Addressing a press conference in Harare, Deputy Prime Minister Arthur Mutambara said his party tried in vain to convince Mugabe and his party to soften up and declare Sibanda a national hero.
“We have since received communication from Dr Isiah Sibanda who is the chief secretary in Cabinet and also from Minister Didymus Mutasa who is the Minister in the President’s Office saying that the Zanu (PF) politburo has decided that Gibson Sibanda is not worthy of being declared a national hero, instead they have taken a position where he has been accorded a state assisted funeral status,” Mutambara said.
“We do not recognise the Zanu (PF) politburo as an authority in determining who becomes a national hero, so we reject… the decision by the Zanu (PF) politiburo that Gibson Sibanda is not a national hero.
“Robert Mugabe and his party have no authority and locus standi in this country to determine who is a hero and who is not a hero. So we reject the message from Mutasa , we reject the message from Mutasa,” Mutambara said.
Mutambara said he and Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai wrote two letters respectively to Mugabe to convince him that Sibanda deserved to be laid to rest at the national heroes acre.
“In so far as we are concerned as a political party, Gibson Sibanda is a national hero, if there is any definition of a hero either by way of what you get from literature or what you get from political interpretation this is an epitome of heroism that we are celebrating today,” Mutambara told journalists.
“As a political party our position is that Gibson Sibanda deserves to be accorded national heroes status. Consequently as a party we wrote to President Mugabe as head of state to expeditiously move towards declaring Gibson Sibanda as a national hero, we did that as a party.”
Burial arrangements for Sibanda, who died aged 66 on Monday have not yet been finalised. The founding Vice President of the united Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) and former welfare secretary of ZAPU was also the Minister of State responsible for national healing and reconcilliation.
Mugabe and Zanu (PF)’s politburo have clashed with other political parties over the selection of who should be laid at the national shrine.The issue is one of the outstanding issues of the Global Political Agreement (GPA). A board consisting of political parties, government and civil society is to be set to decide who is a national hero.