Mnangagwa Angers ZAPU Cadres, Overrules Decision Not To Grant Ncube National Hero Status
Former Bulawayo provincial minister Angeline Masuku declared that she too must not be buried at the National Heroes Acre in Harare after the Zanu-PF politburo initially turned down a request to have Misheck Velaphi Ncube declared a national hero, ZimLive reported.
The politburo had initially declared Ncube a liberation war hero to be accorded a state-assisted funeral, and the party’s secretary for administration Obert Mpofu had been sent to convey the message.
But an emergency meeting at the party’s provincial HQ at Davies Hall in Bulawayo on Friday ended with a delegation being sent to Harare to make the case to President Emmerson Mnangagwa, two officials briefed on the meeting confirmed.
Ncube, who died on April 29 from diabetes at the age of 82 and was one of the pioneer ZIPRA fighters during the 1970s independence war after receiving military training in Egypt in 1962, was declared a national hero on Saturday after Mnangagwa overruled the politburo, the officials said.
“Masuku was quite forceful at the meeting, saying that if Ncube was not declared a national hero then she too and everyone else in the room did not deserve the honour. She said Callistus Ncube, who was buried at the National Heroes Acre also did not deserve to be there ahead of Ncube,” one Zanu-PF official said.
“She was supported by central committee member Joseph Tshuma and others who said the denial of national hero status to Ncube reflected a skewed understanding of the liberation history, with only former ZANLA combatants considered fit for the honour.”
Zanu-PF politburo member, Munyaradzi Machacha, who was appointed by Mnangagwa to oversee the restructuring of the party in Bulawayo, was so alarmed by the strong objections among ex-ZAPU officials that he called Mnangagwa during the meeting to tell him that “people are angry down here.”
Mnangagwa said he would meet a two-member delegation that travelled to Harare to see him. He told the officials that he knew Ncube, and had sent him a personal message through Bulawayo’s provincial minister Judith Ncube during the Zimbabwe International Trade Fair at the end of last month after learning that he was hospitalised.
Mnangagwa subsequently overruled the politburo and directed officials to declare Ncube a national hero.
Speaking at the Ncube home in New Lobengula in Bulawayo on Saturday, Zanu-PF politburo member Absalom Sikhosana said: “He was involved at all levels of the liberation struggle. He was involved at all levels of the political leadership. There is no reason whatsoever for denying him that right (national hero declaration). That’s the appropriate consideration befitting a man of his calibre.”
Ncube was the ZAPU administrator soon after independence in 1980 and was among top leaders arrested after the government allegedly discovered arms caches at a farm owned by the party.
The arrests, which also saw the detention of late ZIPRA commander Lookout Masuku and current ZAPU leader Dumiso Dabengwa being charged with treason, marked the beginning of the Gukurahundi massacres.
At the time of his death, Ncube was a member of the Zanu-PF national consultative assembly.
Burial arrangements were yet to be announced on Sunday.
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