HARARE – President Robert Mugabe yesterday renewed his rivalry with former Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai by declaring he would never be buried at the National Heroes’ Acre, because he was a “sell-out”.
Mugabe shared power with Tsvangirai for four years in a shaky coalition government which ended on July 31 when Zimbabwe held polls won by the Zanu PF leader amid claims of vote-rigging.
But at the burial of the late diplomat, brigadier general Misheck Tanyanyiwa, Mugabe took a dig at his former partner ridiculing him saying “there would be no need for the politburo to meet to determine his status”.
“Vakanaka vatinoisa pano, havangabvi muzvitototo (those whom we bury here are great people”, Mugabe told mourners. “You will never be buried here; it is for our righteous ones, those dedicated to the liberation struggle.”
Tsvangirai has refused to accept Mugabe’s disputed victory and maintains the octogenarian leader tampered with the vote.
Mugabe has not met Tsvangirai since the end of the coalition government and appears to have closed the door on the MDC leader for talks aimed at discussing his “exit” package, including possible purchase of a mansion which the ex-Premier occupies.
The Zanu PF leader said Tsvangirai and his cadres did not qualify for the befitting honour of being buried at the nation shrine which is reserved for illustrious sons and daughters who would have made a significant contribution to the country.
Tsvangirai and pro-democracy groups accuse Mugabe and his Zanu PF colleagues of unilaterally deciding who should be buried at the national shrine.
Mugabe insists there will be no opportunity to honour those outside his cabal, since his Zanu PF party cadres fought for the liberation of the country from colonialists.
The MDC is among those arguing that there should be a complete paradigm shift in the way national hero’s status was being conferred exclusively by Zanu PF.
National hero’s status is usually conferred on liberation war veterans and comes with benefits such as a state funeral, burial at the national shrine and assistance to the surviving family members.
However, the Zanu PF’s politburo, the party’s highest decision making body, has since independence from Britain in 1980, monopolised the determination of who qualifies for the ‘revered’ status.
Zanu PF has since denied hero’s status to genuine liberation war veterans such as James Chikerema, Lookout Masuku and Ndabaningi Sithole, whom many felt deserved the honour.
Mugabe said Tanyanyiwa represents the “rare” breed of patriots that unreservedly qualify to be accorded the honour of burial at the national shrine.
The Zanu PF leader said the July 31 harmonised elections that his party won with an overwhelming two thirds majority had shown that the white community in the country did not have a stake in Zimbabwe.
“What the July 31 election result means is that Zimbabwe and all that is beneath it belong to the African Zimbabweans, and that we have to take control of everything.
“We do not care whether you have money or not we will not sacrifice principle on the altar of expediency, never, ever,” bellowed the combative Mugabe, adding that despite Ian Smith’s vows that no black man will rule Zimbabwe in his lifetime – he lived to see a black government.
He however, said Zanu PF cannot afford to sit back and relax, especially after winning the July 31 election.
Mugabe said the party’s pledges to the electorate have to be fulfilled.
So far, Mugabe’s government has failed to live up to the pre-election promises.
The economy has shown serious signs of receding while foreign investors remain sceptical of committing their funds in the early months of the Zanu PF government.
Share prices on the stock exchanged have nosedived while an estimated 800 companies have partially or completely closed due to the worsening economic situation.
Finance Minister Patrick Chinamasa is yet to announce the budget in the face of dwindling revenue and falling exports receipts.