Opinion: Independent body must confer hero status. The Zanu-PF politburo is currently in charge of deciding who gets hero status on the basis of their role in the country’s liberation struggle as well as contribution to society at large. The selection criteria has often been contested since the era of late former President Robert Mugabe as it mostly benefitted Zanu-PF supporters.
Political analysts have called on Zanu-PF to step aside and allow an independent body to confer hero status to deserving individuals to avoid contestations around the selection criteria and monopolisation of the process by the ruling party.
Political analyst Okay Machisa said the selection should be done in a transparent manner by an independent body since public funds are used during the burial of the heroes. “There should be a consensus, with an independent institution or independent body set up to make the decisions so that we divorce from the political lens of doing the job,” Machisa said. “We need a very neutral and very apolitical body because if decisions are made by people in power, they would only consider persons using a political lens,” he said.
“During the late President Robert Mugabe’s era there were some people that were denied hero status, probably because the regime at that point didn’t like that person,” he said. The then Zanu-PF strongman even declared that the National Heroes Acre was “a Zanu-PF shrine”, challenging disgruntled parties to create their own shrines.
When he died in September 2019, he was, however, buried at his rural home in Zvimba after his family refused to have him interred at the national shrine although he had been declared a national hero. Another political analyst, Alexander Rusero said as long as Zanu-PF was in power, it would not let go the responsibility to decide who fits hero status.
Rusero, however, applauded President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s administration for allowing non-political actors such as musicians to receive the honour. These include music legend Oliver “Tuku” Mtukudzi, who was declared a national hero in 2019 and Zimdancehall chanter Soul Jah Love, real name Soul Musaka, who was accorded provincial hero status and buried in Harare at the weekend.
“For the first time we no longer have the war criteria as the monotheistic approach for one to qualify as national, provincial or liberation hero, but the contributions that one would have made at the national level are looked at,” Rusero said. Zanu-PF spokesperson Simon Khaya Moyo yesterday said he could not comment on the issue as he was in a meeting.
Source – Bulawayo24
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