The late Zimbabwean Vice President Joseph Msika received a liberation hero's burial Monday at the National Heroes Acre in Harare where President Robert Mugabe, in graveside remarks, urged the West to help his national unity government or leave it alone.
Addressing thousands of mourners, Mr. Mugabe slammed Britain, the United States and other Western nations saying their reluctance to assist the national unity government with the aid the country needs to put itself back on its feet evoked the colonialist past.
"I say these are not the people to deal with. If they reject us, why should we want their help," said Mr. Mugabe at the national shrine ceremony attended as well by his governing partners, Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai and Deputy Prime Minister Arthur Mutambara.
Mr. Mugabe said the government needed to do more to revive all sectors of the economy rather than relying on foreign handouts, reported correspondent Thomas Chiripasi.
Political analyst John Makumbe, a University of Zimbabwe professor, told reporter Jonga Kandemiiri of VOA's Studio 7 for Zimbabwe that Mr. Mugabe’s slap at the West was "unfortunate" as the country still needs considerable help to rebuild itself.
Mr. Tsvangirai's presence at Heroes Acre was not a first - he attended his first state burial there as prime minister in March when former Defense Forces Commander Vitalis Zvinavashe was laid to rest. But his attendance signaled his Movement for Democratic Change's desire to share responsibility with ZANU-PF for the designation of national heroes.
Minister of State Gorden Moyo, attached to the prime minister’s office, told reporter Ntungamili Nkomo of VOA's Studio 7 for Zimbabwe that the principals of the inclusive government agreed to keep politics out of state functions, hence Mr. Tsvangirai’s attendance at the Msika burial ceremony.