Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe's ZANU-PF party this week declared the late Matabeleland Governor Welshman Mabhena a national hero - but his family said Thursday that he did not want to be buried in the National Heroes Acre in Harare alongside numerous ZANU-PF stalwarts because of his falling out with Mr. Mugabe nearly a decade ago.
Mabhena served as secretary general of the Zimbabwe African People's Union or ZAPU, one of the main liberation parties which was absorbed by Mr. Mugabe's ZANU after infighting in the late 1980s to form ZANU-PF.
The ZANU-PF politburo designated Mabhena a national hero late Wednesday what was called a marathon meeting.
But the Mabhena family told a delegation led by Vice President John Nkomo on Thursday that the deceased left instructions that he should not be buried at the National Heroes Acre in Harare.
Welshman Mabhena’s brother Norman told VOA Studio 7 reporter Ntungamili Nkomo that the politician disapproved of President Robert Mugabe’s policies and saw Heroes Acre as a ZANU-PF monument.
Political analyst Qhubani Moyo said that in declaring Mabhena a national hero, ZANU-PF hoped to burnish its appeal to residents of the Matabeleland region, where ZAPU has been revived in recent years.