Govt downplayed Madiba’s role

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THE memorial service for former South African President Nelson Mandela organised by the Bulawayo City Council and various stakeholders yesterday was a noble gesture.

Mandela, who succumbed to a lung infection on December 5, will be buried today in his home area of Qunu.

His death brought the world together with over 90 heads of State attending his memorial service in Johannesburg alongside thousands of South Africans on Tuesday.

President Robert Mugabe was among the world leaders at FNB Stadium and he also sent a condolence message to South Africa describing Mandela as a champion of the oppressed.

However, there is a feeling that this did not go far enough especially for a man whose role in the struggle for the emancipation of black people had a direct impact on Zimbabwe.

Mandela was the commander in chief of South Africa’s liberation movement Umkhonto Wesizwe, which fought side by side with the Zimbabwe People’s Revolutionary Army.

That historical fact alone should have meant a lot for Zimbabwe but regrettably some appeared too desperate to downplay his legacy.

It is therefore, in that light that we would like to applaud the City of Bulawayo for providing leadership through the service held at the Centenary Park.

In 1994, Bulawayo City Council awarded Mandela the Freedom of the City for his “unprecedented contribution to democratic development and restoration of peace and stability in South Africa in a period spanning more than three decades”.

Regrettably, Mandela was not able to receive the honour.

But the ceremony yesterday more than atoned for the missed opportunity.

The service certainly put to shame the hired guns who tried to use the State media to distort Mandela’s legacy through all sorts of half-truths.

People know their heroes and no amount of lies would force them to idolise failed leaders.

It is also our hope that our leaders learnt a lot from the outpouring of grief that has followed Madiba’s death.