Msika, was only a Vice-President of a muderous Junta

OPINION – Yet another National Hero is going to be declared by the Zanu (PF) politburo following the death of Vice-President Joseph Msika, yet the National Hero institution is a state institution which should be celebrated by all Zimbabweans.

The burial of a national hero is a state occasion, funded by the government of national unity, and therefore paid for by tax-payers, but Zanu (PF) continues to ignore its partner in government, the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) which has said it must also be involved in the decision to confer Heroes Status and in the planning of the day’s programme.

The death of Msika, an nationalist activist from childhood, coincides with the commemoration of Heroes’ Day next week, which brings back to the fore the debate which has now become perennial, on the conferment of hero status in Zimbabwe.

A spokesman for the MDC said the party believes that conferment of hero status in the country cannot be an exclusive prerogative of either the Zanu PF Politburo or the MDC National Council, if the MDC was in power.

“There must be an inclusive national policy and an independent body which sets parameters and clearly defined yardsticks which determine who qualifies to be a national hero or heroine.

“The same panel must define the meaning of a hero,” said the MDC, highlighting the need to continuously review the meaning of a Hero to keep it relevant to the period.

Some people have, for instance, questioned to what extent Msika can be considered a hero when he was vice-president of a murderous and corrupt regime, despite that he played a part in the national liberation from colonialism.

An independent panel of people’s representatives, not necessarily from political parties, but from all walks of life, would certainly be well-placed to put him in his correct context, not  just as viewed by his buddies in the politburo only, but by the whole country, including those who were not born when the liberation war was fought.

The MDC statements also highlights the contradictions in the government of national unity where Zanu (PF) continues to act as if it is the senior partner in the government. It calls into question to what extent the government is indeed a government of national unity, and how sincere Zanu (PF) is as a partner in the government.

Occasions such as Heroes’s Day – which are supposed to unite all Zimbabweans in celebrating achievements of our national heroes – are turned into partisan occasions by a partisan organisation or political party charged with conferring Heroes’ status which naturally discriminates against deserving individuals if they are from other parties.

Besides, not only politicians have lifted the Zimbabwean flag high, but there are many sons and daughters who have served and continue to serve Zimbabwe with pride and distinction. These people are found in all walks of life; the unsung heroes of our country who also deserve a place of honour in the national hall of fame, regardless of the fact that they are not politicians.

The Zanu PF Politburo cannot be an objective substitute of an independent panel, said the MDC, which called for a panel of respected and eminent persons to come up with set criteria for the conferment of hero status.

The MDC has also said that one does not need to be dead to be appreciated in the country of their birth. “Acknowledging talent and celebrating it is the hallmark of progressive and civilised societies.

“As we approach Heroes’ Day, we are calling on all Zimbabweans to reflect on the Zimbabwe we want, the process of defining heroes and the definition of that hero.

“We must sculpture as a nation the legitimate and credible formula of conferring hero status,” said the MDC spokesman.

Vice-President Arthur Mutambara was quoted back in July saying that a select committee from all the parties would decide on who is buried at the national shrine “to remove partisanship.”

But nothing has been heard of this initiative and neither has any motion been presented in Parliament to make this law.

Patrick Kombayi who used his personal wealth to support the national liberation movement, was shot and almost killed while engaged in the democratic struggle against Zanu (PF) dictatorship in the Zimbabwe Unity Movement, and died while still fighting for democracy through the MDC is considered by many a national hero, but he case was not even considered.

The Herald meanwhile has been drumming up the build up to Heroes’s Day, but as an opportunity tout Robert Mugabe’s Zanu (PF) party as the party of the liberation from colonialism – a fact which is not denied but which cannot continue to be held up as the only standard of national heroism when in fact the nation is now embarked on a new struggle for democracy and economic development.

In fact Mugabe is set to use the occasion to denounce, as he always does, neo-colonialism, presenting himself and his party as the representatives of democracy, despite the trail of blood they have left, fighting against modern day democrats. www.changezimbabe.com