FORMER PF-Zapu members in Zanu PF in the Matabeleland region are fuming after the government delayed conferring national hero status on Retired Lieutenant C
olonel Masala Sibanda, who was buried at Lady Stanley cemetery in Bulawayo on Saturday.
The late conferment of national hero status on Sibanda comes barely a week after another former PF-Zapu cadre and Bulawayo town clerk, Stanley Donga, was declared a liberation war hero almost a month after he was buried.
Donga was also buried at Lady Stanley cemetery.
Sibanda was a former Zipra High Command staff during the war of liberation.
He was arrested and detained by President Robert Mugabe’s government after independence on allegations of treason after arms caches were allegedly discovered at former Zapu farms.
He was arrested together with former Zipra commanders Lookout Masuku, Dumiso Dabengwa and Swazini Ndlovu.
Ndlovu and Masuku are also buried at Lady Stanley cemetery after the Zanu PF-led government did not accord them national hero status.
In the Sibanda case, Zanu PF’s secretary for administration, Didymus Mutasa, wrote to the party leadership on Monday this week declaring him a national hero.
This was despite the fact that Sibanda had been buried two days earlier.
Mutasa said the delay was
because the party was facing communication problems among senior leaders.
“It’s unfortunate that Sibanda has been buried but we are announcing that he is a national hero. We cannot say there was a delay, it’s just that there was a communication breakdown with the national chairman, John Nkomo. Phones, both landlines and mobile, were giving (us) problems,” Mutasa said.
But PF-Zapu cadres who spoke to the Zimbabwe Independent this week said the issue of delaying in conferring former PF-Zapu members with hero status was a deliberate ploy by the Zanu PF government to ensure that they are never buried at the National Heroes Acre.
“Zanu PF does not want deserving PF-Zapu cadres to be buried at the National Heroes Acre and the delays are only witnessed in Matabeleland while for former Zanla cadres there are no delays. All this indicates that Zanu PF does not take the Unity Accord seriously,” said one former senior PF-Zapu cadre.
Former PF Zapu secretary-general, Welshman Mabhena, who was unceremoniously dismissed from government, said the Unity Accord was a horse and rider relationship and Zanu PF was benefiting more from the pact than PF-Zapu.
“It is sad that deserving heroes like Lookout Masuku, Jean Ntutha and Swazini Ndlovu are buried at Lady Stanley cemetery when they are supposed to be at the National Heroes Acre,” Mabhena said.
Zimbabwe Liberators Peace Initiative president Max Mnkandla said latest developments indicate that the Unity Accord was not signed on an equal basis.