One of president Robert Mugabe’s fierce critics, former cabinet minister and governor of the Midlands province Cephas Msika, who died in Harare on Monday, has been declared a national hero by the ruling Zanu PF party, which does not normally grant such a status to opponents.
According to the independent NewsDay newspaper, President Mugabe instructed the presidium to announce the hero status granted to Msipa before the 92-year-old Zimbabwean leader left for Madagascar for a summit of the Common Market for East and Southern Africa.
Zanu PF’s Midlands province had written a letter to the ruling party’s Politburo requesting that Msipa be declared a hero “for the selfless service he rendered to the nation before, during and after the liberation struggle for the country.”
The newspaper quoted acting president, Emmerson Mnangagwa, as saying the decision to grant Msipa the hero status is final as President Mugabe made the recommendation for the late politician to be laid to rest at the National Heroes Acre where his mentor, former vice president Joshua Mqabuko Nkomo, was buried.
Indications are that he will be buried at the Midlands Provincial Heroes Acre where his wife, Charlotte Sithabile, was laid to rest in 2013.
The late former PF Zapu stalwart, who played a key role in uniting his party and President Mugabe’s Zanu following Gukurahundi or Five Brigade atrocities in Matabeleland and Midlands provinces targeting the late Joshua Nkomo’s supporters, succumbed to a chest infection at a Harare hospital.
Former chief Zimbabwe Revolutionary People's Army (ZIPRA) political commissar, Vunguza Roma Nyathi, described Msipa in a live VOA Studio 7 Livetalk show as a staunch promoter of human rights and peace.
He said Msipa would have liked to see a Zimbabwe with less poverty than the country is today.
Meanwhile, the late Msipa's grandson, Lloyd Msipa (Jnr) also died Monday at the University of Zimbabwe. Police have not yet provided details of his death.