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

Katrina Brought Enduring Changes to New Orleans

The city’s recovery is the result of the people and culture the city is famous for, as well as newcomers and start-up industries More

China to Open Stock Markets to Pension Funds

In unprecedented move, government to soon allow local pension funds to invest up to $94 billion in domestic shares More

1 Billion People Used Facebook on Single Day

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg praised the accomplishment in a posting on the social media site 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.
Colombians Flee Venezuela as Border Crisis Escalatesi
X
August 27, 2015 2:08 AM
Hundreds of Colombians have fled Venezuela since last week, amid an escalating border crisis between the two countries. Last week, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro ordered the closure of a key border crossing after smugglers injured three Venezuelan soldiers and a civilian. The president also ordered the deportation of Colombians who are in Venezuela illegally. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video Colombians Flee Venezuela as Border Crisis Escalates

Hundreds of Colombians have fled Venezuela since last week, amid an escalating border crisis between the two countries. Last week, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro ordered the closure of a key border crossing after smugglers injured three Venezuelan soldiers and a civilian. The president also ordered the deportation of Colombians who are in Venezuela illegally. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video Is China's Economic Data Accurate?

Some investors say China's wild stock market gyrations have been made worse by worries about the reliability of that nation's economic data. And some critics say the reports can mislead investors by painting an unrealistically-strong picture of the economy. A key China scholar says Beijing is not fudging ((manipulating)) the numbers, but that the economy is evolving quickly from smoke-stack industries to services, and the ways of tracking new economic activity are falling behind the change. V
Video

Video Next to Iran, Climate at Forefront of Obama Agenda

President Barack Obama this week announced new initiatives aimed at making it easier for Americans to access renewable energy sources such as solar and wind. Obama is not slowing down when it comes to pushing through climate change measures, an issue he says is the greatest threat to the country’s national security. VOA correspondent Aru Pande has more from the White House.
Video

Video Shipping Containers Provide Experimental Housing

Housing prices around the San Francisco Bay area are out of reach for many people, so some young entrepreneurs, artists and tech industry workers are creating their own houses using converted shipping containers. But as VOA's Mike O’Sullivan reports from Oakland, the effort requires ingenuity and dealing with restrictive local laws.
Video

Video Arctic Draws International Competition for Oil

A new geopolitical “Great Game” is underway in earth’s northernmost region, the Arctic, where Russia has claimed a large area for resource development and President Barack Obama recently approved Shell Oil Company’s test-drilling project in an area under U.S. control. Greg Flakus reports.
Video

Video Philippine Maritime Police: Chinese Fishermen a Threat to Country’s Security

China and the Philippines both claim maritime rights in the South China Sea.  That includes the right to fish in those waters. Jason Strother reports on how the Philippines is catching Chinese nationals it says are illegal poachers. He has the story from Palawan province.
Video

Video Technique May Eliminate Drill-and-Fill Dental Care

Many people dread visiting dentists because they're afraid of drills. Now, however, a technology developed by a British firm promises to eliminate the need for mechanical cleaning of dental cavities by speeding a natural process of tooth repair. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video China's Spratly Island Building Said to Light Up the Night 'Like A City'

Southeast Asian countries claim China has illegally seized territory in the Spratly islands. It is especially a concern for a Philippine mayor who says Beijing is occupying parts of his municipality. Jason Strother reports from the capital of Palawan province, Puerto Princesa.
Video

Video Ages-old Ice Reveals Secrets of Climate Change

Ice caps don't just exist at the world's poles. There are also tropical ice caps, and the largest sits atop the Peruvian Andes - but it is melting, quickly, and may be gone within the next 20 years. George Putic reports scientists are now rushing to take samples to get at the valuable information about climate change locked in the ice.
Video

Video French Experiment in Integrating Roma Under Threat

Plans to destroy France’s oldest slum have sparked an outcry on the part of its Roma residents. As Lisa Bryant reports from the Paris suburb of La Courneuve, rights groups argue the community is a fledgling experiment on integrating Roma who are often outcasts in many parts of Europe.
Video

Video Kenyans Turn to Agriculture for Business

Each year Kenyan universities continue to churn out graduates for the job market despite the already existing high rate of unemployment among youth in the country. Some of these young men and women have realized that agriculture can be as rewarding as any other business or job, and they are resorting to agribusiness in large numbers as a way of tackling unemployment. Rael Ombuor reports for VOA.
Video

Video First Women Graduate Elite Army Ranger School

Two women are making history for the U.S. Army by proving they are among the toughest of the tough. VOA's Carla Babb reports from Fort Benning, Georgia as 94 men and those two women rise as graduates of the difficult Ranger school.

VOA Blogs