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

Mali's Female Basketball Players Rebound After Islamist Occupation

Islamist extremists ruled northern Mali for most of 2012, imposing strict Sharia law, and now some 18 months later, the region is slowly getting back on its feet More

Video Vietnamese Staging Chinese Product Boycott After Oil Rig Spat

Many Chinese-made products go unsold, for now, with numerous Vietnamese consumers still angry over recent dispute More

Koreas Mark 61st Anniversary of War Armistice

Muted observances on both sides of heavily-armed Demilitarized Zone that separates two decades-long enemies 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.
Students in Business for Themselvesi
X
Mike O'Sullivan
July 26, 2014 11:04 AM
They're only high school students, but they are making accessories for shoes, fabricating backpacks and doing product photography - all through their own businesses. It's the result of a partnership between a non-profit organization that teaches entrepreneurship and their schools. VOA's Mike O'Sullivan and Deyane Moses met the budding entrepreneurs near Los Angeles.
Video

Video Students in Business for Themselves

They're only high school students, but they are making accessories for shoes, fabricating backpacks and doing product photography - all through their own businesses. It's the result of a partnership between a non-profit organization that teaches entrepreneurship and their schools. VOA's Mike O'Sullivan and Deyane Moses met the budding entrepreneurs near Los Angeles.
Video

Video Astronauts Train in Underwater Lab

In the world’s only underwater laboratory, four U.S. astronauts train for a planned visit to an asteroid. The lab - called Aquarius- is located five kilometers off Key Largo, in southern Florida. Living in close quarters and making excursions only into the surrounding ocean, they try to simulate the daily routine of a crew that will someday travel to collect samples of a rock orbiting far away from earth. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Not Even Monks Spared From Thailand’s Junta-Backed Morality Push

With Thailand’s military government firmly in control after May’s bloodless coup, authorities are carrying out plans they say are aimed at restoring discipline, morality and patriotism to all Thais. The measures include a crackdown on illegal gambling, education reforms to promote students’ moral development, and a new 24-hour phone hotline for citizens to report misbehaving monks. Steve Sandford reports from Bangkok.
Video

Video Virtual Program Teaches Farming Skills

In a fast-changing world beset by unpredictable climate conditions, farmers cannot afford to ignore new technology. Researchers in Australia are developing an online virtual world program to share information about climate change and more sustainable farming techniques for sugar cane growers. As VOA's Zlatica Hoke reports, the idea is to create a wider support network for farmers.
Video

Video Airline Expert: Missile will Show Signature on Debris

The debris field from Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 is spread over a 21-kilometer radius in eastern Ukraine. It is expected to take investigators months to sort through the airplane pieces to learn about the missile that brought down the jetliner and who fired it. VOAs Carolyn Presutti explains how this work will be done.
Video

Video Treatment for Childhood Epilepsy Heats up Medical Marijuana Debate

In the United States, marijuana is classed as an illegal drug by the federal government. But nearly half the states have legalized it, to some degree. Proponents say some strains of marijuana might have exceptional health benefits, for treating pain or inflammation in chronic conditions such as cancer, multiple sclerosis and epilepsy. Shelley Schlender reports on a strain of medical marijuana developed in Colorado that is reputed to reduce seizures in childhood epilepsy
Video

Video Airbus Adds Metal 3D Printed Parts to New Jets

By the end of this year, European aircraft manufacturing consortium Airbus plans to deliver the first of its new, extra-wide-body passenger jets, the A350-XWB. Among other technological innovations, the new plane will also incorporate metal parts made in a 3-D printer. VOA's George Putic has more.
Video

Video AIDS Conference Welcomes Exciting Developments in HIV Treatment, Prevention

Significant strides have been made in recent years toward the treatment and prevention of HIV, the virus that causes AIDS. This year, at the International AIDS Conference, the AIDS community welcomed progress on a new pill that may prevent transmission of the deadly virus. VOA’s Anita Powell reports from Melbourne, Australia.
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.

AppleAndroid