By Bulawayo Correspondent
THE opposition Zapu party reacted with fury this week after the government decided to vice president Constantino Chiwenga’s late sister a State assisted funeral.
The party says “deserving veterans” of its liberation military wing ZIPRA have been denied national hero status by the Zanu PF led government on numerous occasions.
Under former president Robert Mugabe, the ruling party ignored widespread criticism of the partisan national hero determination process.
The veteran leader famously told those aggrieved to establish their separate shrines where they could honour their heroes.
Chiwenga’s sister Margret Machekabuwe, a war Zanla war veterans, died in Marondera on Sunday.
She was buried at her farm on Tuesday with the State sponsoring the funeral.
Zapu spokesperson Ipithule Maphosa said by honouring Chiwenga’s civilian sister, the government has proved its partisanship as well as segregation of former ZIPRA cadres from State schemes and programmes.
“As Zapu, we are shocked that this government has the audacity of funding Chiwenga’s civilian sister’s funeral expenses while failing to honour ZIPRA liberation war heroes,” he said.
“We have got senior ZIPRA commanders like Sazwini Ndlovu, Richard Dube and others who deserved to be declared national heroes but were denied the status simply because they were fighting on the wrong side according to people like Chiwenga and his Zanu PF (party).
“The government even failed to fund their funeral expenses. Surely, this is an abuse of state institutions.”
Tribalism and nepotism
Ndlovu, a senior Zapu leader and Dube, former ZIPRA commissar were buried at Lady Stanley Cemetery in Bulawayo.
They were refused the honour of national hero status which comes with the privilege of burial at the national shrine in Harare.
Other Zapu and ZIPRA heroes who also lie at the cemetery include Thenjiwe Lesabe and Lookout Makusu.
Maphosa accused the government of tribalism and nepotism.
“When the government decides to honour its vice president’s sister and ignore Ndebele nationalists, surely that is tribalism at its best.
“Chiwenga described her late sister as a war collaborator, but how many war collaborators who have died and have not received a single cent from the state?
“Zapu views this as the political chicanery of the decade.”
Economic Reform Assembly (ERA) leader Amos Dangwa also condemned the government’s decision to honour Chiwenga’s sister.
“We have a lot of deserving heroes in this country who have been denied the national hero status just because they are not Zanu PF supporters,” he said.
“The vice president has a lot of resources and he could have simply buried his beloved sister without involving tax payers’ money.
“Right now, civil servants are clamouring for a salary increment but the government is busy funding funerals of relatives of government leaders; that is not good.”