ZANU PF snubbed the memorial service of Zimbabwe’s first president Reverend Canaan Banana held at the Mzilikazi Methodist Church in Bulawayo on Saturday.
Former Zanu PF politburo member and Zapu president Dumiso Dabengwa and MDC secretary-general Priscilla Misihairabwi-Mushonga, who is also Banana’s niece, were the only prominent figures at the memorial service attended by family and friends as well as church members.
The Banana family sent a notification of the memorial service to the chief secretary to the president and Cabinet Misheck Sibanda to inform President Robert Mugabe and members of the Cabinet about the event.
“I sent a notification to the government; the chief secretary to the president and Cabinet a week before the celebration, but I didn’t get any response,” Misihairabwi-Mushonga said.
She said she had invited Bulawayo Provincial Affairs minister Eunice Sandi Moyo, who indicated that she would be attending another function on the same day.
Moyo attended celebrations to mark her appointment as Bulawayo Provincial Affairs minister on Saturday at the Zimbabwe International Trade Fair Grounds.
Misihairabwi-Mushonga said she was grateful to the people who attended the memorial which she declared a success despite facing a number of challenges along the way.
“We needed a tent and we asked for one from Mhlahlandlela (government complex), but we couldn’t get one. We had to run around to make the event a success,” she said.
She said her uncle (Banana) was a man who had never worried about being honoured by anyone.
“My uncle never worried about being honoured, so those who felt that it was not necessary for them to attend the celebration cannot be questioned; that was up to them and we did our part.
“We as a family and other interested persons will carry his legacy because he deserves it.”
Zanu PF spokesperson Rugare Gumbo said his party did not snub the event, but the invitation arrived late for them to attend.
“We are sorry no one from the party attended the celebrations, but it could be due to the fact that we got the invitation late,” Gumbo said.
“It is, however, important to remember our comrades. He is one of us and we should remember his status as a former president of this country,” he said.
Banana fell out with Mugabe because of his post-independence criminal conviction for sodomy for which he did time at Connemara Prison just outside Gweru.
Mugabe is a fierce critic of gays and lesbians whom he has described as being “worse than pigs and dogs”.
Banana died of cancer at the age of 67 in the United Kingdom where he was being treated for the ailment.