President Robert Mugabe (pictured) worsened matters when he declared that the Heroes Acre was for Zanu PF people who fought the liberation war.
Matters got to a head when the Zanu PF declined to declare MDC-M vice president, Gibson Sibanda a hero, despite calls from Mugabe’s coalition partners that the former trade union leader be conferred with the status.
Later in the year, Welshman Mabhena a former Zapu stalwart was declared a national hero and was to be buried at the Heroes’ Acre, but his family would have none of it.
Nyashanu’s conferment will certainly spark calls for the overhaul of the declaration of hero’s status, with Zanu PF’s coalition partners in the inclusive government also demanding a say on who is interred at the national shrine.
MDC-T spokesman, Nelson Chamisa, said while they shared grief with the Nyashanu family, they would not attend the burial ceremony as Zanu PF had made it clear that the Heroes’ Acre was theirs exclusively.
“Zanu PF has declared that this is their exclusive partisan shrine and we have no reason to bulldoze in a party event,” he said.
Chamisa said there was need for all parties to come together in deciding who would be buried at the Heroes’ Acre, so it could have meaning to all Zimbabweans across the political spectrum.
“We need a collective national psyche and a national imperative so we can form the basis of who is defined as a national hero,” he said.
Chamisa said the system of declaring one a national hero on the basis that they were involved in the armed struggle was archaic and ought to be broadened to other spheres like economics, sport and journalism among others.
The MDC-T spokesperson said the declaration of hero’s status should be a unifying factor rather than a divisive element.
“We are awaiting for that day when Zimbabweans will come together and celebrate national events, rather than on partisan lines,” he said.
Zapu spokesman Methuseli Moyo said while Nyashanu had belonged to the old Zapu, the party had not made any arrangements and not been informed on the logistics.
“We are not stopping anyone from attending the burial, but as you know Zanu PF is in charge of logistics and they might bar people who are not from their party,” he said.
While Nyashanu has been declared a national hero, details of how he was incarcerated in the years after independence are beginning to emerge.
Observers noted that Zanu PF was shedding crocodile tears as Nyashanu was arrested several times under the government’s orders.
Nyashanu was first detained at Chakari Police Stations following the 1985 elections where he had unsuccessfully contested against Benard Chidzero in the Harare Central constituency.
At the time, he was charged with treason and he was severely assaulted by state security operatives. He had been informed that his life would be harder after he contested in those elections.
Following one of his prison stints Nyashanu, along with the masticated Zapu, forged for the signing of the Unity Accord.
Nyashanu will be buried tomorrow at the Heroes Acre.