via Hero status: Zanu PF not consistent – The Standard. 15 June 2014 by John Makura
Controversy surrounds the according of hero status to fallen Zimbabweans who distinguish themselves in various ways.
Opinion by John Makura
Soon after independence in 1980, Zanu PF came up with the criteria to be used to accord hero status to the fallen nationals. The main criterion was one’s “consistent” participation in the national liberation struggle. The other was one’s contribution to the development of the country after independence.
Thereafter, the Zanu PF Politburo has singlehandedly declared national heroes/heroines using the said criteria. Persistent and consistent suggestions by other political, economic, business and social interest groups that a non-partisan, national body be established to determine national hero status criteria and using set criteria, to accord national hero status, have contemptuously been ignored.
As a result, only Zanu PF members or those close to Politburo members have enjoyed hero statuses. Unfortunately, the Politburo has not been consistent in according the honour.
For instance, George Nyandoro was made a national hero, James Chikerema was not. Both were pioneers of the liberation struggle (going as far back as the 1950s) but they later joined Bishop Abel Muzorewa’s Zimbabwe-Rhodesia regime. Was Nyandoro more consistent than Chikerema? There are more questions than answers.
Nathan Shamuyarira who was buried as a national hero last week, was not consistent during the liberation struggle. In the early 1970s, he and Chikerema formed Front for the Liberation of Zimbabwe (Frolizi). Their motive was to destroy Zanu and Zapu.
When they failed, Shamuyarira went back to Zanu. President Robert Mugabe last week mentioned the anomaly in Shamuyarira’s political history.
Doctors Simon Mazorodze and Oliver Munyaradzi distinguished themselves by courageously treating liberation war fighters in the 1970s. Both served as ministers after independence. However, Mazorodze was declared a national hero, Munyaradzi was not.
Fibion John Shonhiwa and Sheba Tavarwisa (Wekwete), trained freedom fighters who held senior positions in Zanu PF and sacrificed their lives for Zimbabwe, were not declared national hero and heroine respectively.Were Joseph Culverwell and Border Gezi more deserving than these two?
Henry Hamadziripi, Crispen Mandizvidza, Noel Mukono and Ndabaningi Sithole were founder members of Zanu. Were differences among leaders reason enough to deny these four hero status? How come Chief Jeremiah Chirau was recognised as a hero despite his involvement with the Ian Smith regime?
Galant freedom fighters like James Nyikadzinashe, Everisto Mwatse, Victor Maunde, Dr Joseph Taderera, Wilfred Mhanda, etc, were not declared national heroes, again because of differences over strategy or other undisclosed issues.
The famous and noble policy of national reconciliation articulated by the then Prime Minister Robert Mugabe in 1980 did not seem to apply to black Zanu PF opponents. Most of those who crossed the party’s path would not be buried at the national shrine.
Why was Jairos Jiri not declared a national hero despite his contribution towards uplifting the plight of people with disabilities? He put them on the national map and his legacy lives on.
The above examples demonstrate inconsistencies in according hero status. It is simply because of narrow partisan interests.
Many Zimbabweans have distinguished themselves in politics, economics, business, scientific research, culture and other spheres. Some have excelled academically in foreign lands. Many more will perform exceptionally in future.
They do and will deserve due recognition by their own country, hence the need to set up an independent national body to perform a non-partisan national duty of according a deserved hero status to them.
Social justice demands that this should be done, otherwise history would judge the present leadership harshly. Leadership is judged by its magnanimity, principles, values and by the nature of legacy it leaves.