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Mugabe awards thug hero status

Zimbabweans reacted with both shock and anger yesterday to the controversial decision by President Robert Mugabe's warring ruling Zanu-PF to declare the late party bigwig, Kizito Chivamba, a provincial hero.

This is despite the fact that Chivamba was in 1991 sentenced to seven years in prison for attempted murder, together with the late Central Intelligence Organisation deputy director Elias Kanengoni - after the duo pumped six bullets into the groin of the late prominent businessman and opposition activist, Patrick Kombayi, leaving him for dead.

In one of his many contentious decisions in his 37 years in power, Mugabe subsequently pardoned the two hitmen, which meant that they never needed to serve jail time and could get on with their lives — with Chivamba later becoming an "honourable" Member of Parliament.

And to add salt to injury — and despite the fact that Kombayi was initially maimed for life and later died from the wounds of that sickening attack — the much-reviled Kanengoni was declared a national hero when he died in 2013.

To the disbelief of the Kombayi family and the nation at large, Chivamba has now been declared a provincial hero — even though Zanu-PF's Midlands province wanted him to be conferred with the status of national hero.

Kombayi's anguished son, Hamutendi, told the Daily News yesterday that the decision by Zanu-PF bigwigs to "even consider" Chivamba as a hero was "a callous slap in the face" for the family.

"How can they declare such a person a hero? Do they ever consider what we as a family are going through?

"How can they say someone who killed our father is a hero? Is he a hero because he shot my father?

"I was also removed from my post as the mayor of Gweru unconstitutionally, but here is a murderer being rewarded. This is pure madness," the enraged Hamutendi said.

Mugabe and Zanu-PF have consistently been accused by opposition parties of monopolising the National Heroes Acre, where some of the most notorious politicians to have ever walked on this land, like Kanengoni, are interred.

However, the nonagenarian has refused to countenance the criticism, telling the opposition to construct their own heroes acre if they feel aggrieved by Zanu-PF's dubious selection criteria for national heroes.

Meanwhile, all the politicians and analysts who spoke to the Daily News yesterday also said Chivamba was not a hero, adding that he did not  "even merit being buried at a village heroes acre".

MDC spokesperson Obert Gutu said the only thing "consistent about Zanu-PF is its loathsome habit of doing the improbable".

"This is yet another unashamed bastardisation of the noble idea of national heroes. How can Chivamba be a hero for nearly killing and maiming the late Patrick Kombayi?

"The honour of being a hero should be reserved for deserving patriots who have shown unparalleled dedication to Zimbabwe and who were committed and law-abiding individuals who distinguished themselves in serving the country.

"The reality is that the late Kizito Chivamba was a convicted criminal who nearly killed Patrick Kombayi in a senseless and brutal act of politically-motivated violence. He doesn't deserve to be declared a hero," Gutu said.

Gutu's counterpart in the People's Democratic Party (PDP), Jacob Mafume, also derided the decision to declare Chivamba a provincial hero.

"The definition of hero in Zimbabwe has been twisted and confused, to the extent that you need a Zanu-PF dictionary to make sense of it.

"They celebrate people who would be villains even in a Batman movie. We live in a Gotham-like state where thieves and murderers give themselves medals of peace and morality.

"It's an evil Alice in Wonderland kind of setup where words mean the opposite of what is being said. Some of these people (interred at the national Heroes Acre) are perfect candidates for maximum prison ... It would appear it's now the gateway to hell," Mafume fumed.

Academic and researcher Pedzisai Ruhanya said Zimbabweans should never expect Zanu-PF to do the reasonable thing because "there is a difference between a Zanu-PF hero and a national hero".

"A Zanu-PF hero is partisan and a national hero is a man or woman who serves the country on non-partisan grounds ... just like Joshua Nkomo and Josiah Tongogara did.

"Chivamba is the anti-thesis of a hero. Heroes do not engage in acts of violence. Chivamba and his friend Kanengoni were only freed after being pardoned by Mugabe.

"In actual fact, they were supposed to be on the death roll for shooting Kombayi ... which is why this soils the good work done by real heroes like Tongogara, Nkomo and others," Ruhanya said.

Apart from the Kombayi horror attack, Chivamba was also involved in a number of other controversial issues.

Last year, Vice President Phelekezela Mphoko was apoplectic with anger after the late Chiwundura legislator called the VP "Mboko" at a rally in Masvingo.

Three years ago, a Gweru woman levelled sensational claims against him, accusing him of having seduced her when she was a minor — before dumping her with his child.


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Chuka (Webby) Aniemeka
Chuka (Webby) Aniemeka

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