HARARE - Former Presidential Affairs minister Didymus Mutasa says the way President Robert Mugabe had failed to recognise the late Amos Midzi as a national hero showed that the ruling party had now morphed into an “undemocratic animal” that was controlled by one man — the long-ruling nonagenarian.
A former minister and diplomat, Midzi, died on Tuesday last week in a suspected suicide and was buried at the Glen Forest Cemetery in Harare, with Mugabe and the ruling party flatly refusing to accord him hero status, not even at district level — because he was linked to former Vice President Joice Mujuru.
Sources who spoke to the Daily News at the weekend revealed that Midzi had died “a very bitter man” and had been unable to take his “ruthless rejection by a party he worked so hard for” on untested charges of being part of a so-called “putschist cabal” linked to Mujuru that was allegedly plotting to oust and kill Mugabe.
So controversial were the circumstances that led to Midzi’s death that many in the warring ruling party have raised serious questions about how exactly he met his fate, in addition to re-igniting raging national debate about who qualifies to be a national hero in the country.
Mutasa, a former politburo member who faces the same inglorious fate that Midzi had to endure until his death despite his long service to the divided ruling party, told the Daily News yesterday that it was clear that Mugabe and the post-congress Zanu PF were determined to deny many deserving Zimbabweans the status of national heroes — just because these people had dared to challenge the party or were wrongly suspected of plotting against Mugabe.
“It now appears as if anyone who is not in good books with the post-congress Zanu PF will not be recognised. Even people like me who have worked for Zanu since its inception are going to be ignored. Zanu PF ought not to be selfish as they are doing now and should recognise anyone deserving to be a hero,” Mutasa said.
By making this call, Mutasa joins opposition parties, including the Morgan Tsvangirai-led MDC, who have long lost faith in the partisan way used to select national heroes — who now derisively call the National Heroes Acre “Gushungo Heroes Acre”.
On his part, Mugabe has urged those who question the ruling party’s partisan role in determining who becomes a national hero to find “their own mountain” and bury their dead there.
Asked whether Zanu PF’s criteria when bestowing hero status was holistic given his inside knowledge Mutasa, a former influential politburo member and close confidante to Mugabe, said “things (the selection) should be simple and straightforward”.
“Our sympathy goes to the Midzi family and we sympathise with his daughter and we support her and what she said about her father being a hero,” he said.
Probed further by the Daily News if Midzi, who was once linked to the Zanu PF vigilante militia group called Chipangano that terrorised opposition party supporters in the Harare high density suburb of Mbare ahead of the 2013 polls, qualified to be a hero, Mutasa said he had “the attributes that eclipsed” those of some who were buried at the Heroes Acre.
“There should have been some recognition of what he did for Zanu. At least he should have been given a provincial hero status because he was the Harare chairperson and thus automatically had the credentials to be a provincial hero.
“The work which he did for Harare province should have been recognised by Zanu PF. What is beyond doubt is that Midzi was indeed a national hero. The fact that he was suspended is neither here nor there. He did a lot for the party,” Mutasa said.
Midzi’s death came at a time that Zanu PF is being disembowelled by deadly factional and succession wars. It further exposed the deep fissures in the ruling party as his funeral was characterised by clashes between the two distinct and bitterly-opposed Zanu PF formations that now obtain since late last year — with most liberation struggle stalwarts now operating as the “original” Zanu PF.
Mutasa said the seemingly unstoppable fights in Zanu PF explained in part why Midzi was totally ignored by the warring ruling party as a hero.
“The people of Harare province were very happy with what Midzi did for the party.
“They should have worked hard to ensure that he was declared a hero, but the supposed chairperson (now expelled Godwills Masimirembwa) could not do anything because he appears to be in trouble himself,” he said.
Quizzed on whether only people with connections to Zanu PF were supposed to be declared heroes, Mutasa said “even vendors who are soldiering on” deserve to be recognised as heroes.
“All sorts of people need to be recognised if they did something outstanding for the country. Unfortunately, this has been personalised and Midzi’s death shows how democracy has died in Zanu PF,” Mutasa said.