anthill in Chivi without recognition even though the government knows where he died and how he was killed by the Rhodesians. We pretend not to know when we know the truth about heroes ‘Kunyepera kuzungaira’.
The Griffith Mpofu status was done out of fear of the unknown as Zanu PF battles to control the damage caused by Gukurahundi atrocities which remains a thorn in the flesh. Robert Mugabe was interred at his Zvimba rural home and Oliver Mtukudzi is resting in Madziwa because of the national shrine”s lack of dignity and respect as a result of the rotten apples lying there.
Edgar Tekere was forced to Harare in death but had publicly said he does not want to be buried at the national heroes acre. Mugabe had to sweat to convince the Cephas Msipa family to accept the Harare burial when the family had refused. Mugabe had to use his mother’s totem links to bury Msipa at the national shrine. Chief Vezi Maduna Mafu was denied national hero status because he was not Zanu PF to the marrow.
The hero status is for scholars and Zanu PF lickers given by individuals who think politically without any trace of shame. What defines a hero cdes? You also need to rephrase the Liberation War Hero status to distinguish the difference between war time heroes and philanthropists that are using political influence and money to shine over poor genuine heroes.
I remember Didymus Mutasa on a Radio 3 programme when he was secretary for administration saying ‘the national hero status is based on the participation of the person in the liberation struggle’.
Even Robert Mugabe used to say heroes acre ndeye magamba echimurenga, mufundisi uyu munhu akanaka zvikuru asi haavigwi pano ‘Heroes acre is reserved for liberation war heroes but today everything has changed to the extent that even Mugabe himself shunned the shrine. Today we have a heroes acre without Mugabe himself because he had become MDC Alliance at the eleventh hour.
Where is Lookout Masuku, Mukudzei Midzi, Dzinashe Machingura aka Wilfred Mhanda, Ndabaningi Sithole and Dumiso Dabengwa if we want to add value to the Harare shrine? Why are they not at the national heroes acre today?
If President Mnangagwa wants the nation to heal he must explain the failure to bestow national hero status on some former Zapu and Zipra commanders like Thenjiwe Lesabe, Lookout Masuku, Welshman Mabhena, Jini Ntuta, Crispan Masuku, Isaac Nyathi, Swazini Ndlovu, Richard Dube and Ethan Dube.
Failure to talk about these people will haunt the regime. This again tells us that the Unity accord was fictitious and current events are rapidly unraveling the truth, clearing the air on circumstances that forced Dabengwa, Mkandla and others to go back to their Zapu base after the unity accord in 1987 which again seem to be dead.
We are not accusing self proclaimed election winners if it is within their syllabus, interpretation and translation depends on the crafted set of rules or framework.
The Zanu PF administration under Mugabe and Mnangagwa has betrayed the late comrades including Josiah Magama Tongogara who stood for justice and fair play. The country’s leadership should revisit the unfinished post- war business instead of pretending not to know anything.
The National Peace and Reconciliation Commission seems to be operating on a knife edge because some decisions made by Zanu PF are a recipe for disaster in the near future. The NPRC is too silent on the mistakes being made by those in the corridors of power.
Are they socked in the armpits of the ruling party Zanu PF or they are zipped? The NPRC should chicken out of the conflict brewing process, they must speak up now and stop the rot instead of preserving political interests by keeping quiet.
Some commissioners in some chapter 12 commissions resigned and no explanations were comprehensively given except the supersonic gap filling that we saw. We are now smelling a rat cdes.
I recently attended an NPRC workshop at their offices as part of a delegation from my political party that is outside government and looking at the composition of the commission I exonerated them of any deliberate misfiring.
They are trying to be as inclusive as possible but you smell fear in the corridors despite assurances that everybody was safe. At some point achievements of these commissions need to be made public and commissioners made to confess any harassment by some obscure forces.
The hero status is rapidly brewing divisions and conflicts in our eyes and the bomb will one day explode if we continue to confine it to a political party with its own definition of heroes.
Kurauone Chihwayi can be reached on firstname.lastname@example.org