A hero is described in the Concise English Dictionary as a person of distinguished courage or ability, admired for his brave deeds and noble qualities.
It goes further to say this is a person who, in the opinion of others, has heroic qualities or has performed a heroic act and is regarded as a model or ideal. This definition has been a major cause of disagreements in Zimbabwe over the years with President Robert Mugabe’s party picking and choosing heroes and heroines as it pleases, ignoring erstwhile but deserving people.
Some Zimbabweans are now calling for the establishment of an independent panel to confer national hero status on deserving individuals.
While Zanu PF has monopolized and politicized the conferment of the country's national heroes and heroines, some academics like Harare lawyer Justice Mavedzenge say the duty should not be left to Zanu PF alone.
Due to this partisan approach, Mavedzenge says, heroes lying at the national shrine have ceased to be national heroes as they are now Zanu PF heroes.
Co-chairperson of the Harare Metropolitan Residents Forum, Israel Mabhowo, says the government should set up an all-inclusive independent commission, made up of representatives of all political parties, churches and the social movement, to decide who should and should not be declared a national hero.
Mavedzenge argues that such a panel should be appointed by parliament.
Programs coordinator of the Female Students Network, Evernice Munando, agrees, adding that the Heroes Act should also be made readily available so Zimbabweans can make their input into the legislation by suggesting amendments.
Munando says conferment of national hero status should go beyond partisan politics and move towards recognizing people in other sectors who would have contributed to national development.
Crisis in Zimbabwe spokesperson, Mfundo Mlilo, believes that the selective conferring of national heroes and heroines demonstrates that there is a leadership crisis in the country.
Without mentioning names, Mlilo says there are so many people in the opposition that have contributed immensely to the country's economic growth that also deserve to be declared heroes and heroines.
Home Affairs Minister, Kembo Mohadi, could not be drawn to comment about the setting up of an independent heroes commission.
President Mugabe has repeatedly chided the Movement for Democratic Change saying it should build its own heroes acre if it wants to have a say in the selection of national heroes and heroines.
Mr. Mugabe has been quoted in the past saying only people who participated in the liberation struggle may be buried at the national shrine.
It remains to be seen whether the ruling party will agree to the formation of an independent panel to deal with the conferment of heroe status.