Former president Robert Mugabe might lose the privilege of being buried at the prestigious National Heroes Acre where those considered to have contributed immensely to the country’s liberation and country’s development are interred.
Zanu-PF is up in arms with its former first secretary over his links to the National Patriotic Front (NPF), a new opposition political outfit, mainly constituted of Zanu-PF rebels.
Mugabe, who resigned from power in November last year after 37 years had all along been touted as an icon of Zimbabwe – at least by those in the ruling Zanu-PF party – hence his burial at the Heroes Acre was automatic.
However, following his resignation, the feeling among the ruling Zanu-PF party has changed as he is now being accused of betraying the revolutionary party.
During his tenure in office, Mugabe was the final voice when it came to conferring heroes’ status to those that would have departed, a trait that angered the opposition as only Zanu-PF members were conferred the heroes status which was also restricted to politicians.
Mugabe had told the opposition to look for its own mountain to bury its own heroes, claiming the National Heroes Acre was reserved for the “holy” ones, referring to Zanu-PF cadres.
Now bitter at his dethronement, Mugabe is said to have sent emissaries during negotiations following the army intervention saying he no longer wants to be buried at the National Heroes Acre.
But the same yardstick that he used to deny others the heroes’ conferment seems to being used against him with Zanu-PF Buhera South MP Joseph Chinotimba making it clear that Mugabe will not be buried at the National Heroes Acre because of his association with the opposition.
“Ndiri elder kuma war veterans, kana wapanduka, kana Mugabe apanduka na (Ambrose) Mutinhiri wake, pachikomo havachakwani. Vakawanda vaakati havaende paHeroes (Acre), iye ndiye aitaura izvozvo, kuti uyu haaendi pachikomo, nekuti apanduka, zvino (Ndabaningi) Sithole haana kuenda pachikomo nekuti akapanduka, asi akanga ari mukuru weZanu, tiri tese kuhondo, akapanduka, haana kuvigwa pachikomo, Mugabe apanduka haendi pachikomo (I am an elder within the war veterans, if one rebels, if Mugabe rebels together with Mutinhiri, he will not be buried at the National Heroes Acre. He refused many cadres the opportunity to be buried at the National Heroes Acre; he was the one that decided on who should be buried at the Heroes Acre. He refused Sithole an opportunity to be buried at the Heroes Acre, because he had rebelled. This was despite the fact that he was the founder of Zanu and we were together during the war. Mugabe has rebelled and cannot be buried at the National Heroes Acre),” Chinotimba said.
But it would be painful for Mugabe to miss a chance to be buried next to his first wife Sally, who was buried at the national shrine, owing to the acrimonious relationship between him and Zanu-PF.
The ruling party has also hinted that it is likely going to expel Mugabe from Zanu-PF because of his links with the opposition.
Zanu-PF secretary for Legal Affairs Paul Mangwana told the State media that Mugabe risks losing his membership and privileges as the former president.
“In the fullness of time, Zanu-PF will have to meet to discuss these new developments about the former head of State and government to review whether it is still necessary or not for him to continue enjoying the status we had given him.