ED seeks to rewrite history and its heroes

Review & Mail Writers

The conferment of national hero status in Zimbabwe has been always contested, with lack of consensus on who qualifies for the honours and who is not.

 The national shrine in the capital Harare, a small hill near the Warren Park suburb along the Harare-Bulawayo road, is home to some of the most decorated figures.

Like former Vice President Joshua Nkomo and decorated army general, Solomon Mujuru.

Some less honourable figures lie there, also. These include sisters of the late President, Robert Mugabe who were controversially accorded national heroine status.

Mugabe himself refused to be buried there when he died in 2018, again to much controversy, not least that he had presided over scores of burials of heroes and cronies.

Now, Mugabe’s successor, President Mnangagwa, is trying to right some of the wrongs of the veteran leader who presided over the country, and recognition of heroes – or lack thereof in sime cases.

On Monday, during Heroes Day commemorations, President Mnangagwa said he would recognise heroes that had been forgotten or shunted aside.

This, according to him, would amount to “giving a holistic account of our country’s long war of liberation”.

Commentators widely accept that Zanu-PF’s hegemony has led to some erasures of history, with some participants to the liberation struggle being denied recognition following some fallouts.

This happened to a number of luminaries – and Mnangagwa pledged to rewire the history, somewhat.

“We are therefore rising to the occasion and recognising other heroes and heroines such as the late Reverend Ndabaningi Sithole and the late Cde James Chikerema for their historical contributions, despite their areas of weaknesses, with regards to the observance of the correct line of the Revolution.

“For that reason, we now honour them among the list of our national heroes and heroines.

“We forever remain indebted to all the heroes and heroines of our great country for the freedom, democracy and independence we enjoy to this day. Their sacrifices will never die.”

The honours will extend to other facets of national life.

Explained the President: “The nation may recall that, in 2021, my Government established the following honours; the Robert Gabriel Mugabe Commendation Award; the Joshua Mqabuko Nyongolo Nkomo Commendation Award; and the Herbert Wiltshire Pfumaindini Chitepo Commendation Award in recognition of the sacrifices and outstanding feats achieved by the country’s founding fathers.

“We shall, thus, recognise and honour heroism beyond the war of liberation and defence sector. Milestones in science, technology and innovation; the accelerated development and growth of our economy as well as the growth of ‘Made in Zimbabwe’ goods and services are applauded and celebrated. So too are initiatives around cultural preservation and other heroic efforts by our people, both at home and abroad, that raise the Zimbabwe National Flag high.”

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