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Zimbabwe Liberation Icon Edgar Tekere Designated National Hero

  • Tatenda Gumbo

Family spokesman Steven Kada said theTekere family was happy with the designation of the late freedom fighter as a hero, and that he can now be buried on Sunday at National Heroes Acre in Harare

The politburo of Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe's ZANU-PF party on Thursday declared liberation-era figure Edgar Tekere a national hero, a move that was telegraphed on Wednesday when Mr. Mugabe eulogized him in a statement.

Tekere, who died Tuesday at the age of 74 after a long battle with prostate cancer, was often at odds with President Mugabe in the years after independence in 1980.

Mr. Mugabe described Tekere as “fearless, temperamental, and a man who did not hesitate to take risks for his cause whatever the price.”

Alluding to their at times sharp differences, Mr. Mugabe noted that Tekere pursued a "different vision in national politics" though his patriotism was unquestionable.

ZANU-PF Secretary for Administration Didymus Mutasa said the politburo decision to declare Tekere a hero was unanimous.

Mutasa told Tekere's family in Mutare on Thursday that Tekere never fought with most colleagues in ZANU-PF but with President Mugabe because he wanted his job. Despite this, he said, they remained friends and comrades from their liberation-struggle days.

Family spokesman Steven Kada said the family was happy with the honor, adding that Tekere can now be buried on Sunday at National Heroes Acre in Harare.

Deputy Prime Minister Arthur Mutambara, who entered politics as a member of Tekere's Zimbabwe Unity Movement, said the honor bestowed on him was fitting.

Tekere's designation as a national hero was greeted with general approval, but revived a long-running debate over whether the ZANU-PF politburo should continue to control the honor now that the two MDC formations are co-governing the nation with ZANU-PF.

The MDC intends to bring up the issue this weekend at a SADC summit in South Africa.

For perspective, VOA Studio 7 reporter Tatenda Gumbo turned to ZANU-PF Chief Whip Joram Gumbo, and Douglas Mwonzora, spokesman for the Tsvangirai MDC.

Gumbo said Tekere's designation represented a national consensus. Mwonzora said ZANU-PF does not have a monopoly on those who fought to liberate Zimbabwe.