FISSURES have reportedly emerged in the Zanu PF hierarchy over the impromptu declaration of the late politburo member Absolom Sikhosana as a national hero.
A group of senior party bigwigs and war veterans in Bulawayo are reportedly bitter over the special treatment Sikhosana got, while the late Brigadier-General Crispen Masuku was only accorded national hero status after his burial at Lady Stanley Cemetery in Bulawayo on Friday.
The situation has exposed divisions between the Zapu-Zipra element in Zanu PF.
Reports are that when Masuku died, the party asked the province to write a letter requesting for him to be accorded national hero status.
However, in Sikhosana’s case, the politburo’s declaration was made without making a similar request despite him being junior to Masuku.
“It appears the issue emanated from that Sikhosana was acting chairperson for Bulawayo province and there are people from a faction which was suspended which is bitter about his conferment of the national hero status. You remember President (Emmerson) Mnangagwa dissolved the whole provincial structures and replaced them with the one led by Sikhosana,” a source close to the matter said.
The source said it was this faction and the Zipra command which raised the query.
“When Brig Gen Masuku died on Wednesday, the party was informed and asked the province to write a letter requesting that he be declared a national hero … They are now questioning why Sikhosana was given a special treatment on the national hero status ahead of Brig Gen Masuku who was senior to him,” the source added.
The source said party politics were at play even during Sikhosana’s illness and death and accused Bulawayo Metropolitan Provincial Affairs minister Judith Ncube of ignoring his plea for help.
“Sikhosana drove himself to United Bulawayo Hospitals (UBH) and phoned Ncube that he was unable to get out of the car. She didn’t bother to come and see him, but sent someone to help him.”
Contacted for comment, Ncube said she was not aware about fissures in the Zanu PF hierarchy.
“I have not heard about that (fissures) my dear, I am ignorant as we are speaking. Sikhosana was driven to UBH by his driver, he did not drive himself. I remember him calling me notifying that he had challenges coming out of the car as he was not feeling well,” Ncube said.
“I phoned Dr Narcisius Dzvanga to assist him since he had arrived in the hospital and was not feeling well. Dzvanga called me back to give me feedback that he had assisted him.”
Zanu PF secretary for administration, Obert Mpofu said in Masuku’s case, the Defence ministry sent the letter to Zanu PF hierarchy.
“The process of declaring Masuku was delayed as he was a member of the Ministry of Defence and certain procedures had to be followed. I received the letter which was written for Masuku to be declared, it was accepted and he was declared,” Mpofu said.
“Sikhosana was declared instantly soon after his death was heard because we knew him and he was part of the Zanu PF hierarchy.”
Vice-President Kembo Mohadi told mourners at Sikhosana’s home while paying his condolences on Sunday that Sikhosana deserved hero status.
“He earned it. It was not just conferred on him, he earned it. That is what he is, that is what he was. So, it doesn’t come as a surprise to anyone that we might have done it without following the laid-down procedures of trying to wait for letters to come from the provinces,” he said.
Sikhosana died on Friday at UBH.
He will be buried at the national shrine tomorrow.