Thousands attend Msika's burial

HARARE – Thousands of Zimbabweans on Monday gathered to witness the burial of the country’s first vice-president, Joseph Msika, and to commemorate Heroes Day.\r\n

Msika was buried at Harare’s National Heroes Acre.

South African Vice-President Kgalema Motlanthe was among the regional representatives, diplomats and others at the Heroes Acre. He laid a wreath on the open grave.

President Robert Mugabe gave a grave-side speech in which he eulogised about his late comrade, the liberation struggle and related issues.

He called the late Msika a man of peace and whilst he praised SADC and South Africa for helping set up the coalition government, he blasted the west.

Mugabe said western governments still do not want to help Zimbabwe and he played down humanitarian donations to the country.

Msika was 85 when he died last Wednesday, apparently of hypertension.

Mugabe accused Britain of wanting to dictate terms to Zimbabwe’s power-sharing government and said Harare may have to reconsider relations with London and its Western allies.

Mugabe called on the new unity government to stand up to the West, appearing to reject efforts by Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai who has been pushing to restore relations with Western nations that are capable of providing badly needed financial aid to Harare.

“Let everyone in the inclusive government know that our nation will never prosper through foreign handouts, no nation ever did with merely a dime here for drugs, a dime for food, a farthing here for disease and another farthing for your budget. Nations are built on their own endowments.

“We must assert ourselves as the inclusive government, we must say no you (Britain) cannot come to us as principals to tell us what to do. We say no to British rule, no to colonialism.”

Tsvangirai and Arthur Mutambara also attended Msika’s burial.

Analysts say the coalition government offers Zimbabwe the best opportunity in a decade to restore stability and end a devastating economic and humanitarian crisis that had seen the once prosperous country suffer rampant inflation, acute food shortages, record unemployment and deepening poverty.

They say the administration, which says it needs at least US$8 billion to revive the economy, could fail to deliver unless it is able to unlock vital financial support from Western donor governments that remain reluctant to provide aid until they see evidence of real reform in Mugabe.