JUST 66 percent of Zanu PF politburo members thought liberation war icon Edgar Tekere should be made a national hero, it emerged on Friday.
Zanu PF’s highest decision making body has 75 members, but only 65 were consulted by telephone, with 10 said to be unavailable, Zanu PF secretary for administration Didymus Mutasa revealed.
So strong was the feeling in those opposed to designating one of the party’s founding leaders a national hero, Mutasa said, that when one was asked, he shot back: “By the way, who is Tekere?”
Tekere died on Tuesday after a long battle with prostate cancer. His burial has been scheduled for the National Heroes’ Acre in Harare on Sunday.
Tekere, who became Manpower Planning Minister at Independence in 1980, was dismissed from government by then Prime Minister Robert Mugabe just a year later.
He stood against Mugabe as leader of a new opposition party, the Zimbabwe Unity Movement, in 1990 but polled just 16 percent of the national vote.
He rejoined Zanu PF in 2006, but in the 2008 presidential election, he backed another Zanu PF renegade, Simba Makoni, in the race for the presidency.
“Although Cde Tekere was even eyeing President Mugabe’s position, we want to thank him (President Mugabe) for accepting the Manicaland province’s position of according him the national hero status,” Mutasa said.
“President Mugabe has honoured us the people of Manicaland by recognising the good deeds done by our late hero. Yes, people might differ here and there, but that is what democracy is all about.”
Mugabe didn’t pull back in his praise of his former comrade, saying in a condolence message to his widow Pamela and daughter Maidei that they should “remain strong and hopeful, all the time drawing inspiration from Cde Tekere’s well deserved place in the narrative of this country.”