THE death of former Gweru Urban legislator Rodrick Rutsvara has exposed deep-rooted political intolerance within the ruling Zanu PF party in the Midlands province after party members said the former MDC-T opposition legislator must not be mourned in Zanu PF social media WhatsApp groups.
Rutsvara, who was a prominent businessman in Gweru with interests in the hospitality, education and transport sectors, succumbed to kidney failure at a local hospital in the Midlands capital last week.
He has since been laid to rest.
Soon after his death, some Zanu PF activists poured condolence messages on their WhatsApp group, but the move sparked heated debate with some party hardliners saying the opposition politician should never be mourned on their social media platforms.
“It is with a heart that I announce the passing on of our former Gweru Urban MP Rutsvara,” one Zanu PF member posted.
But the message did not go down well with some hardliners who called for “order” from their colleague, questioning why she was posting the death message on a Zanu PF WhatsApp platform.
“Remember they call themselves CCC champions and yet we post their messages here. Let us be guided accordingly,” responded another Zanu PF member.
But the member who had initially posted the condolence message reminded others that despite political differences, people were still related and there was nothing amiss in posting a condolence message mourning an opposition activist.
“But you should mourn them (opposition figures) there and not here (on Zanu PF social media platforms),” another Zanu PF hardliner hit back.
The debate raged on as ruling party members remained divided. But at the end of the debate many felt that opposition figures should be grieved on their social media platforms and that it was against the spirit of “Africanism or Ubuntu” not to express grief over fellow citizens based on political differences.
Zimbabwe is so deeply polarised politically that opposition political parties have also been accused of posting nasty comments whenever Zanu PF members die.