News / Africa

Mugabe Refused Hero Status for MDC Leader

Morgan Tsvangirai (C) Arthur Mutumbaru (L) and Gibson Sibanda (R),  27 March 2007 (file photo)
Morgan Tsvangirai (C) Arthur Mutumbaru (L) and Gibson Sibanda (R), 27 March 2007 (file photo)

Multimedia

Audio
Peta Thornycroft

The two Movement for Democratic Change parties have united in anger against Zimbabwe President Robert Mugabe's refusal to accord national hero status to Gibson Sibanda, a founding MDC leader who died earlier this week.

Gibson Sibanda, who died at age 66 in his home city, Bulawayo, was a life-long fighter for democracy, a former legislator, and a trade unionist  who was detained for his activism by both Rhodesia and Mr. Mugabe's ZANU-PF administration.

Sibanda was the deputy president of the MDC when it became a political party 10 years ago, and had been on a committee promoting national healing and reconciliation within the 18-month-old unity government when he died.

Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai, who is also president of the main MDC party, said Sibanda's name "shall remain an indelible imprint in the sad narrative of our determined and brave march towards a new Zimbabwe."

Tsvangirai spokesman Nelson Chamisa said Mr. Mugabe's refusal to declare Sibanda a national hero was motivated by "cruelty, contempt and revenge."

In a recent interview with VOA in Harare, Sibanda recalled his detention in the former white-ruled Rhodesia and his eventual release when former Prime Minister Ian Smith and Abel Muzorewa were leading a transitional government as peace talks to end the civil war began in London in 1979.  

SIBANDA:  "I was charged with high treason with some other guys, and subsequently, and came to the high court and we defended successfully.  And we were discharged, but soon after being discharged we were served with indeterminate detention until 1979, during the Smith-Muzorewa coalition.  That is the one which reviewed our detention orders, but the talks were already under way."

Education minister David Coltart says in 1997 Sibanda led the biggest anti-government demonstration he had ever seen in Zimbabwe.

"Gibson Sibanda deserves to be recognized as a national hero, because for the last 40 years he has persistently and consistently fought within the country for the promotion of human rights and for a new democratic Zimbabwe," explained Coltart.  "He did so against the white minority government and he has done so for the last 30 years.  He was also president of the Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions and during his tenure, he was responsible, with others, for building it up to a very powerful organization.  So, on that basis alone he should be declared a national hero."

Priscilla Misihairabwi, the deputy-secretary general of the smaller MDC faction said hero status is confined to members of Mr. Mugabe's ZANU-PF Party.  She said Mr. Mugabe should tell taxpayers, who fund state funerals, that they have been supporting "a ZANU-PF burial society."

Mr. Mugabe's sister, Sabina, who political historians say played no role against white rule nor any significant part in post-1980 independent Zimbabwe was declared a national hero and buried with a state funeral last month at Hero's Acre.

Mr. Mugabe told the pro-ZANU-PF daily newspaper, The Herald, he regretted Sibanda's death and the state would assist with his private burial.

You May Like

Lebanese Media Unite to Support Palestinians in Gaza

Joint newscast billed as Arab world’s first unified news bulletin in support of Hamas-controlled Gaza Strip More

Photogallery Australian PM Alleges ‘Coverup’ at MH17 Crash Site

Meanwhile, Russia's ambassador to Malaysia denies plane's black boxes were opened before they were handed over to Malaysian officials More

Despite Advances in AIDS Treatment, Stigma Lingers

Leading immunologist tells VOA that stigma is often what prevents those infected with disease from seeking treatment More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
IAEA: Iran Turns its Enriched Uranium Into Less Harmful Formi
X
July 22, 2014 10:26 AM
Iran has converted its stockpiles of enriched uranium into a less dangerous form that is more difficult to use for nuclear weapons, according to the United Nations’ Atomic Energy Agency. The move complies with an interim deal reached with Western powers on Iran's nuclear program last year, in exchange for easing of sanctions. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.
Video

Video IAEA: Iran Turns its Enriched Uranium Into Less Harmful Form

Iran has converted its stockpiles of enriched uranium into a less dangerous form that is more difficult to use for nuclear weapons, according to the United Nations’ Atomic Energy Agency. The move complies with an interim deal reached with Western powers on Iran's nuclear program last year, in exchange for easing of sanctions. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.
Video

Video Relic of Saint Draws Catholics Worried About Immigration Issue

A Roman Catholic saint who is a figure of devotion for those crossing the border into the United States is attracting believers concerned about the plight of undocumented immigrants. Mike O'Sullivan reports from Los Angeles, where a relic of Saint Toribio has drawn thousands to local churches.
Video

Video Ukraine Rebels Surrender MH17 Black Boxes

After days of negotiations, a senior separatist leader handed over two black boxes from an airliner downed over eastern Ukraine to Malaysian experts early Tuesday. While on Monday, the U.N. Security Council unanimously demanded that armed groups controlling the crash site allow safe and unrestricted access to the wreckage.
Video

Video In Cambodia, HIV Diagnosis Brings Deadly Shame

Although HIV/AIDS is now a treatable condition, a positive diagnosis is still a life altering experience. In Cambodia, people living with HIV are often disowned by friends, family and the community. This humiliation can be unbearable. We bring you one Cambodian woman’s struggle to overcome a life tragedy and her own HIV positive diagnosis.
Video

Video Nature of Space Exploration Enters New Age

Forty-five years ago this month, the first humans walked on the moon. It was during an era of the space race between the United States and the Soviet Union. World politics have changed since then and -- as Elizabeth Lee reports -- so has the nature of space exploration.
Video

Video Chicago’s Argonne Lab Developing Battery of the Future

In 2012, the U.S. Department of Energy’s Office of Science awarded a $120 million grant to a new technology center focused on battery development - headquartered at Argonne National Laboratory in suburban Chicago, Illinois. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, there scientists are making the next technological breakthroughs in energy storage.
Video

Video In NW Pakistan, Army Offensive Causes Massive Number of Displaced

Pakistan’s army offensive in North Waziristan has resulted in the large-scale displacement of the local population. VOA's Ayaz Gul reports from northwest Pakistan where authorities say around 80 percent of the estimated 1 million internally displaced persons [IDPs] have settled in Bannu district, while much of the remaining 20 percent are scattered in nearby cities.
Video

Video Kurdish Peshmerga Force Secures Kirkuk, Its Oil

The Kurdistan regional government has sent its Peshmerga troops into the adjacent province of Kirkuk to drive out insurgents, and to secure the area's rich oil fields. By doing this, the regional government has added a fourth province to the three it officially controls. The oil also provides revenue that could make an independent Kurdistan economically strong. VOA’s Jeffrey Young went out with the Peshmerga and filed this report.
Video

Video Malaysia Reeling: Second Air Disaster in Four Months

Malaysia is reeling from the second air disaster in four months involving the country’s flag carrier. Flight 340 vanished in March and despite an extensive search, no debris has been found. And on Thursday, Flight 17, likely hit by a surface-to-air missile, came apart over eastern Ukraine. The two incidents together have left more than 500 people dead. VOA Correspondent Steve Herman reports from Kuala Lumpur.

AppleAndroid