DIVISIONS have emerged within the MDC on how to react to former State President and Zanu PF strongman Robert Mugabe’s death in Singapore on Friday.
While the party’s leadership including president Nelson Chamisa have suggested it would be uncultured to pour scorn on the late leader, the youth assembly is calling for war and is planning a protest at Mugabe’s funeral.
Chamisa’s deputy, Tendai Biti has also indicated that Mugabe was better than his successor, Emmerson Mnangagwa.
This and Chamisa’s statements have torched a storm within the main opposition with the youths, supported by “Generational Consensus” – a revolutionary group that catapulted Chamisa to president following the death of founding party leader Morgan Tsvangirai last year – reportedly angry.
“We are not happy at all. This is a man who killed our members for fun during his days in power. We cannot pretend that he is a saint today. Wait for his Rufaro Stadium funeral wake.
“That African culture dictates that we sanctify the departed is not applicable here. Chamisa, Biti and all other party leaders should just have kept their mouths shut,” said one of the youths who declined to be named.
The youths, who are demanding a clear attack on Mugabe in death, said there seemed to be a clear attempt at enhancing the former President’s image ignoring his tattered human rights record.
Generational Consensus Coordinator and human rights defender Pride Mkono said the soft stance by the party’s leadership was shocking and a sign of confusion within the party.
“Those that are celebrating Mugabe’s violent legacy are either nonsensical, naive or both,” said Mkono.
“It is especially shocking coming from purported leaders of the opposition.”
Chamisa told international broadcaster Al Jazeera that he was happy Mugabe had died a repentant figure ready to see change.
“We acknowledge the contribution made to the country in the liberation of our country and also his contributions in the early days when he contributed to education and health.
“But we also acknowledge the reality that there were also negatives in terms of the pains that the people had to go through on account of the omissions and commissions in government,” Chamisa said.
“What is gratifying to us is that at the end of his reign he voted for change, he voted for myself, in fact Mr Mugabe is one of the few people who did not hide their vote.”
His deputy Tendai Biti said that he is indebted to Mugabe for getting him through school.
“His legacy shouldn’t be detracted by the fact that there were atrocities, commissions and omissions committed.
“Today, we must mourn Robert Mugabe and pass condolences to his wife and children, and thank him for leading the battle against colonialism and for the emancipation of Zimbabwe leading to its independence in 1980,” said Biti.
“I was tortured by Robert Mugabe in 2008. Many Zimbabweans were killed during Gukurahundi. But I don’t feel bitterness, I feel indebtedness, I feel gratitude to the work he did in liberating our country.”
In the first seven years of independence, Mugabe used a crack North Korean trained military unit known as the 5th Brigade in mass killings commonly referred to as Gukurahundi in which some 20 000 died in Matebeleland and Midlands provinces.
He has been accused of abducting and killing hundreds of critics either through road accidents, poison and at times burning them in huts as he sought to retain power by hook or crook.