HARARE – Zanu PF kept the family of fallen liberation stalwart and musician Dickson “Cde Chinx” Chingaira guessing yesterday, with President Robert Mugabe’s lieutenants deeply-divided and dithering on his hero status — leaving today’s politburo meeting to deal decisively with the matter.
Cde Chinx who died in Harare last Friday following a battle with cancer, is at a local funeral parlour as his family and the majority of ordinary Zimbabweans — drawn from different backgrounds — await Zanu PF’s decision on his status.
The diminutive musician who has received endorsement from opposition and pro-democracy groups — a rarity in the current polarised political environment — inspired the freedom fighters through his musical prowess during the protracted liberation struggle.
Insiders told the Daily News last night that Zanu PF was divided over Cde Chinx’s hero status as one group felt that it would be an injustice to inter him at the national shrine when the party had overlooked another musician and former Zipra cadre, Give Nare.
Nare and his choir’s recordings were destroyed by security agents in the early 1980s while their music was banned on ZBC for fear of inciting PF Zapu supporters as the country went through one of its darkest periods.
Zanu PF insiders said Cde Chinx’s matter had been temporarily “parked” with a decision expected at today’s crucial politburo meeting which would be chaired by Mugabe.
As word got out that there was a stalemate, senior Zanu PF officials were reluctant to comment – preferring to refer our reporters to their colleagues who in turn re-directed them back– in clearest indications that Cde Chinx’s matter was a hot issue.
Home Affairs minister and Zanu PF secretary for administration Ignatius Chombo, whose ministry handles national burials, refused to comment– referring the Daily News to War Veterans’ minister Tshinga Dube who said they had given all the paperwork to Chombo.
“We have done all the paper work from our side we are waiting for their response,” Dube told the Daily News.
Zanu PF Harare provincial chairperson Shadreck Mashayamombe also said the province was waiting for communication from Chombo.
Cde Chinx’s family said it was yet to receive communication from Zanu PF and would only inform the nation of their burial plans once the official word had been delivered to them.
Zanu PF’s dithering on Cde Chinx’s hero status didn’t sit well with the opposition.
The country’s main opposition MDC said the process to select who deserved to be a hero had long lost credibility because of Zanu PF’s ‘‘privatisation” of the process.
“The buck starts and ends with Mugabe. Not even the Zanu PF politburo has got a say anymore.
“The institution of the State has been reduced into a Robert Mugabe (Private) Limited company. It’s very sad. It’s very tragic indeed.
“If Mugabe thinks that someone doesn’t deserve to be declared a national hero, then that’s it.
“This business of leaving every decision on heroism to Mugabe only is total nonsense; absolute hogwash,” a miffed MDC spokesperson, Obert Gutu, told the Daily News.
People’s Democratic Party spokesperson, Jacob Mafume, said whatever the outcome, Cde Chinx was a ‘‘genuine’’ hero who ‘‘selflessly contributed to the country’s bitter and protracted war to bring its independence’’.
“Cde Chinx did more to help shape the national ethos and define what it means to be Zimbabwean in song and dance.
“He is a hero in our hearts and that is far more precious,” said Mafume.
Meanwhile, First Lady Grace Mugabe, gave a moving tribute during an emotional address to mourners at Cde Chinx’s house yesterday as she recalled how as a young girl she was captivated by his music coming from Mozambique.
Grace said Cde Chinx was a hero of the liberation struggle and said his music turned farmers into soldiers.
She said as a little girl she would listen to pirate radio from Mozambique with Chinx’s booming voice providing an escape to their daily struggles.
“Some people forget unity. We are fighting amongst each other, factionalism and other ills, is this respect we can give to Cde Chinx and all those who were left behind in Mozambique, in Zambia and all those who died in the struggle?”
“Is this the respect we can give them? Ini sa amai ndokumbira kuti ruzhinji ngarwubatane (As the first lady of this country I ask that let us unite). If we want those who are no longer with us to have peace of mind, the only way we can say rest in peace with all our heart is through our deeds.
“We don’t just want to say rest in peace; we also want our deeds to also rest in peace. And those late liberation icons we also want them to rest in peace by showing that we are content with what they did for us,” Grace told mourners.
“Proverbs 16 verse 9: A man’s heart plans his way, But the Lord directs his steps….We wanted Cde Chinx to live on to see his grandchildren but that did not happen…we did not know the day, it was just our wish that he gets better and that he would release more good music but it did not happen like that,” she added.
The first lady likened Cde Chinx to a garden in which only the ripe crop is plucked for cooking comparing it to God’s way of taking only the best from the living.
She urged the Chinx family to also honour the legacy of their father by uniting.
Cde Chinx leaves behind two wives and 14 children.