Who is a Zimbabwean hero?


THE late National Railways of Zimbabwe general manager Mike Karakadzai was yesterday buried at the National Heroes’ Acre and once again, the conferment of the honour has left many people with more questions than answers.

Southern Eye Editorial

Karakadzai who died in a car accident last week, was bestowed with honour at the same Zanu PF politburo meeting that declared former Defence minister Enos Nkala a hero.

The general feeling in this region is that both did not deserve this honour that ideally should be reserved for individuals whose contribution to nation building is beyond reproach.

Precedence had also shown that Karakadzai would have been too junior in terms of his role in the liberation struggle to deserve a national hero status.

We say precedence because there are tens of ex-Zipra and Zapu high ranking officials who were denied the status yet their documented contribution to the liberation of this country dwarfs that of Karakadzai.

One such figure who died in the past few years, Thenjiwe Lesabe, who had to be buried at her Fort Rixon Farm comes to into mind.

There are numerous other former ex-Zipra fighters with higher ranks and bigger roles in the liberation struggle than Karakadzai who were denied that honour.

Karakadzai was more prominent at the National Railways of Zimbabwe where he presided over the collapse of what used to be one of the city’s major employers.

As we write, NRZ workers have gone for over eight months without pay and the question on everyone’s lips is what was Karakadzai being honoured for! As for Nkala, the less said about him, the better.

President Robert Mugabe who in the past has spoken strongly about how consistency plays a big role in determining one’s hero status, declared that Nkala was a hero even before the Zanu PF politburo met.

This meant that the decision of the politburo was a mere formality and the ex-Zapu officials still in Zanu PF who bore the brunt of Nkala’s brutality at the height of Gukurahundi were forced to go along with Mugabe’s decision.

While Nkala in the past protested innocence, he was widely quoted in the State media then calling for the demise of Zapu, ahead of a pogrom that claimed an estimated 20 000 people in Midlands and Matabeleland.

The former Defence minister resigned from Zanu PF way ahead of Lesabe and this alone should have disqualified him.

Nkala is set to be buried at the Heroes’ Acre on Thursday, a place he once said he hated. After these burials, the million dollar question will remain: Who is a Zimbabwean hero?