POLITICIANS by their nature would seek to take advantage of any opportunity to expand their scope of influence, including sombre gatherings such as funerals.
Such politicking naturally has to be within reasonable bounds as people have to respect the feelings of the bereaved.
However, two incidents that happened in Bulawayo and Shangani in the past few days went beyond what self-respecting politicians are expected to do.
First it was the well publicised funeral service for the 22 Zimbabwean miners who perished in South Africa, which was held in Bulawayo last Saturday. A day before the bodies arrived, political parties such as MDC-T and Zanu PF began jostling for the right to lead the activities surrounding the burial of the miners — to gain mileage.
Officials from the two parties accused each other of trying to reap where they did not sow as if assisting the bereaved families was a competition.
Zapu, which also played a leading role in raising funds to repatriate the bodies, accused its opponents of suffering from a “vulture syndrome” by jostling for the limelight and taking advantage of the mourners.
The latest travesty was the drama at Combo area in Shangani on Tuesday where villagers gathered to bury five victims of an accident that occurred last Friday.
Zanu PF officials led by the former deputy president of the Senate Naison Khutshwekhaya Ndlovu delayed the burial of four of the victims from the Nkomo family by several hours following a dispute over where to bury them.
The ruling party was arguing that the four should be buried at a community cemetery while the Nkomo family insisted on interring the remains within their homestead. Mourners had to wait until 5pm to bury the bodies instead of 9am as originally planned.
This obviously had the effect of traumatising the bereaved who already had to contend with the loss of four family members in a single accident. Zanu PF clearly wanted to gain mileage from this sad event and this has to be condemned in the strongest terms.
Politicians should respect the dead.