FORMER Zanu PF politician Rugare Gumbo has told erstwhile comrades to keep the Heroes Acre to themselves if they intend to use the honour of burial there as a reward for loyalty to President Robert Mugabe.
Gumbo was speaking to NewZimbabwe.com following Zanu PF stalwart Amos Midzi’s death and subsequent denial of even consideration for the highest honour in the land.
Midzi, suspended for five years from Zanu PF after being accused backing an internal bid to dethrone Mugabe, was buried at Glen Forest Cemetery in Harare on Saturday.
His snub by Zanu PF has elicited strong rebuke from his ruling party friends who felt President Mugabe has his bitterness against old allies too far.
Gumbo, who is among ex-party stalwarts fired over the alleged rebellion by ousted Vice President Joice Mujuru, said the prospect of being refused burial at the Heroes’ Acre did not worry him.
“It does not worry me at all. I have a place and my own heroes’ acre,” he said.
“I have got my own land; I have got family and friends …why would I worry about being denied hero status.”
He added: “That has been my life.
“I did not wage the liberation struggle in order to gain heroes status. I waged the struggle in order to free the people of Zimbabwe. Period!”
The conferment of the national hero status has long been a thorny issue with opposition political parties saying the prerogative must be taken away from a biased Zanu PF.
President Mugabe’s opponents have accused the veteran leader of abusing the process to both reward undeserving loyalists and to punish those who deserve the honour but have crossed paths with him.
The veteran leader has defied the outrage, telling critics to identify their own mountain to bury their own heroes.
Mugabe insists the national shrine was the preserve of those who took part in the country’s liberation struggle and not sporting, arts, culture and business luminaries as was being proposed by his opponents.