Family disgruntled, as State denies Mutambanengwe hero status

The family of the late former High Court judge, Justice Simpson Mutambanengwe, is not happy that the government and Zanu PF declined to declare him a national hero, despite his contribution to the country before and after independence in 1980.

By XOLISANI NCUBE

The late former Supreme Court judge and Namibia's former Chief Justice Simpson Mtambanengwe

The late former Supreme Court judge and Namibia’s former Chief Justice Simpson Mtambanengwe

Mutambanengwe will be buried today at his rural home in Mutare after the government denied him hero’s status.

Mutambanengwe, who died last week in Namibia, where he was working as a judge of the Supreme Court and at times as acting Chief Justice, was one of the founding members of Zanu PF in 1964 and was a key pillar in the armed struggle, where he held various posts and carried out different assignments.

Speaking at a church service for the late top jurist yesterday, a family spokesperson and close friend of the late judge, Cornelius Sanyanga, said they were baffled why the late war veteran was denied hero’s status, but they had declared him as such, as his works were enough for the honour.

“It’s not about being declared what or what; he is a hero to us. His contribution to Zimbabwe speaks volumes of him. He is our hero,” Sanyanga said.

Speakers at the church service held in honour of the late judge, spoke glowingly about his contributions during and post the armed struggle. Former MDC-T top official, Sekai Holland said Mutambanengwe’s legacy would not be erased by failure to honour him today, as his deeds were indelible.

Top human rights lawyer, Beatrice Mtetwa also heaped praise on the late judge, saying despite his high position in the judiciary, he remained humble.

“He is one of judges we had confidence in. Whenever there were issues he knew would compromise his name, he would recuse himself. He never took a political stance,” she said.

The funeral service was attended by Judge President George Chiweshe and war veterans’ chairperson, Christopher Mutsvangwa together with his wife, Monica.

Mutambanengwe, a pioneering Zanu cadre following the split with Zapu in 1963, was the party’s first external affairs secretary.

He became a member of the Revolutionary Council, the predecessor to the Dare reChimurenga, a committee mandated with prosecuting the liberation struggle and chaired by the late Zanu founding national chairperson, Herbert Chitepo.

Mutambanengwe was appointed Zimbabwe Electoral Commission chairperson, but left office under a cloud amid reports that hawks in the ruling party were “uncomfortable” with his “open-mindedness” ahead of the 2013 general elections won controversially by Mugabe.