Heroes belong to the people

via Heroes belong to the people | The Zimbabwean 04.06.14 by Editor

The new constitution, in Chapter 2 (National Objectives), recognises the role played by those who liberated Zimbabwe from colonial bondage. But it is sadly lacking when it comes to guiding the process of choosing heroes. This shortcoming calls for its revision to explicitly include a law that directs how government must identify and honour freedom fighters.

The recent decision by government not to confer one of Zimbabwe’s real sons of the soil, Wilfred Mhanda, aka Dzinashe Machingura, with hero status is just one more reason why there should be a definitive legal provision regarding war heroes.

There is no dispute around the role that Mhanda played in the fight for majority rule and independence. He worked closely with the late Solomon Mujuru, then the deputy to Josiah Magama Tongogara, in plotting the downfall of colonialism. He was a member of the Zanu High Command, a celebrated fighter and military trainer.

His only sin is that he decided to be his own man and was vocal against the likes of Robert Mugabe, the civilian leader of Zanu, and Zanla, its military wing. He would not shut up when he felt that his leaders were going astray. Because of that, he was labelled a rebel and was removed from his military position in 1977.

After independence in 1980, Mhanda continued to fight for real democracy and to expose the political charlatans that swamped the ruling party. Along the way, he made more enemies because of his forthright disposition.

It came as no surprise, therefore, when, upon his death, it was business as usual in Zanu (PF). “Who is Dzinashe Machingura?” was the arrogant question that one of his erstwhile comrades in arms, Rugare Gumbo, now the Zanu (PF) Secretary for Information, posed. What a sad development!

This is how the party has always treated vocal lieutenants – such as Edgar Tekere, Ndabaningi Sithole, Masipula Sithole and Thenjiwe Lesabe. If you dare to criticise, they throw you into history’s trash bin, preferring to move with “ever-obedient sons” only.

Most of us agree that the role of choosing our national heroes should not be left in the hands of one party. It should be an inclusive, national process. The new constitution should have addressed this. But it is not too late.

We would like to see an independent commission set up to address the complex question of national heroism. We need a law to spell out the composition of the commission – ensuring that it is independent – how it is chosen and its mandate.


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    How about recognition to the man who took the country to independence in 1965, and fought against Mugabe for 14 years as he knew what would happen if he and zanu came to be the government !!!!!!!!!

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      Ruramai 8 years ago

      Andy, it is because the man you are talking about decided to marginalise 90% of the population that we ended up with the likes of Mugabe getting involved in his overthrow. What is there to recognise about a man whose policies plunged the country into civil war?

      In essence, Zimbabwe was unfortunate to have lunatics like Ian Smith and Robert Mugabe at the helm. A more inclusive leader is what we need and sadly, both protagonists worked for the narrow interests of a select few.

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    Shamhu YeNhanzva 8 years ago

    If you criticize ZANU you lose all your rights as a Zimbabwean. Even the police that are sworn to serve & protect ALL citizens will look the other way if you are being attacked by “their” thugs. Worst part is they have completely hijacked the electoral process so you can’t even vote the ZANU gangsters out of office.

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    Maipisi 8 years ago

    A national debate on mechanisms to declare heroes’ status of citizens is essential. However,the preoccupation of the country for now is survival.

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      roving ambassador. 8 years ago

      For as long as Zanu is in power,forget about survival, its a self serving old people’s party with no vision for the future. Can any one expect a 90 year old to map a road to the future when the nearest one is the grave?
      For 34 years they have been leading us down the drain ,why should it change now.
      Wake up Zimbabweans

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        roving ambassador. 8 years ago

        You hero worshipped Zanu ,see what it got us into. Worship and they will not serve the people, you the people will serve them instead. Which is what is happening now.
        Wake up Zimbabwe.

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    machakachaka 8 years ago

    National hero status should be conferred by a non-poliical board that is answerable to parliament. At present the status is determined in a political meeting. The sacrifices made by deserving heroes is thus diminished in appeal by the process used to declare them heroes.

    What happens if Zanu pf ceases to be in power? Does the incoming governing party then take the responsibility to declare heroes? What type of people will they declare heroes. Are heroes going to be heroes depending on which political party would be in power at the time of their death?

    Zimbabweans, especially those in positions of power, should think about this, so that our genuine nation heroes are not reduced to party heroes.

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    Do we need this hero worshipping business at all? The dead should just get buried and remembered by their relatives-eish!