Violence worries mar Msipa burial

HARARE - Friends and relatives of late nationalist Cephas Msipa, who are opposed to President Robert Mugabe and Zanu PF, say they fear attending the much-loved former Midlands governor’s burial at Heroes Acre in Harare today in the light of the escalating violence being perpetrated by ruling party thugs.

Former Zanu PF spokesperson and now Zimbabwe People First (ZPF) elder, Rugare Gumbo — a long-standing friend and relative of Msipa — was among the many opposition bigwigs who told the Daily News yesterday that the burial presented many potential pitfalls to those operating outside Zanu PF.

“I will probably go to Heroes Acre, but I know for sure that many people are afraid and therefore may not come. I do not understand the culture that has now set roots among us Zimbabweans.

“There is too much fear among the people . . . fear even to attend a funeral because of threats from those in Zanu PF.  I know a lot of people in the opposition who would like to go but are afraid,” he said.

“It is very saddening to realise that this man (Msipa) that they have now monopolised in death was not at all happy with the way they (Zanu PF) are mismanaging the country.

“He was a man of peace who wanted to see Zimbabweans united and now people are afraid to even attend his funeral. Is that right?” a visibly low-spirited Gumbo asked.

The fear by some top opposition figures to attend the much-respected Msipa’s burial comes as ZPF is stepping up the security around its leader, former Vice President Joice Mujuru, after the party was unnerved by recent violence against its members.

Well-placed ZPF sources who spoke to the Daily News earlier this week said so concerned were Mujuru and her senior party officials, that her personal security arrangements were being revised and augmented as campaigns for the eagerly-anticipated 2018 national elections got into top gear.

This followed last month’s gruesome attacks on four senior ZPF members, including former diplomat and retired brigadier Aggripa Mutambara, who were left for dead in Guruve during a blood-curdling attack by seemingly deranged Zanu PF supporters.

And last Saturday, Zanu PF thugs ran amok in the usually sleepy town of Norton, beating up supporters of the independent candidate in today’s by-election, Temba Mliswa, in barbaric scenes which left many people injured and needing hospitalisation.

The chaotic scenes forced Mliswa to cancel his scheduled rally at Ngoni Stadium where thousands of his supporters had gathered ahead of the by-election in the constituency — including MDC, ZPF and People’s Democratic Party (PDP) members.

Yesterday, former Presidential Affairs minister Didymus Mutasa was among those who were doubtful that they would attend Msipa’s burial, now that it had been switched from Gweru to the national shrine.

“I will have to consult widely whether I should go or not but it is unlikely that I will go. They should have respected his death wish and buried him in Gweru. There (in Gweru) we would have been freer and less anxious about being abused,” he said.

While Msipa’s grieving family readily welcomed Mugabe’s conferment of national hero status on the much-loved Zanu PF elder on Monday, they also “politely” asked for his wishes, to be buried next to his wife Charlotte — who died a few years ago and is interred in Gweru — to be respected.

But the ministry of Home Affairs, which superintends over the burial of national heroes and heroines, moved to hold an emergency meeting with the family, successfully pushing for the late nationalist to be buried at the National Heroes Acre in Harare.

The unassuming former PF Zapu cadre’s death brought to an end a long and illustrious political career in which he was famed for voluntarily retiring from active politics and always speaking truth to power.

Speaking in an exclusive interview with the Daily News earlier this year, Msipa said Mugabe’s 56 years in politics were long enough for a “normal human being to hang the boots”.

“My serious advice to him (Mugabe) is that he should rest now, as he has done so much for the country,” the once close friend of Mugabe of many decades said, adding that the nonagenarian — who is the only post-independence leader that Zimbabweans have had — cannot rest after death.

“In a way, he has done a lot for this country, and really in all fairness we are punishing him. When will he rest, when he is dead?” he asked rhetorically.

“I feel sorry for him as a friend. I think he must just be given time to rest. We live in this world for a much shorter period than we realise. He really needs a rest. A race is run up to a certain point and there comes a point when you must rest.

“It’s good for him, good for his family and good for the party. We need new ideas. These can only come with leadership renewal. I would like him to rest,” the concerned Msipa emphasised repeatedly.

He also challenged some Zanu PF hardliners who were advocating for the nonagenarian’s further stay in power to be “human and stop punishing” him.

“We should all feel sorry for him. We are punishing him. Those who are saying he should continue, we don’t seem to care about him. I know some people want him to stay for their own protection.

“I also know some of them feel he is protecting them. He gave them certain positions and so they are afraid that if he goes they will lose those positions. It’s unfair for us to punish a man for all this time. Let him sit back and watch. It’s very important after all that hard work,” Msipa said.

“If it was to become possible for me to meet him I would convince him to rest. I am talking about retiring. I am saying he has worked so hard, so much that he needs to rest now.

“There will be no other time except now. He can’t rest after death, of course. They call that rest in peace, but I don’t know what that means,” he added.

Comments (3)

vanhu vakanaka hava rarame

rufu - 22 October 2016

Rugare Gumbo, The fear and intimidation has been there for decades, you were part of it and it is only now that you have moved to the other side that it is coming down on you. Now you know what it has been like for the rest of us.

Kakuli - 23 October 2016

Mr Gumbo, a lot of us outside of Zanu PF have looked down upon the members of that party as they go about their uncivilised behaviour as if they were not born but "rained from hell" from as early as 1985 in areas like Highfield where they burnt homes and ransacked properties of those who had different political views. Then their so-called leader stepped in and spoke about having "degrees in violence" on public media. If that is not shameful, tell me what is. Perhaps Mr Msipa will now understand what RIP stands for. It is not peace that he left behind!!

Sagitarr - 23 October 2016

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