The decision comes amid reports that Zimbabwe’s hero’s status row has been brought to the attention of the Zimbabwe mediator, South Africa’s President Jacob Zuma.
Minutes of a meeting held on June 02 by negotiators from the three parties in the coalition government revealed that the negotiators had reached a deadlock on the issue. The issue is under Article VIII of the Global Political Agreement (GPA) which addresses the “respect of national institutions and events”.
“The parties restated the continued absence of consensus on which organ should determine national hero status on deceased persons,” read part of the minutes of the meeting, which were a confirmation of a May 5, 2011 inter-party talks in Cape Town, South Africa.
“The parties referred the matter to the facilitator to engage the principals with a view to finding an appropriate solution to the dispute.”
The report, a copy of which is in possession of this reporter, was compiled and signed by all the six negotiators from Zanu (PF) and the two Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) factions.
Coalition partners in government have accused Zanu (PF) of monopolising the process of declaring national hero status on outstanding citizens and are calling for an all inclusive process that is not dominated by politicians. The MDC wants the highest honour bestowed on outstanding citizens to be extended to other facets such as sports, arts and business.
President Robert Mugabe and his party’s Politburo continue to use the process to spite perceived enemies of the party especially those who withdrew their loyalty to the ageing leader citing different reasons. Mugabe is adamant the national shrine is for those who fought in the country’s liberation struggle and has derisively told those who believe they deserve a place there to “look for their own mountain”.
However, the party’s Secretary for Administration, Didymus Mutasa on Thursday announced that Tekere had been declared a national hero and that burial arrangements will be known later.
Tekere’s family had already made arrangements for his burial in keeping with his wish not be buried “among thieves and killers”. The family had planned to hold a send-off church service at his Mutare home on Friday morning and later bury him at the Yeoville Cemetery in his home town in Mutare before they were asked by Zanu (PF) to put their plans on hold.
Ibbo Mandaza, the Tekere family spokesperson confirmed Zanu (PF) had promised to give them a decision on Thursday.
Despite the maverick politician’s estranged relationship with Zanu (PF) Tekere was much loved by multitudes of Zimbabweans especially for his stand on corruption, opposition to one party state and his opposition to Mugabe’s excesses.