THERE was drama in Masvingo last week when Zanu PF heavyweights were locked in a bitter war of words while deliberating on the hero status of the late Higher Education minister Stan Mudenge.
Report by Brian Chitemba
Mudenge collapsed and died in his hotel room in Masvingo last week Thursday. Sources said the meeting held on his hero status was divided along factional lines with officials aligned to Mudenge, who was loyal to Defence minister Emmerson Mnangagwa’s faction, pushing the Zanu PF Masvingo provincial executive to automatically recommend that he be declared a national hero.
As a result officials aligned to Mnangagwa’s faction led by former governor Josaya Hungwe and Chivi North MP Titus Huruva, clashed with those linked to Vice-President Joice Mujuru, who included politburo member Dzikamai Mavhaire, Tourism minister Walter Mzembi and Masvingo governor Titus Maluleke.
The sources said Mavhaire declared that Mudenge did not deserve national hero status for unspecified reasons, but his group was blocked by Hungwe who said conferment should be automatic.
A furious Mavhaire then reportedly stormed out of the meeting.
Mavhaire is famous for his “Mugabe must go” call in parliament in 1997 which led to him being expelled from Zanu PF.
Contacted for comment on Wednesday, Zanu PF spokesperson Rugare Gumbo confirmed the Masvingo row but declined to divulge details.
“We may not know what happened behind the scenes but my intervention was to urge them to work in harmony and reach an understanding,” said Gumbo. “I told them to write to the secretary of administration (Didymus Mutasa) and request (that) Mudenge be declared a national hero.”
Mudenge was no longer that active in Masvingo politics due to ill-health. He joins the list of Zanu PF gurus who died in office despite years of visible illness.
These include vice-presidents Joshua Nkomo, Simon Muzenda and Joseph Msika, as well as then Harare governor David Karimanzira, among others.