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#MorganTsvangirai: Leader would not have wanted to ‘rest’ at Heroes’ Acre

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'It would have been an insult for him to be buried among some of those at Heroe’s Acre, like Hitler Hunzvi and other securocrats.'

Morgan Tsvangirai

Morgan Tsvangirai would not have wanted to “rest” at Heroes’ Acre where many seniors who fought in Zimbabwe’s liberation war are buried, according to Tendai Biti, former Movement for Democratic Change secretary-general, and a founding member of the party who became finance minister in the inclusive government.

Some have criticised Zanu PF’s new leader, Emmerson Mnangagwa, who ousted Robert Mugabe last November, for not awarding a full hero’s funeral for Tsvangirai.

But Biti, also a senior Zimbabwe lawyer, said ahead of Monday’s last rally to celebrate Tsvangiri’s life in Harare: “It would have been an insult for him to be buried among some of those at Heroe’s Acre, like Hitler Hunzvi and other securocrats.”

Hitler Hunzvi, was trained as a combatant but studied in Poland during the war to end minority white rule. He was not a combatant. But he went on to insist former president Robert Mugabe invade thousands of white-owned farms after Zanu PF lost a referendum on a new constitution in 2000. Tens of thousands of farm workers lost their jobs, and the agriculturally-dependent economy crashed.

Tsvangirai, who died aged 65 of colon cancer in Johannesburg last Wednesday, has been given a state-assisted funeral which means his South African medical costs as well as those for burial on Tuesday at his rural home, Buhera, 200 kms south of Harare, will be met by the state.

“Burials at Heroe’s Acre were the invention of a ruling elite. And Morgan took a united stand against dictatorship….It would have been an insult for him to be buried there,” Biti said.

Some of those buried at the North Korean-designed state shrine, set up after 1980 independence, were directly involved in the war against white minority rule. Some who died in later years supported mass murder of oppostion ZAPU supporters in the southern Matabeleland provinces from 1983 – 1987, and murders of MDC supporters after it nearly beat Zanu PF in the first elections it fought in 2000.

The MDC was formed by civil rights activists, trade unionists, intellectuals and  small left-wing groups.

As far as can be ascertained, less then five people were brought to courts by Zimbabwe’s partisan police in connection with murders of MDC supporters since 2000.

Zimbabwe’s judicial independence crashed after the MDC emerged, and some judges, inlcuding the chief justice, were either chased from their posts, or quit in fear, and Mugabe went on to install a group of mostly pliant, and often underqualified judges, most of whom helped themselves to white-owned farms as part of their perks.

Tsvangirai’s death has seen the largest crowds of mourning civilians in the streets of Harare since 1980 independence. The party has no resources, but thousands of mostly poor, unemployed people,  trudged to various venues around the city to pay their respects to Tsvangirai since his body arrived from South Africa on Saturday.

On Monday, the last public event was at Freedom Square, as the piece of land near the Harare showgrounds is known to MDC supporters. Zanu PF officials call it Robert Mugabe Square, but a city official told Independent Newspapers early Monday, the land has no official name.

It is where the MDC held all its last rallies before elections since 2000, events which always attracted tens of thousands of mostly working-class supporters.

Only the deaths of former military supremo, Solomon Mujuru who died in a mysterious fire in 2011, and former oppositon leader Joshua Nkomo, who died in 1999, have attracted crowds the size of those who turned up in various venues to pay their respects to Tsvangirai.

Several opposition war heroes, such as Lookout Masuku, who died in 1986, and was a senior ZAPU combatant during the war to end minority white rule was not buried at Heroes Acre. Garfield Todd, the liberal prime minister rejected by many whites because he supported majority rule in the 1960’s, also made it known before he died that he did not want to be buried at Heroes Acre.