Chikerema No Hero - Mugabe

March 30 - Even in death President Robert Mugabe does not forgive or forget.

This aptly sums up his indignation and intolerance towards his relative and former freedom fighter, James Dambaza Chikerema, who died in the United States last week.

Veteran Nationalist James Chikerema. Photo by Trevor Grundy

Photo: Veteran Nationalist James Chikerema.
Photo by Trevor Grundy

The 82-year-old liberator-turned-dictator on Wednesday refused to confer the late Chikerema with national hero status, despite Chikerema‘s well-acknowledged role in the formative years of the liberation movement.

Ironically Mugabe conferred the honour on his former bodyguard - a man he fired and was forced to re-instate after he allegedly made advances at the First Lady.

The Zanu PF highest decision making organ, the Politburo met in Harare Wednesday and "unanimously" declared Winston Changara, 52, a national hero.

Changara died in Harare on Monday after serving Mugabe for 24 years as the leading bodyguard and he will be buried at the national, Heroes Acre on Friday.

On the same day the body of Chikerema will be arriving in the country, to the private grief of his family members and friends. Mugabe reportedly gave in reluctantly to lobbying by the Mashonaland Central Province of his party.

But on Chikerema, his decision was cut and dried! Zanu PF spokesman Nathan Shamuyarira said on national television that the party had respected Chikerema's wish of not wanting to be declared a national hero upon his death.

"We have respected his wish. He did not want to be buried at the Heroes Acre. The party will do everything and assist in anyway at the funeral," Shamuyarira said.

However, this smacks of hypocrisy as Zanu PF could have, as it has done on many occasions, simply declared Chikerema a national hero and bury him in Zvimba.

Chikerema was an arch critic of Mugabe whom he lambasted publicly for ruining the once sound Zimbabwean economy and revealed that as a boy Mugabe was just as obstinate as he is now - if he picked an argument with other boys herding cattle, he would separate his cattle from the rest and find his own pasture - something unheard of as herd-boys always found ways of resolving differences, by even fighting, but always came home together.

If not here then where?
If not us then who?
If not now then when?